Where do you start? What do you say? Should you bring props?
I’m sorry, but telling your kids that you are gay is never easy. I’ve spoken to a lot of dads through the years, and the feeling is universal. It’s one of the most terrifying moments a person can ever face.
Sometimes it’s almost impossible to face it.
I guess in a way I was lucky. When I got divorced and came out, my children were still young. Really young. There’s no way that they even understood separate households let alone separate lives let alone divorce let alone the fact that Daddy is now dating men.
They were clueless, and as it turns out so was I.
So I honestly never had to have “the talk.” My kids just grew up with their family being, well, their family. There were quirks on their mom’s side and certainly on my side too.
Being gay was just one of them.
But there was a moment when I did try.
When I did try to talk to my daughter, it was a disaster. Disaster with a capital D. I pulled out a book to help me get through it and she couldn’t relate. Nor could I, so as a result we didn’t relate to each other. The story got back to her mother and then it all blew up.
Disaster with a capital D.
After years of struggling with how to break the news, which by the way wasn’t news, I finally got some great advice from an old colleague of mine from Johnson & Johnson.
She said to “go with the flow.”
Why talk about “it” if they don’t want to talk about it. Why make it an issue when it’s not an “issue.” She said to answer their questions as they come, but not until they come.
I have to tell you, it was…liberating.
I soon followed that advice for all the tough conversations from the birds and the bees to why I got divorced to how I met Christopher, my (now) husband.
I waited for them to ask, because when they ask it’s a signal that they are ready to know. Then I only answer THE question, and then I stop.
I was even taught to add in a “do you really want to know?” just to make sure they are ready for the answer.
When they say “yes” to “do you really want to know?” it’s a massive signal that they are ready for the next level of truth. I learned to keep asking that question, and providing the answer, until the response was “no.”
“Do you really want to know?”
Words to live by.
My journey as a father with all its twists, turns, and a few twirls…all in a new book out now!