“My daughter came out and we had a great conversation, she knows I love her and we are ‘cool.’ But she REFUSES to talk to me about girls she likes. I just want her to feel comfortable sharing… how do I make this happen?”
Question submitted Anonymously
Answered by Dannielle Owens-Reid & Kristin Russo
“It took me a while to feel comfortable talking to either of my parents about girls. Not because I didn’t want to, or because I thought it was weird, or because I thought my parents were annoying… it was just because I had never talked to them about ANY of my crushes. When they would ask me questions about my girl-crushes, I really just had no idea what to say or how to have that conversation.” – Dannielle, 28
The most important thing to focus on in this situation is to try and keep your relationship with your daughter as similar to how it was before she came out to you as possible. If, before she came out, you would poke at her and make jokes about cute boys, you should just keep doing the same about cute girls! If you were never overly vocal about that sort of thing in the past, don’t feel that you suddenly need to become a different kind of parent as a means of showing your support. Your child is much more perceptive than you might realize, and the support you’ve already shown is incredible and vital to her understanding of herself and your growing parent-daughter relationship.
If she just came out to you, this may just be a case of her navigating new territory. She might not even be entirely comfortable with how she feels about having girl-crushes, and so talking about those things openly may not come naturally to her at this stage in the game. It could also be that she is a bit more private than you are when it comes to matters of the heart. These things take time and patience — but do know that her reluctance to open up to you is not an indicator of you being a bad or unapproachable parent!
The best thing that you can do is continue to be yourself; ask the questions you would normally ask, and make the comments you would normally make. When a young person comes out to their family members, one of the biggest needs they have is for things to remain as balanced as possible while they explore their new identity. Your daughter will likely open up to you more as she gets more comfortable, and as she gets a bit older — but if you suddenly change course and stop asking the questions you’d usually ask, she may take that as a sign that you don’t want her to be as open.
Also, as you likely already know, these conversations (or approaches to conversations) do not have to be overly serious in nature — you might have an exchange that’s something like this one:
You: She’s cute!
Kid: I guess.
You: You have a crush on her?
Kid: Uh, no.
You: What about her
Kid: Mom, no.
You: What about her?
Through that whole exchange, you’re feeling (maybe) like your daughter wants you to just STOP ASKING… and on one level you are totally correct. The tricky (and cool) part of that exchange, though, is that even through those feelings of “UGH MOM” that your daughter is having, she’s also getting the message that YOU haven’t changed, and that you support and love her.
The bottom line? Do the things you’ve always done, and allow your daughter the space and time to evolve in her understanding of herself and her ability to communicate those feelings with you. Also, thanks for being a supportive parent.
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