I am the father of a recently out 18-year-old gay boy. Here's the problem, My son is in a relationship with a 31-year-old guy.
Published: March 29, 2012
I am the father of a recently out 18-year-old gay boy. Here's the problem: My son is in a relationship with a 31-year-old guy. I'm not OK with that. Yes, my son is a legal adult at 18 and can make his own decisions, but he's also still in high school. His mother argues that in order to be supportive, we can't object to this relationship. I don't think this is a gay vs. straight objection. If I had an 18-year-old heterosexual daughter who was in a relationship with a 31-year-old man, I would have exactly the same concerns and objections. Beyond that, even if I can establish that it's OK to have an objection, or to feel the need to take some action to be supportive for my son, I don't know what I can or should do. What say you, oh wise one?
One Concerned Dad
Your wife is wrong.
Homophobic parents are bad for gay kids. But “supportive” parents who let their gay kids get away with murder – supportive parents who stop parenting their gay kids because they worry about seeming homophobic if they object to lousy gay boyfriends, choices, apparel, etc. – aren't doing their gay kids any favors, either. Your son, despite what he might tell you, needs his parents to advise him, meddle in his affairs, even object and interfere.
Here's what I would do if I were in your shoes, OCD – I would take my son's 31-year-old boyfriend out for a beer and ask him a lot of pointed questions: How did you meet my son? Are you having sex with my son? Are you using condoms? What is your HIV status? How old was your last boyfriend? And, finally, do you realize that I will tear you gay limb from gay limb if you hurt my gay kid?
As for your son, OCD, tell him that you realize gay guys his age sometimes date older men because there aren't a lot of boys his own age to choose from. (If you didn't already know that, now you do.) And tell your son that this gay dude you know – that would be me – told you that something's usually wrong when a 31-year-old is dating a teenager. Something's usually wrong with the 31-year-old. There are exceptions, of course, and maybe his boyfriend is exceptional – maybe he's not a jerk who pursues naive boys because gay men his own age can see through his shit – but the simple fact of his age requires that he be subjected to a higher degree of scrutiny than a first boyfriend who was closer to your son's own age.
Finally, OCD, tell your son that you know he's an adult and free to date whomever he wants. But you're his dad and he has to hear you out – whether he wants to or not.
I'm 16 and an openly gay boy in a verywelcoming community. My first boyfriend and I broke up recently. We'll be friends again, I'm sure, but now I don't even have a hint of any sort of anything on the horizon, and it's driving me insane. All the out gay guys here are nice, but most are sassy stereotypical caricature flamer types and I'm not attracted to any of them. But those are the kind of people who are out at 16. I just hate thinking I'm alone for the foreseeable future. I know the logical thing is for me to wait, but how am I supposed to wait? Is there any alternative?
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