Clearly, I did something wrong!
It was apparent that I sent a message that I did not have unconditional love for her. Maybe she thought I was going to be mad at her. Is it plausible that she was too embarrassed to tell me about her first love, because she is a teenager and teenagers are embarrassed about EVERYTHING?
Or was she embarrassed to tell me about her first love because her first love is a girl?
I have many same sex couples around me as friends, family members, co-workers or acquaintances. I have homosexual friends and I thought I was very clear in my love for ALL people, not just people who I agreed with on every issue.
With that said, I am sure you can imagine my disappointment when my 14- year old goddaughter, Dasia, kept her secret from me for many months. The thing is, I am best friends with her mom, Tiffany, so I knew about her girlfriend months before she told me.
I knew about her girlfriend moments after Tiffany went through Dasia’s phone and found the text messages between her daughter and her girlfriend.
I sat on the phone with Tiffany for days trying to come up with ways to make sure Dasia knew it was okay to tell us anything. We love her!
I was elated the day Dasia finally told Tiffany. I felt like there was a weight on both Dasia and Tiffany that had been lifted. Yet…Dasia still had not told me.
After much discussion, we felt it was important that she tell me in her own time.
…….until my patience wore out and my confusion took over a few months later. I brought it up.
Me: “Dasia, do you have a girlfriend?”
Me: Do you like someone at school? Is there someone you are interested in?
Me: What is HER name?
Dasia: Nicole, I play basketball with her.
Me: Does she have a better jump shot than me?
Dasia: She is really good Aunt Talia.
Me: Is she nice to you?
Forgive my forwardness, but until this point, she had been VERY open with me on all other life issues. Four months of her silence regarding this was confusing me and killing me on the inside.
What you need to understand about my relationship with my goddaughter is that she is the first baby I have ever held. I’ve loved her from the moment she entered this planet and there is nothing that could ever stop that love. Nothing! I have the same love for her brother and sister, but she was the first and there is a special bond between us. I have been with her since her second day on Earth and I won’t be going anywhere. That is my girl!
I hope that helps to paint the picture of why I wanted her to tell me so badly and why I was so confused when she chose otherwise.
When she told Tiffany, I knew Tiffany was so happy to know her daughter was happy, but she also had fears. She was concerned with other kids at school and how they would react. We came to find out, most of the kids in her inner circle, her sports teams and in her classes already knew.
Tiffany was concerned with her daughter keeping a secret of that magnitude. As adults, we know how much a secret can weigh on a persons spirit and manifest itself physically and emotionally. She did not like her daughter holding on to the secret of her first real relationship.
Ultimately, Tiffany wanted to make sure her daughter knew her family loved her and there is nothing she could do to alter that. Even to this day, there have been other young girls who have opened up about questions they may have regarding their sexuality to Tiffany because they see how she has shown love to, and accepted, Dasia and her girlfriend.
There have been instances where young women (14/15 years old) have been kicked out of their house because they simply had questions and wanted to be open with their parents. In reaction to their attempts at openness and communication they were greeted with negativity and expulsion from the only home and family they know. I am very proud of how my best friend is parenting throughout the tough teenage years.
“LGBT adolescents have the highest rate of suicide attempts, which scientific research indicates is linked to homophobic attitudes and heterosexist discrimination.” –Study: Tolerance Can Lower Gay Kids’ Suicide Risk. Joseph Shapiro, December 2008
With all that said, it still bothers me that my goddaughter did not feel she could tell me. My next step was to open myself up to my faults and flaws to determine what message I was relaying to her.
Had said something insensitive about one of my gay friends in her presence? Did I laugh at a joke by someone on television made at the expense of a lesbian couple? When I had the opportunity to speak up on a political matter affecting same sex couples, was I silent….was that silence a very loud and clear message to my goddaughter?
To this day, I still do not know the answer. However, what I do know is that it is important to do everything you can to be a safe place for this next generation of young people. They don’t have to like what we respond with; however, I feel it is important to carry yourself in a way that is a safe place for today’s teenagers, your kids, your nieces and nephews.
If this is new to you as a mom or dad, or are a teenager looking for resources to help guide you to a healthy conversation with you parents, you should check out the following websites:
Healthy Children: For Youth
Healthy Children: For Parents
Only 26% of students who identify as LGBTQ say they always feel safe in their school classrooms. This low percentage can be easily increased through supportive families, inclusive schools and by providing streamlined resources to LGBTQ students.
The team at Best Colleges has set out to help all students feel confident in their classrooms. Ultimately, they curated a series of guides specifically catered to LGBTQ students that delve into the best programs, safety tips and useful insight into finding the right fit. Take a look here:
Student Experience Guide:
What are your thoughts? Are you aware of any messages intentional or otherwise that you are sending out that are contrary to your actual beliefs? Am I the only one?