Dear Life Matters,
Our daughter just came to us and told us that she is a lesbian. Then she brought a girl by with piercings and pink streaks in her hair.
Needless to say, we are horrified. She was always a lovely girl that dated boys and the boys liked her, back when she was in high school. But since going off to college she has decided that she wants to go gay.
We are hoping that it is just a phase, but my husband and I are actually more worried that something really sexually traumatic may have happened to her that we never knew about.
My husband is her stepfather, for a long time now, and a very good father figure that she adores. Her biological father is a sex addict and I divorced him years ago when I caught him cheating, over and over again.
I am worried that she may have seen inappropriate things or maybe that he even did something to her that has made her gay. She says it is nothing like that and that she is happy. We don’t really believe her and we are definitely not happy with her decision at all. We wanted grandchildren and to see her happily married. I have even imagined the big beautiful wedding we would have given her one day.
What do you recommend we do? How can we help her?
I am sorry that you are feeling so worried and “horrified.” I can imagine that it is difficult for you, especially because you have held such an image and what now looks like a fantasy for your daughter.
I understand that she is your little girl and you are worried that something may have gone wrong. It is not unreasonable to think these things and your questions about your prior spouse are not out of line. No one knows for sure what causes homosexuality. Many feel that they were born this way. Yet there are traumatic histories with many gay people. Having said that, there are also many heterosexual people with trauma histories.
Women do seem to be more bi-sexual than men, so it may be temporary, but I would not refer to it as a phase.
I don’t believe we can make ourselves attracted to anyone whether we are heterosexual or homosexual. It just seems to happen or it doesn’t! We can’t make ourselves fall in love with someone and sometimes we meet the most attractive people, but don’t feel chemistry with them at all. If we are honest, our real feelings and attractions just cannot be forced. It is either there or it isn’t and often defies reason.
Research and anecdotal data are convincing that people do not choose a sexual preference. We cannot decide to be gay; it won’t work out if we are not really feeling it. And we cannot decide to not be gay either. Those who have tried this have suffered for years and often have caused great pain for others that they were involved with in their own self-deception.
The best thing that you can do for yourselves and for your daughter is to learn more about homosexuality. There are many self-help groups and you can find information online. You might also want to seek counseling to help you process your feelings and come to terms with whoever and whatever your daughter may be.
I doubt that she wants to hurt you. She just is what she is. It is not a choice.
If you care about her as much as you seem to do, love her for who she is. Trying to change her, telling her something is wrong with her or rejecting her would be the worst thing you can do.
If you don’t know by now, many young people who have come out to their parents and then are rejected have been so devastated that they committed suicide.
I am sorry that you most likely have to give up your dreams as you have known them. But remember that they may not be her dreams and what will follow will be happier for everyone.
Sometimes it is hard to admit that we do not know what is best for someone else, especially a child, but in this case, it is better to accept what is than to fight it. Go with the flow. We are usually happier when we do this.
Dr. JoAnne Barge is a licensed psychologist and licensed marriage and family therapist with offices in Brentwood. Visit her at www.drbarge.com or send your anonymous questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Got something on your mind? Let us help you with your life matters, because it does.