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I am 19 years old, and my parents have been divorced for 4 years now. I knew my mom would probably start dating again eventually, which was weird enough for me to think about, but now she just told me a few days ago that she thinks she is a lesbian and wants to date women. This is so weird to me and I have no idea how to take this in! I don’t know what to feel and I don’t know what to say to her right now, it’s freaking me out. I’m not a homophobe, but I seriously can’t picture MY MOM as a lesbian.
-Katie

Dear Katie,

Let me start by saying, your feelings are completely normal. For your whole life, this woman has been, above all else, your mother. When you think of your mom dating (let alone dating women) it can be shocking. Instead of thinking of her as your mom, try imagining her as just a normal, random person. Think about her growing up in her parents’ house, going to school, graduating, getting jobs and earning money, falling in love and getting married, and of course, getting pregnant with you. “Mom” is just one of the many roles your mother has had during her life (albeit, perhaps the most important one to her). She is a person with many facets, a whole and complex human being who makes mistakes, has hopes and dreams, experiences love and loss, success and failure, faces fear and uncertainty, has insecurities and flaws. It was probably very difficult and scary for your mom to come out to you. It takes a lot of courage for anyone to do so. It’s normal for children to see parents as sort of superheroes who take care of us and don’t need any help themselves. The reality is, they are not bulletproof, they get scared, they get lonely, they sometimes doubt themselves, and they need to be loved just as much as we do. Try to be honest with your mom about how you’re feeling, but also try to remember that she is in a very vulnerable place right now and your support could mean the world to her.

Be gentle with yourself and allow yourself some time to adjust. As time goes by, you may realize that this doesn’t really change things as much as you thought it would.

I encourage you to talk to someone you trust. There is a great resource for kids of parents who are LGBTQ called Colage (www.colage.org). You can also connect with PFLAG at www.pflag.org.  And, of course, we’ll be here too if you want to reach out again!

Respectfully yours,

Ally