Growing up is hard. I mean really hard. Adolescence is such a strange time when one is trying to figure out the world, processing all kinds of things. Feeling the way between other people and independence. Its a confusing and weird time; looking back all those challenges and questions that seemed so novel and overwhelming seem so routine in retrospect, yet at the time they are all challenges to self definition.
It’s a time when a person is figuring out who he or she is. Where do you want to go to college? What do you want to do? No one knows what they want to do when they’re so busy trying to figure out who they are. I wonder, then, what it must be like for a person who is already trying to figure out where or if they fit in, to realize they might not. How hard must it be for a person, already struggling with identity issues, to realize that they might be gay.
“As a kid, before I ever hit puberty, I always knew I was “different”. While every kid thinks they are different for many reasons, I nonetheless KNEW I was different in a different sort of way. I could go in to all the variables of how I was different, but suffice it to say, I knew at a very early age that I had to be guarded about who I was because of people’s prejudices. I knew the syllogism without having the slightest clue as to what a syllogism was: Odd people are treated horribly. I was odd. Therefore I would be treated badly if anybody knew I was odd. ” Quora post
I can’t imagine how hard adolescence must be carrying that as a realization or belief. Adolescence was hard enough for me, and I carried no such questions, perceptions or doubts. I never had to sit down with my parents and have a “conversation” that I wasn’t going to bring home a girl because I was gay. I never had to wonder or worry if my parents were going to reject me. It’s awkward enough to imagine sitting down and having a conversation with the parents about sexuality and feelings never mind discussing a topic that they’re unprepared for, that could possibly shatter their dreams for you, and one after which you may be judged.
I have always believed it is my job as a parent to prepare this child for adulthood. Its a special relationship, parent to child, because it evolves and changes so much. Time moves so quickly that it is easy to lose sight of the fact that the little baby you once nurtured is growing into their own person. There comes a point where it doesn’t matter what you want for that child – what matters is what they want, and its your job to help them find what they want or need wherever that takes them.
I wish that we didn’t make it so hard on people who may not be what society wants them to be. Every passing joke must make it that much harder for a young person who feels they might be different, and when mom and dad make those comments it separates them from their child that much more. And yet these things happen so blithely.
I want to think that if either of my kids brought home a same sex “friend” it wouldn’t result in any major, earth shattering conversation – it would be met with the same awkwardness bringing home any “friend” elicits. If your kid can’t explore who they are with you as witness, it doesn’t mean they’re not exploring – it means you’re keeping them away. It’s not them, its you.
I don’t know how I would handle it, but I know I love my children and no matter what I feel about it, it’s my job to accept them as people. And that’s where we fall down as parents all the time, and I’m not of a mind to fall down. The fact of the matter is that these children are growing up and making their life decisions whether or not I’m included, and I want to be included – no matter what.
One thought on “Adolescence”
I would never want to return to adolescence … but a tip of the cap to the parents who accept the responsibility and engage in it.