Q My 12-year-old son is a typical boy, plays video games, hangs out in the park with his friends and wants to be a YouTuber for his career!
He shared with me that he is bisexual and this shocked me as he has never displayed any behaviours that would lead me to believe this. I accept and love him for who he is but feel confused by his declaration because he is so young. I wonder if he is confused about his sexuality or in general? I want to help him in this process and also want some clarity for myself as well.
Answer: There are a number of real positives about the process so far that jump out to me. It is great that he felt comfortable enough, and confident enough, to be able to tell you about his sexual feelings at age 12. That suggests that you and he have a good relationship and that he trusts you and respects you.
It is also really good to hear that your immediate response to him is to accept and love him for who he is. That openness and willingness to just listen, without judgement, is critically important when children choose to tell us something that is centrally important to their lives. Indeed, it sounds to me like you are already helping him with his process of understanding his sexuality.
The social environment that children grow up in, today, is vastly different to the environment that you or I grew up in. The internet has radically changed children's exposure to, and understanding of, sex, sexuality and relationships. So I think we are wise to recognise that our children may need help to make sense of their developing sexual feelings.
You describe that his news came as a shock to you, and it is fair that it might take you some time to get your own head around his "declaration". You might want to contact an organisation like BeLonG To (belongto.org) to help you with your own process of understanding this aspect of your son.
Irrespective of your son's sexual orientation, it will be really important for you to feel able to share your values, and your opinions about general sexual behaviour, sexual attitudes, sexual feelings and how these can be healthily integrated into loving relationships as he grows older.
At age 12 he is young to be definitive about his sexual feelings. We only come to be clearer about our sexual feelings through our sexual experiences. Our sexual behaviour tells us (and others) more about our sexuality than any declarations or statements we make.
He has plenty of time yet to grow up into his adult sexuality and he will successfully do that with the kind of support, acceptance and guidance that you are already offering him.
Q My eight-year-old son laughs when someone hurts themselves and can't stop himself. At other times too he seems to lack empathy. But he is extremely affectionate and can show a very caring side. He has a lot of friends, but no best friend. In a school outing he will be the one that is left sitting on the bus without a partner. Are his lack of empathy, laughing at inappropriate situations and inability to establish close friendships all linked in some way?