Update on My Gender Non Conforming Son

Updated on January 10, 2019
L.B. asks from Farmersville, CA
15 answers

I have asked some questions over the years regarding my son and this is not so much a question as it is a rant. My son is now 10 and his personality has not changed much over the years. He is still a super sweet, obedient, well mannered, slightly effeminate, loving and eager to please boy. I put aside my worries over time and just parented my son the best that I could. I admit always becoming uncomfortable when he displayed more effeminate tendencies. (Please don't judge, I judge myself enough. I know it is wrong and I pray to God to take it away and just be allowed to love my kid unconditionally. It is hard, I can only guess, to beat out the preconceived ideas of what men should be).
He recently confided that he found a boy cute. A small part of me freaked but the larger part of me just listened and gave support. It sucks though. I wish we lived in a different world where my beautiful son loving another boy was accepted. I think about my family and how they would take the news. Some would be fine but others would not and that really sucks. My son is beautiful and has the heart of an angel but all they will see is perversion and evil. I know some will way so that is not family you want around but his own grandparents??? How do I explain to my son that the grandparents he loves so much will not accept him or probably want him in his home. Anyway, just wanted to tell somebody as I have not talked to anyone about it.

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answers from Boston on

You are very open to your own struggles to accept him because he doesn't conform to what you and many others consider "normal." Your honesty is refreshing. There may be others in the family and the social circle who will struggle but may not be as hard line as you think. Maybe they are anti-gay because they think it's an abomination, and maybe they are anti-gay because they just don't think they know anyone who is. And when I say "gay," I include bi, trans, fluid and all other people who face discrimination.

It's one thing to be concerned at what our gender non-conforming kids will face. It's another to "freak out" and feel that everything "sucks" - so I think you need a lot of support and help for yourself to be able to be more comfortable. As your child enters puberty, his awakening hormones and desires will put more challenges in front of him. He's going to need you to be a lot more calm and relaxed than you are now.

I think you should reconsider using terms like "effeminate" - I know what you mean, but it puts a judgment on actions and mannerisms that reinforces the very stereotypes you oppose. We have lots of kids, teens and adults who exhibit a variety of behaviors and which don't necessarily line up with their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Mr. Rogers famously told a child worried about bad things to "look for the helpers." So I think it would help you - perhaps with the help of a counselor or a PFLAG group - to look for all the gay people who are "out" and strong and so much happier than they were when they were closeted. Start with Ellen Degeneres, not just for her personal story and the role model she has become, but for all the people she has encouraged and welcomed and supported on her show, from celebrities to rising stars to ordinary humans. Watch her shows and segments on youtube or On Demand, whatever you have. Just this week, she featured Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Kalen Allen, a, to some extent, your sense of desperation and panic.nd a young football player. Three different gay men with totally different mannerisms.There are hundreds of other examples.

You are trying to do this alone, which is increasing your sense of isolation and desperation. You need to give your son the sense that there is support for him - and that means finding support for yourself.

Whatever other people (grandparents, friends, the general public), your son needs to be raised with strength and resilience and self-acceptance. You are panicking before there is definite rejection from family. If they do, he needs to have the strength to get past it.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Look, he's 10 - not 20. Give him a chance to grow up.

If his grandparents can't accept him the way he is - that's on them - not you.

I TOTALLY get your own judgement and how you parent. Just stay the course, mama. You've got this. Just keep doing what it is you are doing and love your son unconditionally.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

You don't explain it to him, you just cut them out of your life if they can not accept him and tell him it is simply because you do not have to keep toxic people in your life just because they are family. My son is also gender nonconforming and one of his grandmothers is narrow minded about gender, we have not seen her in 10 years (my son is 13). You do what you have to in order to protect your kids.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Perhaps you should talk to a counselor about it.
You need a tool set to help you through this phase of parenting.
I agree you need to let him be a kid.
Puberty is a few years away yet and a lot may change - or may not.
If grandparents start getting judgey - who needs them?
Talking with a counselor now will help you talk out your fears and maybe help you help him navigate middle and high school a little better.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

first off, big kudos to you for recognizing and acknowledging your own discomfort and struggles.

