Need advice explaining homosexual relationship to a child diplomatically


#1

This past weekend was gay pride week and my husband (or ex husband since we are divorced now) came out of the closet, finally and publicly. I knew as his wife, and figured it was why he left me, but he was never public about it.

Anyway, he introduced me to his boyfriend and he seems like a nice man. He's very feminine and likes to do art projects with my daughter on weekends with her dad (they made me a nice picture frame together).

Until this weekend, my daughter (who is seven-years-old) never knew about her dad... and she really has no idea what homosexuality is either. She figured daddy's boyfriend was just a friend... not a lover. She doesn't even know sexuality in general. Anyway, when she was with her dad this weekend (with his boyfriend) they did some kissing and public displays of affection. I picked her up from school and she told me about it and how it made her uncomfortable. She is asking me questions now and I am not sure what to say. I thought I would know what to say, but it doesn't make sense to her.

So here is my dilemma. I am Catholic and am raising her as Catholic. I need to explain to her what homosexuality is, but not in a way to demonize or make her father seem bad. We have shared custody and he is a good father. Any suggestions on how to approach this? Are there any resources? Maybe I should schedule a meeting with my priest for some guidance? I thought to leave it to her dad to explain, but I think I would like to explain it as well.

Thanks!


#2

I think you need to approach it with her father, not her. He needs to lay off PDA with this man. it is confusing and frightening to your daughter.

I lived in the same apartment quad with two gay guys, one of whom had been previously married with children. They had a 2 bedroom apartment and they did NOT display any "coupleness" in front of his children when he had the kids for the weekend.


#3

[quote="1ke, post:2, topic:287637"]
I think you need to approach it with her father, not her. He needs to lay off PDA with this man. it is confusing and frightening to your daughter.

I lived in the same apartment quad with two gay guys, one of whom had been previously married with children. They had a 2 bedroom apartment and they did NOT display any "coupleness" in front of his children when he had the kids for the weekend.

[/quote]

I think you would find very few couples, gay or otherwise who would be willing to hide their romantic relationship from their children.


#4

[quote="mellowcalico, post:1, topic:287637"]
...Maybe I should schedule a meeting with my priest for some guidance? I thought to leave it to her dad to explain, but I think I would like to explain it as well....

[/quote]

Think of this as one of many talks about this issue over the years. Plan that you will need to gradually disclose to your daughter what she'll eventually need to appreciate, and expect that over the years the topic will need to be re-visited no matter how well it is explained on earlier attempts. Don't put too much pressure on yourself to get it all right the first time. If you explain it poorly or incompletely, you can amend how you choose to explain it at a future date. This is not something that will be solved in one perfect visitation of wise words.

Besides that, consider that your ex-husband now expects to be treated just the same as if his new lover were female. Would you expect yourself to pretend it was OK for him to leave you for another woman? No. Would you expect him to portray his actions as totally OK, if not the inevitable result of "who he is and how life worked out"? Let's face it, that is the way to bet. You can see that not wanting to make a demon out of him is miles away from wanting to pretend he's not done anything wrong. He's doing what he's doing, it is not right, but he thinks it is. The best you can do is to treat him as if he had a case of invincible ignorance. (From the prospective of the Judgement Seat, maybe he does; that is not ours to say.)

OK, that is the court you have to play on--that is, on the court of common concepts of what are good manners and what is good parenting--so start there. Your daughter is not comfortable watching her father kiss someone other than her mother. You can talk to him about the issue in those terms: that is, that it would be better for her if he not be open about his affection to someone else, especially for the time being, just as you expect your daughter is not going to want to see you kissing some other man. Tell him you think you both ought to respect her feelings about this. After all, many adults do not like to witness anybody's public displays of affection...and when she has her own future partner all over her at some future Thanksgiving, you'll be on stable ground to tell her to save it for another place other than Grandma's house.

The day is going to come when you're going to have to broach the subject that what your husband is doing is objectively wrong. You're also going to need to teach your daughter about the very real difficulty faced by those who have intense romantic attractions for persons with whom they may not morally have a sexual relationship. It is not about making people out to be bad people; rather, it is about the very real moral boundaries that even very good people have to live within, and having compassion about the temptations faced by others and how they handle them.

