Dear Dr. Berger: My 22-year-old son told his father and me that he is gay. I think I am fine with this, but my husband is struggling with the news. What do we say to our son, and how do I help my husband?
Tell your son you are so happy for him. Tell him that you have, and will, always love him as he is. Tell him that love is the most important thing in the world, and how he loves is important, not the gender of the person he loves. Tell him that as long as he treats others with kindness and generosity, and forms relationships with those who treat him lovingly, that you will embrace anyone he loves into the family. Ask him to talk to you about what it was like growing up gay and what it is like to be gay now. Talk to him about anything he is willing to talk about. Be curious, open-minded, and listen, listen, listen. Tell him that you will help him in any way you can. Look at him with love and admiration, and give him a big hug and a kiss. He is your son.
Now, as far as your husband is concerned, he needs a hug and a kiss, too. No matter our beliefs, no matter how we want to react, it is very normal to have conflicting feelings when receiving this kind of news. Encourage your husband to get support. Go the website, www.bidstrup.com/parents. That is a place to start to get the resources you both need to be great parents with a gay child. Just seeing that other people feel all the things you and your husband feel will begin the process of making him feel better. Learn everything you can, and encourage your husband to talk with you, or to someone who is an expert in these matters. Dad has some growing to do, and we can do that at any age. Your son showed great courage in talking to you. Tell your husband that there is no greater act of courage than for a man to ask for help.
It sounds like your son trusts you and your husband a great deal. Congratulations.