i think at 10 that putting too much emphasis on being non-gender-conforming (or just plain gay) is overthinking it. he probably is- but he's only 10.

i think the most important thing you can do is join a group for parents of gay kids (i can't keep up with the letter acronyms) and get support for YOU supporting him. i'm glad you love him regardless, but your anxiety over it is affecting him. you need to get yourself to a calm and balanced state in order to support him appropriately.

he is fine. you need some help. that's okay.

stop projecting into the future and biting your nails over outing your son. you don't explain this stuff to a 10 year old. you wait until he asks for your help, and then you throw your support 100% behind him. if he doesn't want to tell them, it's his choice. if he does and they shun him, shun them right the hell back.

any family member who refused to accept my kids would never need to darken my doorstep again.

good luck.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

You're son is 10. Try to think back to when you were 10. Were you interested in boys? When I was 10, I tolerated boys. I found them to be annoying and obnoxious and very, very immature. The last thing I could picture doing was actually wanting to date a boy.

You have to think about what is actually age appropriate. It's not reasonable to think that he understands his feelings in the same way you do.

If he is gay, he is gay (and I am also using that word like Diane B, for simplicity), and you will love him and accept him and support him. If there are people in your life that cannot accept him, then they cannot be in his life.

My in-laws are the type to ask 5 year olds if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend. They think it's funny. I think it's bizarre. Hormones happen when they happen. Interest in dating happens when it happens. Why rush them? Your son will show an interest in someone one day, but you really should have a few years ... maybe 8 or 10.

For your sake, for your son's sake, stop thinking about his sexuality. He's only 10!!!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Please stop expecting your son to be something that "Everyone" else is.

He's TEN years old. Please stop trying to push him into a role or box. Just let him be. Love him unconditionally.

Stop worrying about things you cannot control.
Stop worrying about a future that isn't here yet.

You are overthinking things. it's almost like you are micromanaging him to be "gay". Stop. I know plenty of MEN who have effeminate ways and are NOT homosexuals.

STOP with the "oh my God he thinks a boy is cute". Just say that's great and ask him about the boy and other people in the class. You are freaking out over everything. I applaud you for noting your own shortcomings as a parent/mother. Please take a step back and just let your son be. Don't over analyze things. Don't "look" for something. Just let him be.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You may be surprised. In my sister's family, she has a niece would was bi then gay, and her very traditional grandfather just accepted it - but didn't comment. I think he kind of just ignored it. He kind of dealt with it like when she became vegan.

In my family, when my nephew came out, my mom was great and really, no one talked about it. The kid is the same kid he was the day before. He's just gay. To us, he's no different.

It may not be quite as big a deal as you are expecting is what I'm trying to say.

The thing is, if they are really that bad (perversion and won't allow you to visit, etc.) then .. sometimes a break is in order. That's not the end of the world either - you simply put your family first. My husband has taken a break from his family at various points in his life - we just managed. It wasn't the end of the world. Your kids come first.

Talking to a counselor may help you - just to vent, and get your fears out. I've been fearful as a parent before, and it can turn to anger and anxiety at times. Just getting it out without fear of being judged - even a session or two - very helpful.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Don’t out your son until he is ready. Love and support him unconditionally. I agree with AKmom that when the time comes cut them out. Our family is going through the same thing with my nephew, I love him unconditionally and this is something that was evident as a very young boy. He recently came out to my daughter and myself. He still hasn’t told his parents. We are here to support him!!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Please just put this away. You need to let your son be who he is without thinking about it so hard. You will not be able to change him. However, if you can get past the judgmental issues you have, that you readily admit to, and be his advocate, someone he can feel safe with, then you will be a good mother. Can you be a good mother? Can you put your feelings aside for him?

Read Marda’s comments over and over again.

These sound like harsh questions. But I think you need the harsh questions. When his conservative family members say things about him being “different”, the good mother will instantly rebuke them. The judgmental mother will hold back and care more about damage control and how others feel and how to make HIM change for them. Which mother will you be?

