Well, as the title suggests, sometimes, a divorce happens because somebody came out. And it’s even worse. They come out and then they tell you that in fact they have a lover – of the same gender – and they have been cheating on you all this time with this person. This can be traumatic for someone who used to think their spouse was straight (sometimes they have been married for decades!) only to find out that in fact, their spouse has been lying to everyone.
This is a difficult mine field to navigate for adults. But what about the kids? How do you transition from a straight marriage to a gay relationship without skipping a beat and help your kids to understand that it is not their fault and the world is a safe place that has not gone topsy turvy?
A child psychologist and family therapy are probably a good idea for starters. The older the children are, the more difficult it might be to explain because young children frankly may not understand the difference. Older children may have to deal with bullying and teasing at school; they may feel embarrassed – rightly or wrongly – that their father or mother has “suddenly” announced that they are gay. Some children crazily enough might blame themselves not only for their parents’ divorce but for the parent’s sexual orientation.
It is important for the adults to be extra sensitive to the children in a situation like this. Nasty custody battles that have as an added fuel a sexual-orientation-of-a-parent element will be incredibly confusing for the average child of a certain age who is trapped in the middle of this particular war. A child should never feel he or she is in the middle of their parents’ divorce battle but it is even more important in a scenario like this to do all that is possible to protect the children.
Even if there is perfect understanding between the divorcing parents, it is still important to approach this transition with a certain degree of sensitivity. Maybe you need to ease the kids into this new concept and not force feed them your new Relationship. They are used to seeing mom and dad together and suddenly dad has a boyfriend or mom has a girlfriend and this is fine – for the adults. But could be very disconcerting for kids. So move slowly in putting this new person and your children together in the same space.
If you have custody of the children, maybe you want to give it some time before the new person starts sleeping over or even moving in. If you don’t have custody, it still behooves you to thread carefully with your children. When they are visiting you, it might be a good idea to keep your new relationship under wraps and slowly introduce it – bit by bit – to the kids.