48 answers

My 16-Yr Old Announced She's Bisexual

My daughter and I had a deep discussion yesterday, following an interrupted Mother's Day (due to ex-husband issues). Among other things, she "came out" to me that she is bisexual and just asked her best friend to go out with her (she also informed me her friend is definitely gay). I'm trying to be open-minded, but in the end I'm just a heterosexual mommy who is trying to keep her child healthy, happy and sane.

So ... since she is now dating another girl, am I supposed to restrict sleep-overs with this friend? If it were a boy, I certainly wouldn't let him come over and sleep in her room with her! Since she has many sleepovers with girlfriends, should I be restricting her participation. Should I even worry about?! I guess I don't have to worry about her becoming pregnant (trying to see the humorous, positive side).

To be honest, I'm struggling with this announcement. I certainly don't mean to offend anyone of differing sexual orientation by my questions. I have had gay friends (they moved away), but never a very close friend that I could ask these questions. I also think it's a natural thing for teenagers to explore their sexuality and my daughter has been disappointed that boys haven't asked her out. (She's a smarty pants and I feel scares them all away with her cutting remarks and criticisms.)

Any advice on how to handle all of this? My daughter is extremely stressed out about the difficulties between her father and I. We've been divorced for almost 13 years, but it has been terrible the whole time. I don't want to stress her out even more with my response to her honesty. Help ...

5 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

First, I gotta say "WOW!". I was overwhelmed with the wonderful, promt, and varying responses I received and was so happy to discover this whole "MamaSource" really works!! This was the first time I posted a question and was so happy to get EVERYONE's input. I don't have girlfriends I could discuss this with, so I really wanted to get some opinions.

Now - for an update. My daughter and I have continued to discuss the subject, my views on sleepovers, and the whole thing in general. For all those wondering, no, she is not sexually active and never has been with either sex. I was pretty sure when she turned 16 she was the classic "sweet 16 and never been kissed". She and her girlfriend have kissed on the cheek once or twice and that's it. Heck I remember "practicing" french kissing with girlfriends when I was younger, so I think I'm okay so far.

My daughter's girlfriend told her she was a bit uncomfortable "going out" because she was concerned it would ruin their wonderful friendship. We discussed how that can happen many times with heterosexuals and then you're left without your very good friend when things don't work out sexually (not fun and a waste of a good friendship). Over the past few weeks, they've talked some more and will be "taking it slow" so they are both comfortable and can keep open communication going So - she's planning now for a "first date" this summer. Ok - we'll see where it goes.

I absolutely agree with so many that my daughter is just not getting the same support does with the special girlfriend and is longing to have a deeper relationship to check it all out. And when I say "check it all out", the kids hasn't been on a first date, ever! I moved out of the house when I was 16 (and had already been thru several pregnancy tests), so again, I'm struggling to understand what she must be going through.

We discussed again the ground rules when it comes to sex and sleepovers. Interested in someone sexually (I don't care which gender), no 1:1 sleepovers. She also understands what a serious step it is to enter into a sexual relationship and doesn't plan on moving quickly into that arena at all any time soon. She knows it changes everything and should be handled with great care and respect.

We have continued to discuss the difficulties and stress she faces (heck we all face) with shared custody. Admittedly, she finds it difficult to know "who's right" when we both have different stories to tell and advise to give. I asked her to consider that we might both be "right" and to listen with her heart or ask for more details when she feels our information is confusing. When I say the sky is blue and he says it's purple, she'll just need to go with her gut. I can't make magic and that fact that he puts her in the middle and she feels she can't say "no" and tell him it makes her uncomfortable is something we'll continue to work on. We have done inconsistent counseling to get through some rough patches, but she doesn't feel like more frequent counseling will resolve everything. It won't, but it can't hurt either. I'll make some appts.

Lastly, my daughter has not shared this with her brother, father or anyone else but her immediate friends. I talked about when her brother should be "brought into the loop" and that if things progress the appropriateness of telling him sooner rather than later so he doesn't hear it from someone else :( I'm not really sure how he'll accept or understand the meaning of all of it. He's extremely close to her and to make a long story short her father has put her in a position of "mommy" to him since we split when they were 3 and 1 yrs old. Another burden my daughter carries and I try so hard to break for her.

Anyway - enough typing for now. I'll apologize beforehand for any typos or missed words. I didn't scroll back through to edit ;)

Thanks again, everyone!!

Featured Answers

honestly I would treat it like you would any dating situation.

If you wouldn't let boys spend the night, don't let her.
Same rules apply.

In this case.. just let her explore herself.

3 moms found this helpful

More Answers

B.,

I would contact PFLAG it is a lesbian/gay/bisexual group that could help you with any questions you have and how to talk to your daughter about it. As far as sleep overs go, I would get a clearer understanding of what sexual activities your daughter is active in or if she is(she may think she's bi because she kissed another girl or had sex with her- see what the extent of the relationship is)-- then based on that info, you can see if you should not allow sleepovers with the girlfriend- but friends are ok etc. I would also encourage you to get your daughter one on one counseling for handling the divorce issues. I think it would be very beneficial to her especially at this critical stage in her life. Good luck to you!

