Dear Miriam,

Our 16-year-old daughter recently came out to us as gay. I would not say that it came as a huge shock, but at the same time, we are still adjusting to this new reality. We love her and want her to be happy and comfortable in herself, but we live in a rural area and I am afraid that she might be bullied in school or not accepted for herself. You sometimes hear about attacks etc on the news and I worry for her future.

How can we best support her?

Worried mam

Dear Worried mam,

Thank you for your email. The first thing I would say is that you are a great mam, and I’m sure that goes for your husband too. You obviously love your daughter very much and want the best for her. I’m sure she felt this in her heart when she made the decision to come out to you.

At the same time, it still is an adjustment for you all and it’s ok to acknowledge that it might take time to get your head around everything, even if it was not entirely unexpected. But the truth is that your daughter has not changed. She is still the same girl, and you are still her parents. Every parent worries about their child’s future. I understand that you have concerns that she may be bullied or targeted because of her sexuality, but I think the main thing that you can do is to continue showing your love and support for her and to maintain an open dialogue so that she knows that if something does happen, that you as her parents “have her back” and will be there to support her in every way possible.

She is still the same girl, and you are still her parents

It might be worth connecting with a network like BeLong To, which supports young people who have come out as LGBTI+, but also their parents/caregivers. They have a network of youth groups around Ireland facilitated by experienced youth workers where your daughter could connect with other young people to develop friendships and get support, with events ranging from pizza nights and clothes swaps to information and educational events. They also run parent groups if you feel that you need a bit of support and guidance in order to best support your daughter. You can find out more at www.belongto.org or by calling 01-670-6223.

By responding with love and acceptance, you are doing such a great job already. Have faith in yourself as parents and in your daughter. I wish you all the best of luck.

Reader writes

Dear Miriam,

In reply to your advice to “My husband won’t leave the farm for a wedding”, I totally understand and resonate with that lady. I’m the wife of a workaholic farmer. He has no time for his wife or family. I had a very stressful few years, which nearly broke my mental health. I had two choices: leave him or just make a life for myself and my family with him. I did the latter. I now take the children on days out, holidays and even abroad on my own. I have them involved in every sport and activity I can.

I know it’s extremely hard as I also work, but I do it for my children. I have a great life with my two children. I attend everything with my children or on my own. I tell this lady just go on your own and have a wonderful time. I go on my own to everything, but as I repeatedly say to myself it’s his loss as he misses out on such valuable family time, which is so special as life is short.

Enjoy the wedding,

A regular reader

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