Six-year-old tells his mum he wants to be gay when he grows up and she has the perfect response
A mother had the perfect response to her six-year-old son telling her he wants to be gay when he grows up, but his father’s reaction has left her with doubts.
Realising that his innocent question had a “testing-the-water tone” to it, she replied that sometimes two men do marry each other, and sometimes two women marry each other, and it’s called being gay.
The boy then told his mother: “I think I’d like to be gay when I grow up.”
“I told him what I want is for him to be happy. Then we talked about trains for a while,” she said – showing just how simple it is to discuss sexuality with kids.
But his father’s response was somewhat different. He said: “He’ll always be my son and I’ll always love him, but I might have some trouble accepting that. Life is harder for gay people,” adding that he doesn’t think their son is old enough to know he’s gay.
The mum wrote: “I asked him to at least be prepared to be supportive if he comes out (again?). It’s my understanding that at least some queer people do know they’re queer by age 6.
“I hope I handled the talk well. I didn’t think this would come up this young! Should I revisit this or let him lead?
“I don’t want him to feel like being gay is a big deal that we need to have family meetings about. But I don’t want him to think I’m ignoring it hoping it goes away either.”
The advice columnist praised the mother for her response, which addressed the matter using clear, age-appropriate language.
However, they struggled with the father’s position. “He says he might have trouble with the adult your child grows into while noting that life is harder for gay people. One way to assure life isn’t harder on our queer kids is for their parents to insist it not be,” they write.
“Your partner isn’t wrong to be skeptical – your kid is so very young. But his parents know him best, and you think it’s possible he was trying to communicate something to you about his future self. Maybe he was.”
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They suggest that the parents could use this moment as an opportunity to be a person who ensures the world isn’t harder on queer people.
“There’s no checklist to being the best ally possible; it’s up to you to bring your thoughts and actions into alignment in a way that make sense for your family,” they explain.
“This might be as simple as seeking out different kinds of storybooks (if you’re at a loss, talk to your local librarian).”
They conclude their advice by pointing out that, in a strange way, none of this has anything to do with whether or not the letter writer’s son is gay.
The boy might turn out to be straight – but either way, they write, “if you raise him with a sense that his parents are understanding and supportive of all people … you’ll be raising him to be a man who cannot keep issues at arm’s distance, who has learned a sensitivity to the variety of ways there are to be human.”