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About Coming Out to Our Kids

Discussion in 'LGBT Later in Life' started by SevnButton, Nov 18, 2021.

  1. SevnButton

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    What worked well for you, and what didn't, when you came out to your kids? I'm in a struggling hetero marriage, I'm not straight, and I have 4 kids, from 13 to 24 years old. My wife thinks it's only fair to let the kids them know the truth about this area of tension between her and me. It would be nice be more authentic with my kids, although I've always thought of my wife's and my issues around sex to be something that is not our kids' business.

    Your thoughts?
     
  2. BiGemini87

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    Hey, @SevnButton! I suppose it really comes down to whether your bisexuality is the reason (or among the reasons) your relationship is struggling. As far as your sex life is concerned, you're right; what you and your wife do/don't do in the bedroom is no one's business but yours, and moreover, most kids don't need or want the deets of their parents' sex lives.

    My two cents would be to give them the cliff notes version of whatever's going on between you two. I don't recall in previous discussions, but are you out later in life, or have you known for a long time that you're bisexual? Was this common knowledge prior to your marriage for your wife as well, or has she only been made aware of it recently? Are your struggles borne of not having explored your same-sex attraction?

    I'm just trying to get a clear picture of the problem in order to better assist. :slight_smile:
     
  3. chicodeoro

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    I'd be interested if anyone here has come out as trans to their kids.

    For this is what faces me, sometime, probably next year. And because he is my stepson I'm likely to be rejected completely, my heart broken. I'm dreading it.
     
  4. quebec

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    SevnButton.....I'm not bi, I'm gay but the coming out to kids is really about the same. My kids are three boys, all grown with families and kids of their own, so that is different. When I came out to my wife, she wanted to know two things right away....1) Did I want to change our lives/our marriage and 2) Was I going to come out to everybody. She was really concerned about both of those...actually almost panicked about them. I assured her that 1) I didn't want to change anything about our marriage, that I loved her and had no intention of looking for a boyfriend and absolutely did not want a divorce. In fact my biggest fear in coming out to her was that she might want a divorce. We've been together for 43 years now, she is my best friend and I do love her...just not a sexual way. We chose to stay together and are actually closer now than we were before I came out to her. 2) I had not planned to come out to anyone to begin with. I came out here on Empty Closets first and actually said in a couple of posts that, other than EC, I would carry the secret of my sexuality to my grave. However, after 15 months on EC and 3 months talking to a really wonderful therapist I realized that I did need to come out to my wife. I came to the conclusion that keeping the secret from her any longer was not right and would prevent me from making progress as I worked through decades of shame and guilt. So on March 17, 2016 I came out to my wife. It was so very difficult. I also told her that I had no plans to tell anyone else which included our three sons. But you can never tell what the future holds! In November of 2016 I was faced with a very serious surgery that had to be done and which had a 45% chance of failure. I did what I could to prepare insurance documents, my will, etc. prior to the surgery and I made sure that my oldest son knew where everything was in the event that he had to help his mother if the surgery did not go well. That was when I decided that my son would hear from me that I was gay in the event that I didn't make it. I didn't want his mother to have to keep that secret. So the night before the surgery I took my son and his wife aside - I didn't want him to have to keep a secret from his wife - and told them that I was gay. My oldest son is a pastor. It was very difficult, but because I had never in all our years of marriage gone behind his mothers back, he was able to accept what I told him. I am very proud of him for being able to accept his father as a gay man in spite of so many religious groups condemnation of our LGBTQ Community. The status remained like that until this last Christmas. My middle son came to me on Christmas evening and said he wanted to talk. He was shaking and obviously very nervous after some random talk he came out to me as pansexual. He is married and has two step sons and one beautiful little boy of his own. His wife is aware and accepting...she is a strong ally of the LGBTQ Community. While he was talking I was thinking..."Is this when I should come out to him?" And so I did. He found out that night that his father is gay and we both shared a lot of tears! So that is where it stands now Sevn. Two out of three of my sons know I'm gay and each found out because of circumstances that happened at the time. I don't know when or if I'll tell my youngest. I guess I'll just let time roll on and see what happens. Your children are younger, but kids today are a lot more educated on sexuality than we ever were when we were young. Believe me, they really do know a lot!. The odds are that they already have an idea of what is going on! I'd say don't get in a rush, but keep a lookout for a time when circumstances provide the right time for that conversation.
    .....David :gay_pride_flag:
     