Start figuring this out now. Because if you choose to be anything other than the good mother, your son will pay the price for the rest of his life. And ultimately you will pay the price too, because he will never feel safe with you if you screw him over for the family’s sake instead of his.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I wouldn't tell him anything about his grandparents. I wouldn't even tell the grandparents that he likes anyone.
I don't tell my parents when my kids like someone. That's weird.
Just love your child...and if...in the future he really does have a boyfriend that is important to him, then you love on that kid too. Personally....I would probably have a very blunt conversation with the grandparents:" Steven likes a boy named David. I expect you to behave yourself and not say any sh!t. If you do we will not come back around to visit. Clear?"

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

The good news is we are living in a much better world today if your son is gay there are many many support systems and groups in place to help you and him navigate it.

I personally know eight gay couples and one lesbian couple that are married and living wonderful and happy lives together. Some of them have kids and some don't, only fur babies, but all of them are pretty typical in every way to me and my husband they just are two men married to each other or women.

When I was teaching high school (15 years ago) being gay well being a lesbian was very accepted among the students/peers, the gay young men were still a bit scarred to come completely out. But the students were quite accepting...I taught at an arts based school but it connected to a typical high school.

Now my son talks about gay and lesbian friends/students without any prejudice you would have seen even 10 years ago in the same situation. My 6th grade daughter was asked to go on a date by another girl who like-likes her (her words). She declined as she told her she like-likes boys but the girl is still a part of their friend group.

To most kids these days it is becoming more typical and there are student organization on campus to join to support each other or on-line communities.

If your area of the country is not accepting of the LGBTQ (sometimes I forget a letter, sorry) people/community then find a place close by to you that is, I mean you live in California couldn't be a more progressive place to live in many areas.

My gay friends tell me they knew pretty young 10, 11, 12 or earlier that they were gay. It isn't something they woke up one day and chose to be they are who they are and will love who they love. I'm sorry he isn't exactly what you were expecting but with kids you never know what personality or sexuality you are going to get...

I am sending you a great big hug. You will help him navigate through this life just as he is....as he starts middle school help him find his passion and take electives where he is likely to find other students like himself. (Then there is my relative who by all outward appearances and personal likes one would think he is gay, but is happily married to a woman and they have a wonderful child together...he is just unique, true to himself and straight.)

Keep up the love and support!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Your son sounds like an amazing kid and I wish him the best in life. Just support him and give him love and acceptance...as he gets older he may want to join LGBQT friendly clubs or support groups. As a young adult he will be hopefully have a great group of friends who support him and he will hopefully feel strong and secure in who he is. He will navigate through life's challenges. I agree with you -- it's so sad that there are people who are so unaccepting and cruel. As an adult he may decide to not speak to some family members ever again and this will be ok.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

It’s hard with all the comparing and bragging people do to not feel some
insecurities about our kids. You’re not alone in that and I’m sure in your shoes, I’d cringe at times too. Doesnt mean you don’t love him. It’s just easier to be mainstream. But he’s only 10 so by the time he’s a teen, this will all be even more accepted than today. My kids and nieces are so used to gay and transgender etc. its a nonissue to them. It’s a new era. He’ll be fine. as for family, they may surprise you. My Catholic, by the book, straight laced, in his 90’s father has become much less close minded. It’s possible a newphew is gay and years ago maybe my dad would have been critical but now he won’t be. Your family may not all be ok but those who aren’t can pound sand. Very simple. they aren’t worth it. I’m not saying they have to celebrate it but if they can’t even try to accept it, they’re not worth it. So it’ll be ok. Don’t be hard on yourself either.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

My dd's school (just started high school) has a fairly sizable LGBTQ club run by a teacher who is openly gay. They have a float at the homecoming parade and the other students don't bat an eye over it. I also teach at the college level and they have the same thing at my college (LGBTQ club run by a gay teacher). Many of the gay kids are the most popular in the class - well liked by everyone. I think other kids actually respect them more because they are so honest about who they are rather than people who try to be something they're not. It's a much more "gay-freindly" world nowadays. We just had a governor here elected who is openly gay. So the moral of the story is that he will be who he is no matter how you or your family feel about it. Life will be a lot easier for you if you let his life unfold the way it will. That's true for all parents!

1 mom found this helpful
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