Should I(we) tell the children? How and when?

Should I(we) tell the children? How and when?

Children are perceptive.  They pick up on what’s happening in a home, even if they don’t know the specifics. Family secrets often have negative impacts on children into their adult lives. In general, transparency and truth are always preferable to secrets and hidden truths.  Indeed, many of our LGBT+ Partners felt compelled to maintain their true sexual orientations or identities as secrets.

If the SP/PTP and the LGBT+ Partner are amicable co-parents, telling the kids together, as a family, in age-appropriate language, is often best. The focus of both parents can then be on the children and their responses, and both parents can be ready to provide any emotional reassurances needed. Both parents should emphasize that no matter what effect disclosure has on the marriage, they will still have two parents who love and care for them. Parents who have been through this report that their best results have come from stating the facts simply and honestly, and then allowing the children to ask questions for clarification as needed. Planning the disclosure in advance or with a therapist can help prepare you for possible questions the children might ask and could allow you to practice the discussion to make it more comfortable. Most children are more concerned with what the disclosure means to them and where they will live, rather than the fact that Daddy is gay or trans, that or Mommy is lesbian. Be prepared to discuss their concerns. Children often adjust quite well to having an LGBT+ parent. The key is how their parents treat each other. 

It is not always possible for disclosure to be a team effort. If the LGBT+ Partner is still closeted, in denial, or unwilling to come out to the children, this creates distress for the Straight Partner or Partner of a Trans Person who struggles with how much and when to disclose to the children. In general, the minimum amount of need-to-know information that gives children enough of the truth to feel grounded in reality, is recommended. Tread carefully here. Disclosing LGBT+ status to children, when the other parent is not out, can create other complications. Working through this with a therapist or family counselor can be helpful. 


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