Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Do Ask, Do Tell

I have been thinking about last Saturday night.  We had AJ and K sitting together by the fire.  There were sitting very close.  Much of the time AJ had his hand on K's knee and a couple time I caught K rubbing his arm.

With all these little displays of affection, sooner or later the kids are going to notice.  They are going to wonder what is going on with K and AJ.  I am starting to think that we should get out in front of this and tell them that AJ is special to K and that the two of them are dating.  My kids will understand that.  Maybe not my daughter, who is 6, but the others will.  

K and I talked about that last week and I think we are generally  in agreement about it.  When we talked about it though, she asked the next question.

"If they know about me and AJ, won't they ask about you next?"

They might, but I am not sure.

Lately I see T about 1.5 times a week on average.  When I leave the house I always tell them I am leaving and if they ask where I am going, I always tell them the truth.  I tell them I am going to see T.  Now I do not tell them what we are doing, sexual or otherwise, and they do not ask.  I think from their perspective I am visiting a friend just like they would.  In fact, my older boys have a friend that lives down the street they visit sometimes every day.  They play video games and do other teenage boy stuff.  By far, they play with this one kid more than any other kid in the neighborhood.  So from that perspective, they probably don't see anything strange about my activities.

Last Saturday, T and I did sit next to each other by the fire, but not a close as K and AJ.  We did not hold hands or otherwise show affections (aside from knowing looks from time to time.)

I am getting ready to tell the kids that I am gay.  I think I am ready for it.  What I do not know is if THEY are ready for it.  Really they are the last people that matter in my life I need to come out to before I can really come out.  I have a lot of old friends who do not know about me and I have been holding off because my kids don't yet.  I really don't want them finding out from anyone other than me and K.  I also would like for K and us to do it together so they can see that we still support each other and that we (me, K and the kids) will remain a family even if things are different from before.

On the one hand I am ready to do this, but on the other I have a lot of angst about it.  My relationship with my kids means the world to me and I really don't want to screw it up.

I would appreciate comments on how and when others have come out to their kids and the result.


TwoLives said...

I hope you get a lot of comments about this. I may need the same advice one day...

If I remember correctly, you did tell the kids you were divorcing? I remember that the new bedroom prompted some questions but other than the youngest one being clingy for a few days, I don't remember any fall-out from the divorce talk. That certainly bodes well for coming out.

I'm a little surprised that K isn't insisting that you come out before the kids notice that something is going on between her and AJ. I'd expect she'd worry that they'd blame her for the divorce. But maybe she figures it doesn't matter because you'll eventually be dropping the Gay-Bomb and that will make the 'fault' clear.

I'm a chicken. Rather that make a big declaration that I'm a fag, I think I'd prefer that the kids figure it out at their own speed.

When the inevitable questions come from seeing you and T being affectionate, then you can tell them, in a very matter-of-fact way. Yes, it's a wimpy, easier approach than a family meeting announcement but I'd like to think that that the lack of drama would make far less of an impression on the kids.

I'd like to hope that if I'm matter-of-fact about saying it, they'll be matter-of-fact about hearing it.

I am very curious to see what others will say...

Ian said...

It's been 10 years since the day I told my kids. First mistake: I told the two older ones first, thinking they would be able to handle it better. That was true but it wasn't the real issue - all my kids needed to know at the same time.

Second mistake: not telling them earlier. They knew something was up and they knew I was hiding something big. It came as a relief to them, an end to the mystery.

The good news: it was absolutely the right thing to do. It was very, very tough for all of us - they were really upset about what might happen but in the end it was the beginning of setting a lot of things right.

A few years ago my son said to me, "it was really hard and I didn't want you and mom to separate, but now we have Paul in our lives (my husband) and that is the best thing ever."

T said...

Even when the kids know about Jim, I would not want to show affection in front of K or the kids out of respect for them. While I can't imagine how difficult it is to have to tell your kids you are gay, I don't think it's a good idea to wait for the kids to figure things out by observing the adults' actions. I pray that everything would be ok.

Anonymous said...

At some point, we all have to tell the truth and there is a vulnerability in truth. As John Powell writes, "I want to tell you who I am. But if I tell you who I am and you don't like who I am -- its all that I have."

I was scared, being a pastor in a painful divorce. But I took the risk of losing everything when the girls asked, --- and got it all back.

TwoLives said...

T (and Jim!) - I know you all are going to make the right decision based on your situation. I just wanted to clarify that I'm not suggesting that you two should be all over each other in front of the kids. What I do expect is that the love you have for each other cannot be hidden. Unintentionally, through body language and other clues, I think eventually the kids will pick up on your relationship. Then they'll ask about it. This approach appeals to me because it feels more natural, no shock and awe. Conversely, there may be more pressing reasons to be forth-right - like not wanting the kids to be told by someone else. Whatever method you choose, I will be following your progress with great interest.

Anonymous said...

I don't now how old the older ones are, but if they are over 12 or 13 they will probably notice K and AJ's connection, even if they don't notice you and T. If they notice, they might worry about it for a good while before asking, if they would even ask at all. I think it would be best to tell them whatever you plan to tell them, before they start asking questions. That way they won't have wondered and worried for a while. Or worse, heard rumors from friends or acquaintances. That would be more upsetting to them than hearing the truth from their parents. Seems like the worse part for them would be you divorcing, and they already know that's going to happen. So bite the bullet and get the rest of it over with. Now is probably as good a time as any.