Having children has always been very important to me, and I have been blessed to have a son and two daughters. I worry how coming out might impact my relationship with them. How did your coming out affect your relationship with your kids? If you had come out as a younger man, would you have still wanted to be a father?
Being a father was one of my highest priorities. I lost my father when I was three years old and I had promised myself to be the best father I could possibly be. A large part of what delayed my coming out was a fear that I was abandoning my relationship with my children and breaking a vow I’d made to my wife.
I am sure that had I come out as a younger man I would still have wanted a family. When I was young, the option for gay men to have a family didn’t exist. I am pleased that young gay women and men today have several options for experiencing the joys of being fathers and mothers.
Some have said to me, “Don’t you regret coming out so late? Look at all the fun you missed.” I am very grateful for the experience of having children, and I have no regrets because nothing in life has been more fun than being a father and it remains one of the greatest joys in my life.
My relationship with my children and my former wife now is very good although we certainly went through some struggles. At the time of my divorce, my children were 12 and 15 years old, a difficult time for any adolescent, and the divorce made it even more difficult for them. We lived in a conservative community where hardly anyone was out about their sexuality. Although other kids had divorced parents, none of their peers had experienced having a parent coming out as gay.
It wasn’t the life any of us had planned. It is important to remember that the person coming out has likely struggled with the decision for quite some time, but after coming out, family members are thrust into dealing with new information. It takes some time for them to work through that.
Now my husband/partner has been a part of our lives for nearly thirty years. They all love him very much and he loves them, and he and my former wife have become friends. It has worked out much better than I expected, but it takes some work in building those relationships.
In many cultures and geographic locations, great resistance exists to anything but the traditional family. Many other-sex families are blended families, too, and they face most of the same issues faced by same-sex parents. Kids raised in families with same-sex parents do just as well as those in traditional families. Just being opposite-sex parents does not automatically make parents good parents as some would have us believe. Good parenting is about far more than the gender of the parents.
Previously published on Loren Olson
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