I’m a 14-year-old girl, a freshman in high school and very gay. Also, my parents are Christians. I really want a girlfriend (surprise, surprise, right?) but my parents told me they don’t want me dating until I’m 18, which was, ironically, first announced the night I came out as a lesbian almost two months ago. They took it pretty well, considering how others’ coming outs have gone. My mom is either a) on her way to being completely accepting, or b) in complete denial and just humoring me. I have no idea where my dad is with the whole thing; he could be meandering in the Bermuda Triangle of just-a-phaseland for all I know. But they do love me.
Now, you must understand, I absolutely respect their authority and the fact that they do have the right to restrict me in terms of dating, and I’m not saying I want to jump into one of those immature relationships solely driven by fleeting, hormonal emotions and/or social status bulls–t. I honestly can’t see myself getting into a relationship for, at the very least, a year — but my god, 18? Tell me I’m not overreacting when I say, “HAHAHA.” C’mon.
So, I guess what I’m asking is, what should I do? Try and talk to them now? Wait to talk to them until I meet someone who I feel I could be in a mature relationship with? Or go behind their backs and date who I want (which I don’t particularly want to do)?
Anna says: Eighteen does seem a bit strict, but then, my parents were kind of “shine some light on a star, maaan” hippies, so maybe I have a warped worldview of strictness. My dad did, however, forbid me from dating a 17-year-old when I was 14. The injustice! Didn’t he know that Jonathan Taylor Thomas and I were destined to be together?! (Tangent: Don’t y’all think that JTT looks a bit lesbian-ish these days?)
I think it’s pretty standard for parents to freak out a little when they realize their children are sexual beings, regardless of where they fall on the straight-to-vagitarian spectrum. Luckily, the more our folks get used to the idea of us dating, and it might take a little while, the more those dating rules tend to loosen. I wouldn’t try to argue with them right this second over your new, but has yet to materialize girlfriend. I’m sure she’s great though. With parents, you have to pick your battles. There’s no sense in pushing newly created boundaries when nothing awaits you on the other side. It’ll just piss them off and end up frustrating you. Plus, they probably need some time to adjust to your newfound queerness. Two months might seem like a long time, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s peanuts.
I would, however, continue to have open and honest discussions with them about sex and dating. As much as you can stomach, anyway. And I’m not speaking of creepy sex ed talks. We tend to forget that our parents were once angsty, hormonal teenagers just like us, and they’ve been around the block several times. Depending on the kind of relationship you have with your parents, they can be excellent sources. Some of the most fascinating, genuine discussions I’ve ever had with my folks involved their early dating escapades. Ask them when they started dating. Ask them how old they were when they first fell in love or had a huge, life-altering crush. Talk about your hopes and concerns. Keeping the lines of communication open in this way will help to establish trust, which you can then use to manipulate them into seeing things your way down the road. Just kidding. Mostly.
Once your super awesome girlfriend does materialize, then you can have the discussion again. The best way to prove to your parents that you deserve more dating leeway is to show them that you can be responsible. “Hey Mom and Pops, I just met this amazing girl and I’d love to take her to the sock hop if the year was 1955. Since we’ve been having all these great discussions about dating, I feel totally equipped to make the right choices about my love life. Will you give me a chance to prove what great parents you’ve been?” That’s obviously overdoing it, but you get the idea. If you tell your folks what you’re doing, when you’ll be home, and give them the chance to text or check in on you, it’ll be hard for them to say no. After you do go on a date or two, be sure to thank your parents for letting you have some independence. Gratitude goes along with that whole trust business, and it’s always appreciated.
You’re already ahead of the game for coming out at such a young age. Kudos to you for being so brave and forthcoming with your folks. That’s really awesome. Your future girlfriend is out there somewhere thanking you for all your efforts.
The Hook Up: 11-2-2011