Molly

4 moms found this helpful

honestly I would treat it like you would any dating situation.

If you wouldn't let boys spend the night, don't let her.
Same rules apply.

In this case.. just let her explore herself.

3 moms found this helpful

I've got that "oh no I thought I was liberal why am I reacting this way" t-shirt, and the companion scarf:"I'm worried she'll make bad choices in partners because her dad and I have a terrible relationship after our divorce when she was 4 years old".

My daughter is almost 21 now, and I found out she identified as bi when she was about the age of your daughter. (She didn't tell me herself though.) My reaction was a lot like yours, similar concerns AND "silver lining" thoughts.

Give yourself a big round of applause that she felt like she could talk to you about this. That speaks volumes to your relationship with her, and the home in which she was raised.

Second, give yourself time. Your feelings will most likely evolve - I know mine did. While I still worry about an unforgiving world and the difficulties she may face if she ends up with a woman, I worry more about the quality of the relationship than the gender.

I think it's valid to let her know where you stand on the issues of ANY sexual activity at her age, regardless of orientation. And they can't hear too much about safety.

Connie

3 moms found this helpful

Wow! This is a touchy subject! But lets just go with some facts. Biblical facts...God made male and female to be one. not any other way or any more than 2. I think that her feelings are natural..we have these natural feelings but during certain times and without proper direction you can get confused. I do think exploration of herself is ok. Hopefully she will get a sense of this not feeling totally fulfillng. My best advice to you if you do not already is to find a good Church and get some basis of moral teaching so that she can better stear through this life. Looking back at my crazy past, I wish that is what my parents had done. As far as allowing the friend to sleep over, I think it is ok, spend as much time with them as you can, get to know her too. The more involved you are, the better. Good luck and God Bless

3 moms found this helpful

I'd like to first correct the AIDs/HIV comment. It is in fact very difficult to transmit HIV from one woman to another. This risk is minimal. Do some research into transmission of STD's between women for yourself. I dated a researcher a few years back who worked specifically on this subject for the govt. I learned a lot about this type of thing. Time to do some research mom. :)

Sorry this will be a bit long... :)

I dated a gal several years ago whose daughter came out to us as Bi. As a lesbian couple you'd have thought there would be no issue - her mom had a fit - yelled at her and called her names and such! I didn't get that - it certainly wasn't productive in any way and it caused a lot of problems. Then came the issue of the girlfriend staying over night. Her mom did a complete 180 and said yeah sure and said they could sleep in the same bed, go ahead have sex - whatever! Talk about confusing for all involved. Her daughter asked me for some guidance since I was the only one not freaking and she knew I have had the ability to be reasonable and consistent. What we worked out was this:

She was just fine as she was. If she was confused - who cares? All kids are confused about something at this age - it is part of being 16. She could be straight - she could be lesbian - does it matter? No. We talked about safe sex openly and in detail(we already knew she had been active with boys so...). I pulled out my lesbian handbook on sex and read the sections on safe sex together so she would know what was risky with women and what was not...I stayed within her comfort level. She didn't want to know HOW to do anything - she could figure that out on her own. She just wanted to be safe. Her mom had never gone over safe sex practices with her - even after she found out her daughter was sexually active - just threw her a box of condoms and said use them. We discussed boundaries: She could have her girlfriend sleep over - but they would NOT be allowed to share the same bed at night. This made sense to her. She was given the gift to express her relationship in front of us - whether that was snuggling, quick kisses, whatever was appropriate - no long make-out sessions tho...she needed to know that she was normal and that she had some boundaries within which to learn about herself and explore her sexuality. We set up ground rules for dating and such. Just normal parental responsibilities here...nothing special.

Joining PFLAG or COLAGE or both would be a great idea for you and your daughter. They will teach you a tremendous amount of what it really is to be gay/lesbian/bi, etc... in today's world. The simple fact is that really where you live and how your parents were raised plays a large part in how you are treated by family and community. If you live in a tiny town where homophobia is rampant - yes you will have a problem if you come out. However, if you live in a town where being gay means nothing, your parents were raised to accept others and not judge, and there are support systems and an LGBT group at the local high-school, you are less likely to have a problem.

It is seeming to be 'cool' to be bi these days for the kids, and I do think it is better than hiding who you are in fear of your life. I would prefer that is be 'cool' to just be who you are...but we'll get there someday too. :) Also, depending on where you live will make a large difference in how you are treated as an adult who is LGBT. I am lesbian but have no issues in my community. I have a partner, I share custody of my two younger boys with their father, I am a known figure in my community and anyone who meets and works with me finds out sooner or later (usually sooner) that I am lesbian. No one cares. I am just another human out there working and raising a family. I just happen to be doing that with another woman. :) It is getting easier and easier to be Gay, lesbian, bi in many areas...thank goodness! It really is about time.

