Title: How do I help my son accept his lesbian sister?
00:00:02 Speaker 1
One of your teenagers recently came out as gay. The other teenager is having a hard time accepting
it. Well, let's talk about that today on tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed
marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live
happier lives. I lead two organizations teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 c three organization,
child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon,
I jump into Facebook live to answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into today's. My 19
year old daughter just came out to the family as gay recently. It was kind of a shock for all of
us. We didn't see it coming. My younger son is 14 and is having a really hard time accepting it.
He's been kind of short tempered around the house, passive aggressive, spending a lot of time
in his room. I thought I raised him to be open and tolerant, but I guess he wasn't ready for this
yet. What can I do to create some harmony?
00:01:09 Speaker 1
So thank you for your question. I imagine harmony would be that all four of you would be loving
and accepting of each other no matter who you or how you see each other, but everyone's allowed
to be themselves, which I totally agree with. First of all, I think it's wonderful that your
daughter had the strength and courage to come out to you and had the safety to come out to you,
which is wonderful. And I applaud you as a family that you are embracing her unconditionally.
Clearly her brother is struggling with this, and I think there's two ways to approach this.
Number one. You want to, I think, make sure you're addressing your daughter's feelings, because
she may feel very strong and powerful in coming out, but she also may feel very slighted and hurt
by her brother's reaction. And make sure that she has a safe place to talk about that and help
her develop some empathy and hope and patience with her brother as he matures and develops his
acceptance for her. Secondly, with her brother, I
00:02:08 Speaker 1
think it's important that we allow him to have that safe place as well. You may disagree with
how he's reacting, but his feelings are his feelings. And if you start judging his feelings,
he's not going to get anywhere. Having him feel totally accepted in his life, even if his opinions
disagree with yours or his sister's, may help him feel the empathy that he needs to then share
that with his sister. Now, there's several reasons why he may be having this reaction. I can't
go through all of them because there are thousands, but here are some common ones. All right?
Number one is, oh, my gosh, my sister's gay. My life's been a lie. I don't know who she is anymore,
and I'm in shock. That could be one. It could be as teenagers can be, very narrow minded and very
singularly focused of how does this affect me? Of, oh, my gosh, my sister's gay. If my friends
find out, they're all going to tease me, right? Or if someone else finds out, they're going to
judge me or tease me about it. I have a hard
00:03:05 Speaker 1
time with that now. Don't worry. I think that is something that goes away pretty quickly. Even
if his friends are kind of jerks, usually people learn how to get through that. Another possibility
is he may be struggling with similar issues about his sexuality and not really knowing how he
feels. And he may be at the maturity level that he's not ready to face us yet, but suddenly he's
thrust into this big mirror and he's not mature enough to cope with us yet, and it's really scary
for him. So obviously these are three of many more possibilities, but I think the more you allow
him to have a safe place to talk and share his feelings, the more he will start understanding
where it's coming from and you can deal with it. If it's something really deep, you may need to
talk to a therapist perhaps may not need that. He just may need some time to really understand
and go, okay, I can handle this. Also, if they had a pretty good relationship beforehand, keep
focusing on how that relationship doesn't
00:04:06 Speaker 1
have to change. They're still the dynamic duo, the buddies who played Monopoly together and
had a good time and talked about jokes and music together. They could still have that. And it
may be that, who knows? Maybe they can talk about girls together. I don't know. But there's probably
more in common than they realize. It's just the shock. And I think the more we help him process
through the shock in a place that is non judgmental and safe, the more he can start sharing that
with his sister and everyone's going to feel better. Anyways, that's our topic for today. It's
a big topic. We can talk for hours and hours on different possibilities when we have a short time
here. If you have more questions, you can always give us a call here. Our phone number is down
below. And if you have questions for me you like me to answer on tips on teens, you can email us
at email@example.com. Thank you so much for watching. By the way, I'll be
out next week. I'll camping. I'll see you guys
00:05:01 Speaker 1
in two weeks. Have a great July and keep the questions coming. Thanks, guys. I'm kent toussaint.
This is Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen counseling. Bye.
So one of your kids came out, and your other kid is freaking out? How do you help your child accept a gay sibling?
If your child isn’t responding well to the news of a gay sibling, there could be a lot of different things happening. Just to name a few:
- This news may have rocked their world! They may be saying to themselves “I don’t know who my brother/sister is any more,” and it might feel really uncomfortable to them.
- They may be worried about how friends and others will respond, and have anxiety about others teasing them, etc.
- Your kid may be struggling with similar issues themself about their own sexuality, and he or she may not really know how they feel. When a sibling comes out, it may feel to this child that now they have been thrust in front of a mirror, and they’re not mature enough to cope with it yet.
There are a million different possible explanations behind a kid’s reaction to their sibling coming out. Regardless of the reason, you have to allow them to have a safe place to express themselves. You may disagree with how he or she is reacting, but their feelings are their feelings. If you start judging feelings, you’re not going to get anywhere.
Create A Safe Space
Helping your kid to feel like you accept their feelings and allowing them freedom to express themselves may help him or her to feel the empathy necessary to sympathize with their gay sibling. The more you allow your kid to have a safe place to talk and share his/her feelings the more he/she can understand where those feelings are coming from and process them.
Here’s this week’s Tips on Teens question:
“My 19 year old daughter just came out to the family as gay recently. It was kind of a shock for all of us, we didn’t see it coming. My younger son is 14 and is having a really hard time accepting it. He’s been kind of short tempered around the house, passive aggressive, spending a lot of time in his room. I thought I raised him to be open and tolerant, but I guess he wasn’t ready for this yet. What can I do to create some harmony?”
Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.