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  5. SevnButton

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    Thanks @BiGemini87 - my wife and I were married 28 years ago, and I came out to her on our honeymoon. Yeah, I know I handled that terribly. I didn't know how to find good resources back then, and I was not comfortable with the few that we did find. I went back into deep-closet, even though my wife did occasionally prod me. Why come out to the kids now? Pre-covid I was participating with a monthly bi group. When the kids naturally asked where I was going, it would have been nice to authentically tell them the truth. And authenticity is always a good thing to model for the kids, including the part about having no shame for being who we truly are.

    The struggles in my marriage are due to many reasons, my non-standard sexual orientation being just one of them. I had hoped that being authentic toward my wife would become the foundation of a better connection between us. It hasn't really worked out that way. We've done over a decade of marriage counseling, but no longer do.
     
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  6. BiGemini87

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    I'm sorry to hear that: that you didn't have the resources back then, that it was so much harder because of the stigma at the time--all of it. It can't have been easy, hiding such an integral part of yourself. It's regrettable that things haven't improved with your wife. I suppose, depending on what direction your relationship is going in--particularly if you and your wife are talking about separating, a break, or at the very least, it looks like it's heading that way--it might be a good idea to clue the kids in.

    How much or how little you divulge is up to you, of course. Have you and your wife talked about how you want to broach the topic with them? I think as long as you're both on the same page, it should be fine. Maybe give the kids the basic rundown, and if they have any questions, confer with your wife over how you want to answer them. Anything to do with your orientation itself is up to your discretion, however, as it is your story to tell.
     
  7. justaguyinsf

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    The reason for coming out sounds vague to me. Is it really your sexuality that's causing the problems with your wife, or are there other things? Wouldn't it be better to first get things to a point of resolution with your wife, which could include a joint decision about how much to tell your kids? I would be careful if I were you about drawing your kids into your difficulties with your wife.
     
  8. SevnButton

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    Hi @justaguyinsf -
    Your points are good, all of them. I especially take to heart your caution about bringing our kids into the difficulties between my wife and me. Yes, it would be really good for my wife and me to get to a point of resolution and then decide together how or if we want to involve the kids. One of the big issues between my wife and me is that when the going gets tough, our communication and interaction does not fare well. We have many areas of friction, including our parenting styles, our philosophical beliefs, and our approaches toward finding happiness. Over 10 years counseling didn't get us to resolution on those things.

    My wife would say my sexual orientation is the fundamental issue between us. I would say all of these other issues that seem to block our emotional intimacy are the problem, and since we lack emotional intimacy, sexual intimacy is kind of off the table. It's a shame.

    I think my wife is preparing to leave me, and if that happens she wants the kids to believe as she does, that the reason would be my sexual orientation. When she gets to a point of feeling like she can't go on, she declares the kids will know.
     
  9. SevnButton

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    @quebec / David, thank you sharing your story. I do better with most anything if I've thought about it ahead of time. If I wait for the right time, then I need to have some idea of what I'm going to say when that right time comes along. How did you start the conversation with each of your sons? What were the words you used?
     
  10. Chip

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    Edit: The below was written before the most recent posts. I think most of it still applies. Let me know if clarification is still needed.

    The fact that you're here at EC would indicate that simply being bisexual isn't the problem. If you were bi and equally attracted to men and women, you could get married to a woman you love, engage in that relationship, and that's that, end of story. Emotionally healthy heterosexual couples who love each other feel no need to look outside of their marriage for fulfillment because they have what they want within the marriage. Same with gay marriages. Bisexual marriages are no different.

    So the deeper question that I think is worth looking at before you tell your kids is... are you really bi? Or are you closer to gay? If the latter is the case, then it's likely the issue with your relationship is underpinned by the idea that you aren't happy, and can't really be made happy, within the bounds of your current relationship. And if it isn't the case, and the main reason you are unhappy with your marriage has to do with fundamental incompatibility, inflexibility by your spouse, or other interpersonal issues, then what I'd be thinking about is, first, what you really want.