But one day at a time. You ought not tell your daughter you did so, but do tell your husband you are giving him the chance to show his daughter's feelings respect on his own initiative. If your daughter reports that he is doing it again, then you'll have no choice but to teach her how to gently and yet firmly advocate for her own feelings and her own personal boundaries, even to people who choose to ignore her requests.


#5

You need to discuss this with your ex. Tell him your daughter saw them kissing, it made her uncomfortable, and she's asking questions about things that I would not want to explain to a 7 yr. old about her dad.

Ask him, nicely, that for the sake of your daughter, no displays of afffection. Are they sleeping together when she's there?


#6

[quote="BlueEyedLady, post:3, topic:287637"]
I think you would find very few couples, gay or otherwise who would be willing to hide their romantic relationship from their children.

[/quote]

Yes, very sad that they do not put their children first.


#7

Thanks... I do intend to bring it up with him/let him know. But I can't undo what she's already seen. And I swear that child has the memory of an elephant (so to speak). The best I could come up with is that her dad and his friend love each other (but I didn't go into things too much and changed the subject--in other words I didn't indicate romantic love or anything). But I know she will bring it up again--that's what I need to be ready for.

They do share a bedroom when his boyfriend is over from what I understand. My daughter calls it "sleep overs" and I think thinks of it like when she has a little friend sleep over our place. Not in a romantic notion. I know this because she complained to me that she was scared one night during a storm, but knows she is forbidden to go into daddy's room at night. So while it's not as much as I would like, he is using some discretion.


#8

[quote="mellowcalico, post:1, topic:287637"]
This past weekend was gay pride week and my husband (or ex husband since we are divorced now) came out of the closet, finally and publicly. I knew as his wife, and figured it was why he left me, but he was never public about it.

Anyway, he introduced me to his boyfriend and he seems like a nice man. He's very feminine and likes to do art projects with my daughter on weekends with her dad (they made me a nice picture frame together).

Until this weekend, my daughter (who is seven-years-old) never knew about her dad... and she really has no idea what homosexuality is either. She figured daddy's boyfriend was just a friend... not a lover. She doesn't even know sexuality in general. Anyway, when she was with her dad this weekend (with his boyfriend) they did some kissing and public displays of affection. I picked her up from school and she told me about it and how it made her uncomfortable. She is asking me questions now and I am not sure what to say. I thought I would know what to say, but it doesn't make sense to her.

So here is my dilemma. I am Catholic and am raising her as Catholic. I need to explain to her what homosexuality is, but not in a way to demonize or make her father seem bad. We have shared custody and he is a good father. Any suggestions on how to approach this? Are there any resources? Maybe I should schedule a meeting with my priest for some guidance? I thought to leave it to her dad to explain, but I think I would like to explain it as well.

Thanks!

[/quote]

Oh I am so sorry! Your ex should not be doing this to your daughter. For a 7 year old to have to learn about homosexuality...And that her FATHER is one...Well, this is just going to be very difficult for her to process. There's going to be a lot of heartache ahead, no matter what else happens. There's no great solution, unfortunately. But you will be in my prayers.

I think her Dad should cut out the making out with the BF in front of her. It's indecent. And yes, I'd say the same if he were shacking up with some woman too.


#9

Thanks again... I guess my dilemma is, while I can ask him to stop the PDA, he most likely won't. Obviously he and I aren't on the same wavelength morally, so I will never be able to argue the moral ground.

Remember, in the eyes of the state, we are divorced. So him kissing a man (or woman) is not legally wrong (think adultery laws)... Legally he can even remarry if he wanted to (gay marriage isn't legal where I am, but I am using that as an example).

I can ask and hope he agrees, but I don't think he will. So I have to deal with reality as it is and the best way I can--if that makes any sense. I didn't want to have to explain this to her this early in life (I am not even ready to talk to her about the birds and the bees--other than "bad" touching).


