• When your predecessor, is gay - how do you know his children?

  • My Virtual Assistant was married to a gay man. Their marriage was fraught with turmoil and they had two wonderful sons. When they decided to divorce, the boys were ages four years old and six months old. Needless to say, this was a bit too young to discuss their father's sexuality. It was somewhat funny (in a very stretched way) how they eventually learned about their father's sexuality.

    The children were raised to be very conversant in the vernacular of their days with the permission of their mother. And they were both very bright young boys, so when they joking called their father "faggot" as they did innocently with their school chums, he came to their mother and asked if she'd told them? She was flabbergasted at what had happened, told him "no," and as the boys were then in the fourth and first grades respectively, she decided to share the information about their dad and put a stop to the name-calling among their friends as well.

    She asked them if they knew what faggot meant and they said "No, but all the boys call one another that." So she explained what it meant, how it was derogatory and then, taking a deep breath, she told them why she and their daddy had divorced. There was a deep-thinking silence after she told her story and then many questions began to pour forth. She tried her best to answer them without any kind of blame, but with the focus of putting their minds at ease.

    They wanted to know if it is hereditary? Will I catch it from him if I hug him? What if the kids at school find out? She answered all of their questions one at a time until there just weren't any more left. Her sons have grown up to be upstanding adults, and it never seemed to be a problem for them since they'd been told at such an early age.When your predecessor, is gay - how do you know his children?

    Children are so resilient. They can encompass any idea that is presented with a sense of loving support. They need stability to grow up. They want their parents love and caring. My VA said that she never heard her sons make a derogatory remark about their father's sexuality after that initial discussion. She felt that creating a supportive setting to share that news, answering all their questions, and the fact that nothing got hidden from them fostered trust between the three of them.

    This challenge is really "an elephant in the room." You should address the issue as soon as it seems possible to discuss with your children. If they have questions, answer them. Create scenarios as examples to find out how they'd handle it; e.g., if kids at school find out and tease them, what should they do?

    I can see no good reason to hide this kind of information from your children. You'd be modeling "hide stuff from me because I hide stuff from you" and you don't want that, do you? There are many kids who become aware with their keen powers of observation long before you decide they should know. You are risking the dissolving of trust between you if you don't tell them the truth as quickly as you think they can understand it. Divorce is hard enough without losing their trust. Use your own best intuition, but do tell them. You'll have the wisdom to dole out only the level of detail you know they can handle and as they mature and look back on the event, they'll appreciate you for telling the early on that their dad was gay.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    In his book "Getting Over It: Wisdom for Divorced Parents," Len Stauffenger shares his simple wisdom gleaned from his divorce with his daughters and with you. Len is a Success Coach and an Attorney. You can purchase Len's book and it's accompanying workbook at http://www.wisdomfordivorcedparents.com
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