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When your grandchild is gay

Created date

January 26th, 2010

The passing decades often lead to a mellowing of your attitude toward life. The more you've seen and experienced over the years, usually the more you can take of what life throws at you with equanimity.

And so if one of those curves is that a grandchild turns out to be gay, you're unlikely to get too upset. Whether that's also true of the young person's parents is another story, and if one or both takes a very negative view, what role might you then play?

I'm one of those who believes that grandparents shouldn't meddle too much, but if the news that one of your grandchildren is gay causes a lot of sturm und drang, then perhaps that advice needs to be revised. If the child is getting a lot of grief from his or her parents, as well as from the outside world, then he or she will need a shoulder to cry on, literally.

But even more important, your grandchild may need an advocate. Having one or both parents angry with their child is not the appropriate response. Your grandchild is having a difficult enough time coming to terms with this issue and needs support, not added pressure. But teens are often in a state of conflict with their parents, which stems from the tension of cutting the apron strings. But while you outgrow being a teenager, you never outgrow your sexual identity. And if that sexual identity drives a wedge between parent and child, it could end up being permanent.

Of course, as a grandparent you don't want to drive a wedge between you and your offspring, so I'm not advocating starting a fight. But if you go out of your way to welcome your gay grandchild, as the parent of one of the grandchild's parents, you will have influence. You may not be able to turn your son or daughter's opinion completely around, but by acting as your grandchild's ally, it may help to reduce the level of hostility.

Accepting change is never easy, and there's no doubt the news a young person is gay is going to upset the apple cart. But if you're there to assist in righting that cart, then hopefully the family will be able to continue on its way bathed more or less in unity and love.