#10

It sounds like you need to sit down with her dad and try to get on the same page with things or else she might just get more and more confused. It's sweet that she and her dad do art projects together. Don't try to approach it from the angle of homosexuality being wrong, but rather let him know that you just want to find the best way to begin explaining things to your daughter. I'm sure that you both have her best interests at heart, so this shouldn't be a problem.


#11

I'm so sorry you are facing this. :(

I tend to err on the side of more information, because I would worry that without it, she would gradually absorb the understanding that her father's behavior is normal. And then when she's older and has already accepted it (and possibly figured the other details out before you could tell her), it might be harder to convince her that your perspective is correct.

My explanation to a 7yo would be something like, "You know how many children have a mommy and a daddy who live together and who love each other? Well sometimes people who are not married want to act like they are married. It's not right to do that, because God made men and women to get married to each other (let child respond about how much sense that makes), but as you know, sometimes people do things they shouldn't. (you can talk about wrong choices that even children make, and say that sometimes adults make very big wrong choices) Well every now and then, a man will want to act like he is married to another man instead of another woman. That's wrong too - because God made men to marry women, not other men. (let child respond about how much sense it makes, given that babies come from mommies) Daddies should be married to mommies. But sometimes people's thinking doesn't work quite right, and they get mixed up. Daddy is one of those people. For some reason, he wants to act like he is married to this other man. I am sad for Daddy because I know that it's not good for him to want to act like he is married to another man. But I think that his thinking is mixed up, and I hope that someday his thinking will get un-mixed up. You can pray for his thinking to get un-mixed up someday too, but you don't have to worry about it. Even though he's your daddy, he's still a person, and sometimes people make wrong choices."


#12

[quote="mellowcalico, post:7, topic:287637"]
Thanks... I do intend to bring it up with him/let him know. But I can't undo what she's already seen. And I swear that child has the memory of an elephant (so to speak). The best I could come up with is that her dad and his friend love each other (but I didn't go into things too much and changed the subject--in other words I didn't indicate romantic love or anything). But I know she will bring it up again--that's what I need to be ready for.

They do share a bedroom when his boyfriend is over from what I understand. My daughter calls it "sleep overs" and I think thinks of it like when she has a little friend sleep over our place. Not in a romantic notion. I know this because she complained to me that she was scared one night during a storm, but knows she is forbidden to go into daddy's room at night. So while it's not as much as I would like, he is using some discretion.

[/quote]

I think this needs to be discussed too. Your daughter knows they're both in the room, obviously in the same bed, and NOW is accepting that it is a "sleep over". And if she mentions this to some kid, wiser and older, what do you think she'll be told? How is she going to feel about Daddy then?

Daddy is homosexual and lives with a man. Fine. He's also a Dad. He needs to protect his 7 yr. old from snide remarks. He also needs to protect his relationship with his child.

And I have a problem with a kid not being free to run into Dad's room. It is on her not to see something she shouldn't see. No, it is on him.

I suggest he get twin beds for the guest room and sleep in her room when she's over.


#13

[quote="ThyKingdomCome, post:11, topic:287637"]
I'm so sorry you are facing this. :(

I tend to err on the side of more information, because I would worry that without it, she would gradually absorb the understanding that her father's behavior is normal. And then when she's older and has already accepted it (and possibly figured the other details out before you could tell her), it might be harder to convince her that your perspective is correct.

My explanation to a 7yo would be something like, "You know how many children have a mommy and a daddy who live together and who love each other? Well sometimes people who are not married want to act like they are married. It's not right to do that, because God made men and women to get married to each other (let child respond about how much sense that makes), but as you know, sometimes people do things they shouldn't. (you can talk about wrong choices that even children make, and say that sometimes adults make very big wrong choices) Well every now and then, a man will want to act like he is married to another man instead of another woman. That's wrong too - because God made men to marry women, not other men. (let child respond about how much sense it makes, given that babies come from mommies) Daddies should be married to mommies. But sometimes people's thinking doesn't work quite right, and they get mixed up. Daddy is one of those people. For some reason, he wants to act like he is married to this other man. I am sad for Daddy because I know that it's not good for him to want to act like he is married to another man. But I think that his thinking is mixed up, and I hope that someday his thinking will get un-mixed up. You can pray for his thinking to get un-mixed up someday too, but you don't have to worry about it. Even though he's your daddy, he's still a person, and sometimes people make wrong choices."