The bottom line here is that your daughter should be treated with respect and accepted for who she is - regardless of her sexuality. Her sexuality does not make her who she is - it is just a part of who she is as if her sense of humor or her choice in clothing
. She is still the same kid you knew the second before she told you - the only thing that changed was that now you know a little more about what is going on inside her. How awesome that she trusted you enough to talk to you about this. It is a TOUGH thing to talk to your parents about - regardless of how old you are. My mom had a fit 8.5 yrs ago when I came out - and to this day she still won't accept it.

Does your daughter need counseling? Well, for the issues relating to the difficulties between you and her father, she probably does. Are those difficulties the cause of her bisexuality? Does it matter? But I doubt it... Would counseling help her sort out who she is...maybe - but so will time and experience. :)

If you want to help your daughter simply be honest and say "Honey, I don't know a thing about what you are going through. I have never been bi and I have no basis of understanding. I love you for you - I don't care about your sexuality. How can I help you? What would you like to share with me so that I can learn more about you? I am interested in what you are going through. I'll support you in your choices even if I don't understand or agree with them...I love you for you." Some people don't agree with that last one...supporting a choice even when you don't agree. But I have learned that when I support my kids choices even when I don't agree (and I tell them I don't agree, but that it is their choice and they have to learn) they learn more. And that is what they need to do. I am not talking about supporting the choice to use drugs and alcohol - that is absolutely NOT OK...but personal choices within reason. How else do they learn?

Find some good literature out there for teens, for you, for your family. She will need guidance but nothing more than how to navigate relationships and how to be careful with her heart. Also, if your area is not accepting of LGBT folk, she will need to know how to be careful - when to not be 'out', and when it is OK.

I wish her much luck. I wish I had had a parent (my mom was a single mom) who had been accepting of me as a kid..or ever for that matter. I met my dad and step-mom when I was 17 and they was the first people in my life to ever accept me for me - regardless of my faults. They loved me in the truly unconditional manner we should all be loved in. I am working hard to pass that along to my kids... If you can simply accept her for who she is and learn with her you'll do fine.

Good luck...

Warmly,
J.

3 moms found this helpful

This is a tough one. Most parents have the "usual" parenting stresses to get thru during the teen years, but because our society is still not completely grasping all sexuality choices, parents aren't given enough tools. I think you are very brave and sound like a wonderful mom.

My advice on the sleepovers: if she asks if her "girlfriend" can stay over, explain that the rules would be the same if she was dating a boy (that's if you wouldn't allow a boy to stay over). Make it clear that it doesn't matter if it's a girl or boy; it's not appropriate to have sleepovers at this age with someone you are "dating."

I do have to say though, that when I was a teen - some 20 years ago - my parents opened their house up to my friends. Anyone could sleep over, but girls in one room, boys in the other. You obviously will have to sleep at some point and can't be watching every move. BUT, if you have the "sex talk" with your daughter, and even your 14 yr old, too, explaining the complications (and joys) of sex, relationships, etc. and do it in a positive way, then you will give her the tools to make informed, mature decisions whether she's dating a boy or girl. Sure, she can't get pregnant with a girlfriend, but there are still dangers of STD's, regardless of gender.

Be open, honest, and do not be afraid to ask for help. Talk to the school health teacher or counselor. Look for books. If you don't know how to approach it, it's better to ask for answers than to make them up and confuse her even more.

Keep up the good work, mom! And good luck. =)

2 moms found this helpful

Hi B.,
First, I would say that it is wonderful that she felt comfotable speaking to you about it. Many teenagers keep it a secret and suffer in silence because of it. It shows that she feels close and connected to you. And I also commend you for wanting to do the best thing for her even as you are struggling with the news, as many parents do.

If you would feel cautious about having your daughter have sleepovers with a boyfriend, then I think the same would apply here. However, I don't think you need to restrict sleepovers with other girls. Just as heterosexual women aren't attracted to every man they see and are friends with, the same is true here.

For you, you might like to find support at an organization like PFLAG--parents and friends of lesbians and gays. There are also many other resources here in the Bay Area. The SF LGBT center can probably connect you with what is available.

My parents struggled with the news, too, but, like you, really loved me and wanted to support me through it. That was many years ago now, and I still have wonderful relationship with them. I am so grateful to have them in my life--especially now that I am a mom.

Best,
E.

2 moms found this helpful

hi there...
my brother came out around college age... age 23? and i am ten years younger. from a sibling perspective, can i make a suggestion? if you think your other children are mature enough to handle this information, please don't lie to them or hide it from them. chances are they already know something is up and trying to leave them in the dark will confuse them possibly.

i guess parents will start dealing with this at much younger ages now that things have become so open. i'm not saying that's a bad thing - just a sign of the times.

i second the suggestion about contacting PFLAG... and continuing to show your love and support for your daughter "no matter what."

good luck and it may be just a phase but better to be loving and supportive either way and continue it no matter the outcome.

2 moms found this helpful

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