A mother was heartbroken to discover her teenage son was looking up information about acceptance for being gay.
Redditor "skeletennineeight" discussed with her husband that she wanted to have a heart-to-heart discussion with their son.
But he had a different approach in dealing with their closeted son. To avoid the appearance of meddling, the husband suggested their son to initiate the conversation.
The Original Poster (OP) asked WIBTA (Would I Be the A**hole) if she had the conversation with or without her husband.
"I know the title is confusing, but I'll explain. My son is 14M."
"He was reading something on the family computer and when he went to the bathroom I looked at what he was doing."
"He was on a pdf of a brochure from the 90s for teens that think they're gay."
"I clicked the back arrow and apparently he'd searched before that 'will people still love me if I'm gay?.'"
The OP was not prepared—as are most parents with children developing and questioning their sexual identity—and was mortified for thinking she and her husband appeared unapproachable.
"My heart broke. We'd never specifically talked about that, but I didn't think I'd ever given off that impression. I immediately went to talk to my husband about this."
"I told him that we needed to talk to our son, because he was clearly hurting."
But the husband was not on board with her instincts.
"My husband reacted differently than I expected. He said that we should let him come to us, because he'd think we were snooping in his life if we went to him."
"I understood his point, but I felt like we needed to tell our son that we love him no matter what."
"I told my husband that I was going to talk to our son, with or without him. But now I'm doubtful."
"I'm afraid my son will slip away from us if we come on too strong. Should I listen to my husband?"
"WIBTA if I talked to him?"
Redditors weighed in to declare if the OP was any of the following.
- NTA - Not The A**hole
- YTA - You're The A**hole
- ESH - Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH - No A**holes Here
"NAH. Maybe drop some hints. Watch something on tv, talk positively about LGBTQ issues and culture."
"Give him an environment that feels safe and positive so he knows it's okay."
"You know your son. If you think he wouldn't be embarrassed if you approached him before he's ready, that's fine."
"But maybe your husband is picking up that he might not want a direct conversation just yet. Feel the situation out a little first." – 42DaisyPusher
Redditors had Netflix and LGBTQ literature suggestions to provide an opportunity for a conversation.
"Yeah, watch some shows with LGBTQ+ content on Netflix or something - depending on how much you want to expose your kid to this, sex education has some really good representation. But it's got some sexual content, so that's that."
"I heard Everything Sucks is also good, but I couldn't get into it at all."
"You can also watch less age appropriate shows with your partner (I love sense8) and talk about what happened in the episodes in front of him."
"Stuff like 'Oh no, dude broke up with his boyfriend. It's such a shame, they were so good together. It really sucks they had to hide their relationship, it's 2020 and people should know better than to be bigoted a**holes.'"
"Read some gay books in front of him."
"'Dante and Aristotle discover the secrets of the universe' is incredibly cheesy and romantic and I LOVE it."
"If you read it, you can rave about it and tell him to read it too, 'Since you're at home anyway and don't have school, might as well read a book instead of looking at a screen. I just read this, it's good, and don't you dare complain about the genre.'"
"Integrate it into normal mum stuff and everyday small talk."
"I'm always super glad to see parents like you on here, it's such a gift you want to make sure your son feels loved and accepted! Stay just as wonderful as you are." – CoffeeBeanx3
"There's also the Netflix documentary 'A Secret Love,' it's a really moving documentary about a lesbian couple who kept their relationship secret until they were in their eighties."
"I'm not sure if it's the sort of thing a teenage boy would want to watch, but it has a lot of discussion points like the reaction of the family, and the change in LGBTQ rights over the years."
"Honestly, to anyone reading this, I highly recommend it. I think I cried for about two hours after I watched it lol" – DoubtfulChilli
"Watch Love, Simon as a family! It's based off the book Simon vs the homo-sapiens agenda by Becky Albertalli."
"The coming out scene is hard, because Simon is outed against his will at school, but the conversations his parents have with him about it are amazing."
"Two of the best representations of supportive parents I've ever seen in any media, not just queer media. It's a fairly recent film (came out in 2018) and it has a spin-off show dropping on Hulu next month called Love, Victor." – TheMillennialDiaries
This person suggested the OP not force a conversation, but can subtly mention she would love her son no matter what.