[/quote]

This is correct. Over time, she will accept it, and probably start to defend the aberrant behavior. This is, after all, her DADDY whom she loves! If Daddy is doing it, how can it be so wrong? If people say mean things, THEY are wrong, not Daddy!

You are in a most difficult situation. You have to address it, and any way you do it, it's not going to be an easy thing to do. And your husband could get upset, angry, etc. But keep reinforcing that you love him, she loves him, but what he is doing is not right.


#14

This is so tragic.
What he is doing is child abuse.
I'd like to say that you should go to Court and demand sole guardianship of your daughter, but the topsy turvy way the courst have become in most western countries, it would have no effect and might even backfire with you being punished for your supposed "homophobia" and your daughter taken from you.

Unfortunately therer seems no other good solution but to disobey the court orders and not let your daughter be in the company of your husband except when you are present and any "friend" is absent.

This type of situation unfortunatrely looks like it will become more common in the near future. Christians will have to choose between practising their religion and protecting their families, or obeying the civil law.


#15

[quote="Petergee, post:14, topic:287637"]
This is so tragic.
What he is doing is child abuse.
I'd like to say that you should go to Court and demand sole guardianship of your daughter, but the topsy turvy way the courst have become in most western countries, it would have no effect and might even backfire with you being punished for your supposed "homophobia" and your daughter taken from you.

Unfortunately therer seems no other good solution but to disobey the court orders and not let your daughter be in the company of your husband except when you are present and any "friend" is absent.

This type of situation unfortunatrely looks like it will become more common in the near future. Christians will have to choose between practising their religion and protecting their families, or obeying the civil law.

[/quote]

She dosobeys the court order he will be given full custody.


#16

Yeah, I can't disobey a court order... and while I don't agree with how he's living, I don't think it's good to take a child away from her father.

I take the stance that while I think what he's doing is wrong and is a sin, I am not perfect either--I sin too. Being his judge (especially in front of our daughter) will end up putting her in the middle and hurting her. He will still be gay, she will know it, and on top of that her mother will be adding conflict to it. My goal is to explain things so she has an understanding of it... without it being too sexual. That's the hard part--explaining same sex attraction while leaving out the sex and without lying (they aren't like "good friends" or "like how her dad loves his brother" for example).

Right now it's not even a matter of faith, sin, etc. She's confused and as a kid, she needs an explanation (and will keep asking me about it). I would like to touch on our faith in an explanation--but only lightly so that it doesn't come across in a way that might damage the father/child relationship (or the mother/child... because, while she is much closer to me, if she sees it as "attacking" daddy, it could backfire).

I like the explanation given by ThyKingdomCome... I might use a variation of that. The hard part is I don't want to say that it's wrong completely for a mom or dad to have a relationship post divorce. Right now I am not in a relationship myself, but I am seeking annulment. If it's granted, I would like to date and meet someone again. Telling her that any post relationship is wrong will confuse her more in the future if I get to that point. I don't think she will "get" the concept that it's wrong before an annulment and okay afterwards. Maybe in a few years she will get that, but right now it's a hard concept.

She brought the subject up again this morning. She told me she doesn't want to see her dad this weekend because it's "too weird." I didn't get a chance to talk to him last night (he's hard to reach when he doesn't have our daughter). But I will try again. I am not going to tell him how to live, but I will tell him what he's doing is upsetting our daughter to the point where she's telling me she doesn't even want to see him. I am sure he doesn't want that, so maybe that will convince him to tone things down and not go "so fast" in front of her.


#17

[quote="BlueEyedLady, post:15, topic:287637"]
She dosobeys the court order he will be given full custody.

[/quote]

Are you an attorney?

I have a person close to me whose children see their father in a neutral setting because he has a girlfriend, and exposed the children to her and his sexual relationship with her. So now the kids don't go to his home.