    The fact you spent 10 years in couples therapy (!) -- that's got to be close to a record -- and things are still not working points to one or more fundamental incompatibilities. So perhaps one or both of you are dancing around the real issue that you aren't sexually attracted to her. If that's the case, then you (collectively) have a decision to make: either acknowledge that this will not ever happen, and what that means. Some couples decide to open up the marriage. Others end the marriage. A few stay in the marriage. There's no right or wrong answer, but the big issue is, what do you want?

    And then, if sexual orientation is the issue, perhaps you really look at whether you are bi, or whether you were gay and got yourself into a heterosexual marriage (not at all uncommon for anyone over 50). This, in turn, takes you back to what to tell the kids.

    If you're attracted to guys and really want to have a relationship with a guy, whether you're bi or gay, it makes sense to tell your kids that you aren't straight, and frankly discuss what this might mean (end of marriage, separation, etc.) If you have no desire to be with anyone else, then telling the kids for the sake of authenticity is still important, but it's more in the realm of "This is part of who I am, it won't change anything, but I just felt it's important to be honest with you."

    I do fundamentally agree with your wife that there's value in being authentic. But I also think that authenticity should be complete. Simply telling them you're bi and that you're having some troubles with your marriage isn't going to be reassuring by itself. Saying you're gay and figuring out what to do (if that's true) is helpful. Saying you're bi, having troubles with your marriage, and trying to figure out what to do, while not reassuring, is at least honest. And I think even a typical 13 year old can handle that sort of discussion. I would suggest that, especially for the younger ones, they be encouraged to go to a few sessions with a therapist after the conversation (depending on what you are actually saying) so they have a neutral party to discuss what they are feeling.
     
    #10 Chip, Nov 19, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2021
  11. Nickw

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    I agree with a lot of what @Chip wrote except for his comparison between gay marriages and straight marriages and how that compared to being bisexual. I know plenty of gay couples who DO look outside the marriage. This is not related to their sexuality. It is because of their relationship. I’m not sure a bisexual is more likely “gay” because he is also attracted to men while remaining married to a woman. In your case, it seems, you have not indicated a desire to stray outside the marriage with another man and have remained committed to your wife.

    @svenbutton, I struggle with a similar issue. That is to divulge to my family my sexuality. My wife and I have decided that it really isn’t anyone’s business. That is partly because so many gay folks in heterosexual marriages come out and then leave their spouses. It has become the stereotype and that stereotype is reinforced on this forum. Being a bisexual, I know that should my marriage fail it will be assumed it failed because I am really gay. My marriage was saved because I did come out to my wife. The honesty provided new vulnerability.

    So, your sexuality may well become the bad guy if your marriage should fail. So, why set it up for that to occur? I get that being authentic is important. I’m afraid we are a ways away from the acceptance of bisexuality and my feeling is you don’t need to carry the banner. In my opinion, you are not obligated to tell your children.
     
  12. justaguyinsf

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    Stand on what you think is the best thing to do and don't be bullied by your wife (simply say no). Have a plan ready in your mind as to what you will do if your wife decides to go ahead and tell your kids about your sexuality. Think about what you can say to explain as much as appropriate to them and reassure them of your love for them.
     
  13. Chip

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    Sorry, I did not mean to imply that there are no non-traditional marriages. There are plenty of marriages, both heterosexual and homosexual, that are open in one way or another. There are differing thoughts on this as to how emotionally healthy they are. And it's my guess that the emotional health of *any* marriage, open or not, is all over the spectrum. Nonetheless, they certainly happen. And of course, there are people in polyamorous relationships as well, and some of those are extremely healthy relationships.

    I think there are arguments for and against this. What I keep coming back to is, if our relationship to our spouse and to our kids is to be as full and meaningful as it can be, I think we owe it to both to be authentic, especially if the other parent feels it is important or wants to disclose it. When we hold something back that is meaningful, it's going to impact our relationships, and it's also going to impact our own sense of worthiness.
     
    #13 Chip, Nov 21, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2021
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  14. Nickw

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    @Chip

    I know I might be infringing on @svenbutton ‘s thread here. But, I believe children need to understand what sexuality really is without the prejudice of “this is why your dad and I are having issues”. The message should be “I am attracted to both men and women but that does not affect my ability to love your mom”.