"A good line to use as well, if you can get it into the conversation organically, is 'I don't expect you to tell me everything, but you I hope you know that I only ever want you to be happy. There's nothing in the world you could say that could make me love you less.'"
"If he's working his way up to telling you, he's probably scared of rejection, and rushing him is only going to make him want to hide away."
"It's not a reflection on you as a parent, it is something he has to come to terms with himself first. Just have patience and be kind, reassure him at every turn that you love him and show tolerance to other people."
"He will still probably be scared to tell you."
"I had a friend whose parents were the most tolerant and kind people I knew. When he came out they turned on him."
"Apparently, that life was fine for other people but not their son. He's probably heard stories like that."
"While you know you would still love him, the worry of it might still be making him irrational. It's not a reflection on you, it's a reflection of the world we live in. I think it's important for you to remember that too." – hippo20191
A gay Redditor agreed with the husband's approach of the son initiating the conversation if and when he is ready as he may still be ambivalent about his sexuality.
"IMO it isn't just about 'being embarrassed,' there are many layers surrounding it."
"From what the son was searching it seems to me that he is still coming to terms with his own sexuality, and OP might make things much harder if she were to actively talk to her son about it."
"He might become defensive and aggressive, he might think that he is not as 'straight passing' as he might think, he might just not be ready for it and the whole think might make him come to assumptions about his own sexuality that are not, in fact, true (such as being bi but, because he was told he was gay by everyone else, think that he is gay and take that as what he likes)."
"With matters of sexuality you should ALWAYS let the person come out to you, do everything else that you said regarding having a welcoming and positive environment, but let the person develop and understand their feelings on their own."
"Personally, as a gay man, I think OP WBTA if she talked to her kid instead of letting him talk to her, I also think its TA move to do something regarding parenting that her husband does not agree with."
Most agreed the OP shouldn't scare him further into the closet.
"NAH but don't make it too obvious that you're suspicious."
"I didn't date in high school (still really haven't), and my mom did passively bring up that she would support me no matter what. I'm not gay, but I know she wouldn't care if I was."
"I've always known my parents were liberal and accepting, and I've had many open LGBT friends for years. Does your son know this? Is there a way to tell him without explicitly confronting him?" – discodolphin1
"NAH but as everyone else is saying, create a positive environment."
"Watch movies (would recommend Love Simon or The Half of It), talk about prominent LGBTQ+ figures you support, mention having other gay people in your life who you love/like."
"Also, a big one for me was that when talking about the future, my parents always used the term partner instead of just husband. Definitely took the pressure of for their expectations for me! Best of luck to your family." – Entire_Height
"Don't go talk to him about 'I saw you searched gay stuff, if you are I still love you,' your husband is right, that won't be good for the relationship between you, it looks like you were disrespecting his privacy."
"What you can do is, however, to sneak the topic into your daily life in a few days or weeks."
"Watch a movie where as a minor part, not central theme a character mentions their parents were not okay with their orientation and comment on how ridiculous it is that it would matter to parents and affect their love."
"Talk about family friends with your husband, or gossip on the phone, let him hear your opinion but not directed at him."
"If it's something you would normally do, just walk up to him randomly, hug him, tell him you don't want him to ever come out just bring home a partner of whatever gender that makes them happy, and tell him you saw that shared on Facebook and you were moved (dig up a post about it, share it)."
"Just pick an option that doesn't seem out of the ordinary in your life." – hugepurplehippo
"NAH. But, your husband's right, and, really, don't ask him that. He'll know that you saw his researches and will be very insecure and may not trust you anymore."
"As someone who experienced a situation very similar, I think this may lead him to think that you dragged him out of the closet and invaded hs privacy. Please, don't do that."
"He will know when he's ready to tell this, in his own time."
"Until then, be pacient and let him know, in a subtle way, that you would support him, no matter what. Make clear your support for the LGBTQ+ community and listen to him whenever he talks to you about this topic and/or corrects you." – justalinkye
Their process may conflict, but the positive reality is that the son has supportive parents who care enough to consider his feelings with their respective tactics.
*If you enjoyed this article, you can read more like it by clicking on the WIBTA link below.*
The book The Pride Guide: A Guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth is available for pre-order here.