It could be a possibility for the OP to get this type of arrangement, She won't know unless she speaks to an attorney.:shrug:


#18

There is a difference between speaking to an attorney and just violating the order. Failing to give up the child for visitation/time with the other custodial parent even counts as kidnapping in some jurisdictions.


#19

[quote="mellowcalico, post:16, topic:287637"]
Yeah, I can't disobey a court order... and while I don't agree with how he's living, I don't think it's good to take a child away from her father.

I take the stance that while I think what he's doing is wrong and is a sin, I am not perfect either--I sin too. Being his judge (especially in front of our daughter) will end up putting her in the middle and hurting her. He will still be gay, she will know it, and on top of that her mother will be adding conflict to it. My goal is to explain things so she has an understanding of it... without it being too sexual. That's the hard part--explaining same sex attraction while leaving out the sex and without lying (they aren't like "good friends" or "like how her dad loves his brother" for example).

Right now it's not even a matter of faith, sin, etc. She's confused and as a kid, she needs an explanation (and will keep asking me about it). I would like to touch on our faith in an explanation--but only lightly so that it doesn't come across in a way that might damage the father/child relationship (or the mother/child... because, while she is much closer to me, if she sees it as "attacking" daddy, it could backfire).

I like the explanation given by ThyKingdomCome... I might use a variation of that. The hard part is I don't want to say that it's wrong completely for a mom or dad to have a relationship post divorce. Right now I am not in a relationship myself, but I am seeking annulment. If it's granted, I would like to date and meet someone again. Telling her that any post relationship is wrong will confuse her more in the future if I get to that point. I don't think she will "get" the concept that it's wrong before an annulment and okay afterwards. Maybe in a few years she will get that, but right now it's a hard concept.

She brought the subject up again this morning. She told me she doesn't want to see her dad this weekend because it's "too weird." I didn't get a chance to talk to him last night (he's hard to reach when he doesn't have our daughter). But I will try again. I am not going to tell him how to live, but I will tell him what he's doing is upsetting our daughter to the point where she's telling me she doesn't even want to see him. I am sure he doesn't want that, so maybe that will convince him to tone things down and not go "so fast" in front of her.

[/quote]

Unfortunately, with the current climate in regard to homosexuality, your husband and his lover could decide to convince your daughter that being gay is not "weird" at all, but normal and right, and that the Church is wrong. In fact, given the coming out, I would say that is likely. Expect a lot of confusion and conflict on your daughter's part. The trouble has only just begun. Gay men are not known to be selfless when it comes to their own desires. And don't flame me, folks, I have experience in this.

And BTW, I would say that your annulment is pretty well guaranteed. Your husband's SSA had to be there before you were ever married - he didn't just wake up one day and decide "I'm going to be gay now."


#20

[quote="mellowcalico, post:16, topic:287637"]
The hard part is I don't want to say that it's wrong completely for a mom or dad to have a relationship post divorce. Right now I am not in a relationship myself, but I am seeking annulment. If it's granted, I would like to date and meet someone again. Telling her that any post relationship is wrong will confuse her more in the future if I get to that point. I don't think she will "get" the concept that it's wrong before an annulment and okay afterwards. Maybe in a few years she will get that, but right now it's a hard concept.

[/quote]

I understand your concern. That's why I used the term "act like they are married." I wouldn't get into annulments with her until you need to (but in another year or so, she will be able to understand the concept behind an annulment if you explain it very simply). I don't think that my words would confuse that though. Because dating is not the same as acting like you are married. You can even talk to her about those things...sleeping over is something married people do, and something you shouldn't be doing with a future boyfriend. PDA is something that dating people shouldn't do either, particularly in front of their children. So if the time comes that you are dating, she will simply see you spending time and getting to know the man, and will be able to understand the difference between figuring out if you should get married, and pretending to be married. At that point, you can also point out that because men can't ever truly marry other men (even if they THINK they are married because a judge said they were, God knows better.....), it isn't right for them to date either, since dating is all about deciding whether or not to get married.

I will pray that your ex listens to reason and lets your dd stay innocent a little while longer.


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