Letting The Parents In

I finally got up the courage to let my parents in on the new developments in my life.  Through a series of emails and phone calls, I was able to share the following:

  1. I am gay
  2. I don’t plan on living a celibate life
  3. I am taking a break from the church
  4. I value my relationship with them and hope that this will make us closer

In their responses, they made sure the following was clear:

  1. They love me
  2. I will always be a part of the family
  3. They fear that the happiness I am looking for won’t be there in the end
  4. They can’t condone my choice to pursue companionship as it goes against their testimony of the gospel and the words of the prophets and apostles

Those last two really stung, even though I wasn’t surprised. I told them that it hurts that they would want me to be alone for the rest of my life when they didn’t have to do the same.  It hurts that my happiness won’t make them happy.

A few friends have asked me how their response makes me feel.  In all honesty, I feel that a large part of our parent-child relationship has been lost.  For the first time in my life my parents made a point to put their own interests above mine.  I’m sure they’ve done it plenty of times before, I just didn’t really notice because it wasn’t that big of a deal.

As a child, you don’t realize all the sacrifices your parents make for you.  Once I was in college and on my mission, I developed a deep sense of gratitude for them as I realized all that they had done for me.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that they sacrificed even more for the church, and their relationship (especially my dad’s) with my siblings and me were part of that sacrifice.  However, I now see them as normal human beings, who make choices in their best self interest, instead of the parents that would do anything for me. Selfish me still wants my parents, even though I am in my thirties and live completely independent of them.

I now have parents who seem too afraid to say that they want me to be happy, as if they would be betraying God and the church in the process.  I still want them in my life, I just have to lower my expectations of what it means to be my parent.  I think our parent-child relationship has run its course.  It’s almost like we are now all adult siblings.  We have that family bond that will always keep us together, but as adults, we all have to do what is best for our own families that we are trying to build.  It’s weird to feel like I lost my parents, but that is my reality for now.

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4 responses to “Letting The Parents In

  1. I have been where you are and understand what you are feeling but please give your parents some time. If it took you years to get to the point where you could come out, then reasonable to give them time to educate themselves and get used to the idea. If my very active and devout super Mormon mother could get to the point where she truly celebrated my same-sex wedding and has welcomed my husband into the family with open arms, then there is hope for anyone. Your parents just might surprise you further down the road when they see how happy you are with your life partner.

  2. Kudos to you on sharing the info with your parents. And respect to them for Response #1 and 2! I hope as time passes they’ll flip on 3 and 4.

    I’ve enjoyed reading your story and experiences. Keep it up. Us 30-somethings gotta stick together. 🙂

  3. Congrats, as well, for sharing these things with your parents. If I can share something I came to realize. I learned a while ago, that though what my parents say or feel towards my own choices are hurtful and make me feel alone at times, they do so only out of the love.

    From everything my parents know, understand and believe, what they are doing, is for my eternal happiness, they do it because they love me. Their understanding is not mine, and that vast divide does cause hurt. I need to remind myself they are acting from a place of love, because of what they believe. It does not excuse behavior or lack of acceptance, but from their knowledge and heart they are doing what they feel is the best for you. They are loving you. Even though it feels far from what we expect love to look and feel like.

    It’s hard, and sometimes I hurt because of my parents lack of acceptance, but I try to remember, it’s their way of loving me. Because, like your parents #1 and #2, they do love you.

  4. My parents reacted in much the same way. Sometimes I am frustrated and wish they could be more supportive of me. Specifically supportive, not just “we love you and won’t disown you.” I wish they could understand just how much the church hurts gay people. At the same time, I also understand the church is basically their entire life, and leaving it would destroy their social lives in a very difficult way.

    I think most parents come around when they see what a good happy relationship can do for you. I haven’t made it to that point yet, but that’s the theory!

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