    Just because I think the male surfer on the beach is hot doesn’t mean I cannot love my wife and provide what the relationship needs. Sexuality should not be weaponized because a spouse cannot accept it.

    My wife can be angry at my dishonesty in not letting her know of my sexuality. That’s fair and can contribute to issues of trust. But, she cannot be angry at who I am or there is something amiss in the marriage that is not the fault of my sexuality.
     
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  15. quebec

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    Nick..... I really like your post. You have several sentences that I think are real gems:

    Sexuality should not be weaponized because a spouse cannot accept it.
    “I am attracted to both men and women but that does not affect my ability to love your mom”.
    My wife can be angry at my dishonesty in not letting her know of my sexuality. That’s fair and can contribute to issues of trust. But, she cannot be angry at who I am or there is something amiss in the marriage that is not the fault of my sexuality.

    You have made some excellent points with those comments. Whether they would be accepted in the heat of an argument is another issue, but they are still excellent comments. Thank you for sharing these with us. I would like to ask your permission to use those phrases in some of the posts that I make.
    .....David :gay_pride_flag:
     
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  16. Chip

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    Absolutely, positively agree. The fact that someone is bisexual (or gay) is not, in and of itself, why a couple would be having problems.

    What's causing the problems is the impact of that awareness: In the case of a bisexual man in a heterosexual relationship, it could upset the woman because she fears she won't/can't be enough, that he will cheat, that he wasn't truthful with her, whatever it may be. The sexual orientation isn't the problem; it's the perception behind it, or the dishonesty that came from not disclosing it that's the issue.

    There should be no stigma around being bi (or, for that matter, gay). And thus, all the more reason why I believe that kids should know. Because if it later comes out and the kids did not know, the message they get is that this is something to hide or be ashamed of. Or (and I think this is a lot more likely) the kids often *do* suspect or know, because either they've heard things, or they've sensed something. Kids are perceptive and often are listening when we don't think they are; that's part of their hard wiring that helps keep them safe, and helps them maintain connection. So if the kids do know or suspect, and there's a "don't-ask-don't-tell," it sends the message to the kids that there's something shameful about it, and that's why it's not being discussed.

    So as part of that, I feel like kids do deserve to understand this, and to have positive role models portrayed to them by their parents.
     
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  17. Nickw

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    @quebec

    Sure, you can use any comment I make. I am quite sure I have not said anything others on this forum have not expressed in the past.

    I hope I didn’t come across as being too sensitive about this. I feel that @svenbutton has been extremely fair and caring with his wife and she has, in the past, appeared quite willing to blame much of the marriage issues on his sexuality.
     
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  18. brainwashed

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    I actually agree with your wife on this question. The kids ALREADY know something is up - kids are smart, really, really smart. They more than likely can feel the "negative energy". Help them understand so their anxiety is lowered.

    Again my opinion(s). But it is your kids business. Your family is just that a family and it's my belief that honest open communication with the kids will ultimately allow them to be more open and honest with you and people they take on as partners in life.
     
    #18 brainwashed, Nov 23, 2021
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  19. SevnButton

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    @Nickw , your post is brilliant and helpful, thank you.
    My wife can be angry at whatever and whomever she wants, her anger is not mine to manage. If she chooses to be upset at me for communicating with other people when I was trying to figure things out (while always remaining faithful) then I can't stop her. Being angry at me for pushing aside my non-straight nature and staying quiet about it when I didn't know what else to do is akin to, say, being angry at an Asperger person for lacking social graces.

    My attitude toward my wife's emotional expression changes sharply when the kids are involved. If it becomes advisable or necessary for me to be out to my kids, it must not be a burden or a threat to them. Maybe one of them will turn out to have a non-mainstream orientation.
     
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  20. Nickw

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    @svenbutton

    This is a fine line you are walking and I am sure it is taking a toll on you. I wonder how long you can continue to do that? I’m sure you have considered what your end game is. Talking to your kids may need to consider where you see yourself in the future?

    Do you believe your wife is capable of working with you in how you disclose your sexuality to your kids in a way that is fair?
     
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