Monday, June 02, 2008

Just Grow up! Oh, is that all.

Advice on how (and when) to come out to my children has been coming at me from several sources. They are not altogether welcome but important to listen to. Important, because it comes from some counselors with some familiarity with the situation and with coming out stuff. Not altogether welcomed because I'm (overly?) sensitive to such criticism, intended as critiques.

I want to focus on the children (older teenagers) and their needs. But when I get critiques (criticisms) that I'm being "too self-focused, too narcissistic, too focused on my inner struggles, not focused enough on them" I get confused, depressed, and I want to run away. (Yes, I know that is not the adult response, but it's still what I want to do).
So, is this what I say, "I'm your father. I love you. I'm gay. That's why we're getting a divorce. Any questions?"
How do I talk about me and focus on them and not reveal too much and respond to where they are (of course I have no idea where that is)? How do I be the parent and not try to be the friend or make them confidants (inappropriately).
I think I'm not a very good parent, sometimes. But trust me, they could have done a helluva lot worse! I feel like I need to "grow up" so much more than I have. I am feeling the scared little kid yearning for hugs. I have to be the adult, the parent, the responsible one.
I know this will take time.
I have a lot of growing up to do. A lot. And fast.


BentonQuest said...

Joe, be kind to yourself. You are intelligent and you are aware of what is going on. You will know what to do and you will know what to say. When the time is right, it will happen. Trust that God is going with you in this journey.

Ur-spo said...

there comes a point where too many people giving too much advise is a headache.
perhaps in the end you should go with your intuition. that usually works best in the long run.

Hirsute polyamorous bear said...

I go with ur-Spo; he, er, know.

Kidding aside, Joe, your heart knows what to do. I trust you and I trust it.

manxxman said...

Who wouldn't want a hug on one of the most important and scary days of their lives. I know I could have used one when I was telling my kids.

Love yourself as best you can, you'll always love your girls.

Jeremiah Andrews said...

When you need the words they will come, when we feel lost for words God puts words "Into our Spirits" they call that Inspiration.

You know what has to be said, we all grow up sometimes quicker sometimes slower but it all comes out in the wash right???

Peace, Bear, hang in there.


A Troll At Sea said...


Getting married makes you grow up. Having kids makes you grow up. Giving up on your dream/idea of who you are makes you grow up. So I suspect you are doing fine in that department.

It's true you need to be careful about what you say, or, since I think your bare-bones approach is probably the best, HOW you say it.

I was only able to tell two of my children in person, and that was terrible. But I started with the hardest thing -- perhaps not for you, as you are, figuratively and literally, in a different place: we are getting a divorce.

Then I told them the reason, keeping it as brief as possible. I am pretty sure they can't take more than the short form on board at this point, anyway.

I can't remember everything else I said, though I did have the main points written down so I wouldn't forget anything, but I am pretty sure I said that this did not mean that I loved them, or their mother, any less.

Then I said that I was happy to answer any questions they might have.

I have no idea what it looks like to them [though I know that in one case at least it caused a lot more trouble than I was allowed to see], but they have been wonderful to me.

I think if you are honest, and make clear that you still love them, it will all come out in the wash.

It may take a while. My lover's daughter weighed in some twenty-five years after the fact with some pretty harsh words, so you should be prepared for anger at some point... not necessarily right away.

But above all, breathe deep. Don't let panic make you say too much, or too little.

I do think making an outline of what you want to say will help; I was so sure my second son would never talk to me again that I was in a COMPLETE state, and could never have done it without. But then, that's me.

Don't let the professionals get between you and your children. As others have said, follow your heart.

Bless you.

Lemuel said...

I'm going to venture a guess that when the sun sets you know yourself and your children better than any analyst. Their input can be helpful, but do not let it overwhelm or mis-guide you against your better judgment.

I am also going to venture another guess that you were a much better parent than you are giving yourself credit for. If you were not, you would not be agonizing over this question.

As for growing up, "someone" once began a famous line with "unless you become like little children..." Sometimes I think this whole adult thing is overrated. :)

Anonymous said...

From an ex-wife of a gay man: This is more a comment on a comment, I suppose. My husband was very mature when we married, and he was an active engaged father for the first nine year of our marriage. But in the next ten years of our marriage, he became totally self-centered and immature in his dealings with the kids and me. Why?

Now that I know the truth about his struggles, I realize he began to be turned inward, as he came to terms with the awful fact that he had built a family and would one day tear it down (at least in the sense of how he thought his family would be). By the time he had an adolescent fit and came out ten more years later, he was emotionally a bit child-like. He had little understanding of cause and effect relationships (as in doing something stupid can make something bad happen in turn). He had no idea how to talk with his teenage children, had no idea how to care about them and relate to them. He had no idea how to put anyone but himself first in priority in his life.

I'm pleased to report that in the past year and a half, he is slowly maturing once again. He has had to work at it.

So I commend Joe's plan to grow up. Keeping such a big secret messes a person up. Now that you've decided to share your secret, healing and growing have a chance to begin.

Just my opinion.