My son, before he came out.

My son, before he came out.

My child is LGBT. This is not what I envisioned for his or her life.

This is a common reaction for parents of LGBTQ children. Who, when imagining who their child will be when they grow up, imagines them gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender? I know I didn’t and I’ve not yet met a parent who did. Those of us who are mothers of sons imagine what kind of man he will become, what kind of work he will pursue, who will he marry, will she like me, will we become close, how many children will he have. Mothers of daughters imagine many of the same things and often think about what kind of wedding will she have and what a beautiful bride she will be, what kind of man will she marry. We don’t image that he will be gay, she will be a lesbian and we certainly don’t imagine that our son will become our daughter or our daughter will become our son.

Then one day our child tells us they are gay or lesbian. One of my first reactions was that he would never have children, never get married. My vision of the daughter that I never had (also known as a daughter-in-law!) disappeared. And I wasn’t even sure at that point what to replace my vision for his life with. Mothers of daughters lose their vision of the “bride” and fathers their vision of walking their daughter down the aisle. They too lose the vision of their daughter becoming a mother.

When your daughter comes out and tells you “she” is really a boy and now wants you to call her by another name and start using male pronouns, the vision of your child’s life is completely shattered. You thought you had a daughter and now she is telling you that no, you have a son. Along with all the expectations mentioned above, he expects you to call him by a new name and refer to him with different pronouns.

Maybe it was your son who came to you and told you that he was really a girl. Whatever visions you had for your son’s life have to be completely changed, much like a daughter who is transitioning to a boy. And for some parents, their son or daughter comes out as gender queer. What the heck does that mean anyway? They tell you they don’t feel either male or female or that they float between the two. Now what are you supposed to think? And sometimes the pronouns they ask you to use are completely foreign to you, such as they and them or ze and zir.

All parents have dreams and expectations for their children and those of us whose children have grown know that our children don’t always meet our dreams and expectations whether they are straight or LGBTQ. It’s just the way it is. Nevertheless, for parents of LGBTQ kids, the realization comes in a more abrupt manner and we have to deal with the emotions that come up for us. How we deal with those emotions can make a world of difference in our families and in our relationships with our children.

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