And Suffer the Children

I have learned from 30 years of experience that children from straight-gay marriages have more problems than most of us previously realized. Unfortunately, many of them have bottled up their feelings because they don't want to make you, their mothers, to feel any worse than you already do. They need to connect to others — just like you do — to talk about the issues and their fears that they aren't comfortable discussing with family and friends.

To address the issues of our adult children, I created an support group that meets online weekly where adults 18 and over can confidentially address these issues and find support from others who can understand exactly what they are going through. The purpose of the group, Adult Children of Gay Fathers, is to foster a supportive atmosphere of mutual understanding and healing. There are a number of support systems in place for both the straight wife and gay husband; however, there is a lack of support and resources designed specifically for the children from these marriages. This group is composed entirely of adult children coming from a straight/gay marriage or relationship who need this support.

Our children grew up in homes where there were lies, deception, and often emotional or physical abuse that impacted the family dynamics throughout their lifetimes. Many of these issues remained with them as they entered adulthood and need to be addressed and resolved for their own personal growth. If not, they are likely to have problems in their own future relationships and marriages. Some of the issues our adult children deal with include:

• Establishing trust in their own relationships or future relationships with their partners due to on-going secrets and lies while growing up
• Low self-esteem because some of them were "keepers of the secret" living with guilt and feeling blame
• Questioning of their own sexuality coming from a gay parent and whether or not this has been passed down
• Anxiety due to family problems between their parents in situations based on daily deceptions
• Abandonment issues when the gay parent moved to his/her new life
• Acceptance of their fathers' new lifestyle and partners
• Fear of rejection in their relationships/marriages if the news comes out
• Fear of their future generations and the "gay gene" possibility
• Questioning how many family problems that impacted their thinking was due to their gay fathers' perceptions and how much of it was reality based

These are real questions and fears our children deal with--plus a number of others ones. Some of them are very angry and depressed. Our support system gives them the opportunity to share those feelings with others who feel the same exact way or who can understand it perfectly.

Regardless of what issues your children are dealing with, finding support from others who understand exactly what they are feeling is a major step in healing. The group presently has online support chat that I run once a week as well as a Yahoo private room for posting which I am not part of — just the members.

I strongly encourage you to tell your adult children that there is support for them. Just like you have to heal, they have to heal. Please feel free to have them contact me at Bonkaye@aol.com. Assure them that any correspondence or conversations between us are confidential and only between us — not either of their parents.

Many of you stayed in a unfulfilling and/or destructive marriage thinking it was the right thing to do for your children. You did what you thought was best not realizing the damage that was happening to them. There were no set of directions on how to proceed when you are in this situation — you just try as hard as you can to make it better.

You can't change the past, but you can make a difference in the lives of the those you love the most — your children. Encourage them to get the support, even if they tell you they don't need it. One day their feelings may change, and at least they will know there is a safe place they can go to for support.