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Author Topic: Relationship With My Dad
iceskatinguphill
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Though my relationship with my dad has had its tense moments, I feel like recently it has been a lot worse.

He and my mom have been separated (they were never married) for longer than I can remember, and I mostly live with Mom, so I'm not with him all the time. (Please understand that I visit him regularly and have no resentment towards this arrangement).

Especially within the last few years, our political/religious/spiritual beliefs have gravitated to be almost exactly opposite each other. I am aware of this, but suspected my dad was not-he's not particularly observant in that way. After growing increasingly uncomfortable with attending his church while I'm visiting him, I had an open discussion with him. I told him I was not Christian, and that some of the church's teachings bothered me. (They include biased, misogynistic, extreme views of sexuality, sex ed, etc.) I asked to not have to attend church while I was with him anymore.

Though I made sure to say I meant no disrespect, and that in fact I hold what I believe to be Christianity's main message in high regard, things are not the same between us. I can tell from how he acts that he is either uncomfortable around me, or doesn't know what to say.

I need advice on this situation. [Frown] I love him very much, and I don't want this to ruin our relationship.

I am also bisexual, and have known myself to be for a while. I am genuinely frightened of what would happen if I brought home a girlfriend and he found out.

So any insight would be lovely.

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Robin Lee
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HI iceskatinguphill and welcome to Scarleteen.

Your love for your Dad shines through this whole post, and it's clear you want to do your best by the relationship the two of you have, while still remaining true to yourself.

Parent-child relationships, as I think you know, become more complex as the child grows into being their own person. This can be the case even more when the beliefs the child holds are opposite to those the parent holds.

Congratulations for having the courage to speak up to your Dad about how you didn't want to go to church with him. Continuing to do something someone else wants you to can breed a lot of resentment.

I'm wondering how it would be if you sat down with your Dad and basically told him what you've said in the first part of this post: that you love him very much, and that you've noticed that things feel a little strained now that you've decided not to go to church with him. You can further explain that you care for him as much as you ever have, and deciding not to go to church was something important you needed to do for yourself, and doesn't reflect on your feelings or respect for him.

I also want to emphasize that while you can open the lines of communication on this, making the relationship between you and your Dad okay isn't just your responsibility. It may be a cliche, but it really is true that to maintain any sort of relationship it does take two, or however many people are in the relationship.

Regarding your bisexuality, and the possibility that you could bring a girlfriend home one day, I'm wondering what kind of support you have, or think you'd have, from your Mom around this. I'm also wondering if you could talk a little more about what you anticipate your Dad's reaction could be, about what frightens you about that possibility.

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Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
iceskatinguphill
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Hi Robin Lee! Thank you for replying so quickly.

My mom would be completely supportive if I brought a girlfriend home. She's spoken to me several times about how some of her friends are GLBT, and that she supports GLBT rights.

I guess frightened wouldn't be the right word; anxious is probably closer. Based on what I have seen of his church and my stepmother's family (her family attends a similar church), my dad would not have the same reaction as my mother. While I have not broached the subject with him, I am almost completely sure that my dad believes that same-sex relationships are wrong.

I can imagine having a conversation with him where I would explain that I'm not dating a guy. His first reaction would probably be shock, then something like "You know that's a sin according to the Bible" or "I can't support you doing that". He would not comprehend the distinction between me dating a girl and being gay, and dating a girl and being bi. I should hope that he wouldn't try to make me attend "reform therapies" like I know they had for gays at his previous church (I don't think he would, but the possibility worries me).

My relationship with my stepmom would also suffer. I know she'd have the same reaction as my dad.

I don't want to need to have to hide who I'm dating from my father. And it saddens me to think that I might not be able to talk to him about someone I'm dating because of their gender.

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Robin Lee
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Hi Again,

That's terrific that your Mom is so positive and supportive. Does she know that you identify as bisexual?

I know it's really distressing to think of your father not accepting you, and furthermore not understanding what bisexuality means, and what it means to you.

Certainly, if you think that he could take you to any kind of treatment that you don't want and that could even endanger your mental well-being, you would need to both talk to your Mom and consider whether it's safe to tell your Dad. Considering how much you love your Dad, I imagine that keeping something so important to you from him feels icky. What I have heard a lot of gay and bisexual adults say is that it's often wise for one's own personal well-being and success to avoid coming out to a parent who could be hostile until one is no longer dependent on that parent, and particularly until that parent no longer has any legal power over you.

That's not the final word on any of this of course, as what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another. Remember to that what may be right for you now won't necessarily be right forever. Maybe it doesn't feel like the best idea to tell him right now, but that doesn't mean you'll never be able to tell him.

Do you have other friends and family members to share this with? Is there anyone who knows your Dad with whom you could share your concerns and ask for an informed opinion?

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Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
copper86
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I'm so sorry to hear that you are going through this, iceskatinguphill. I am a Christian, but I take offense when religious groups are anti-GLBT and the rights they definitely deserve. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect; so I truly think that these religious groups are actually contradicting their own beliefs and the Bible by not treating others the way they themselves would like to be treated.

I empathize with you about feeling unhappy about not being able to share something so personal and important to you with your father, someone who is also very special to you. I agree with what Robin stated: what do you think about waiting until you are not dependent on your father to tell him about your sexuality?

I have heard of those "reform therapy" places, and they really scare me, too. I don't mean to pry, but regardless of your age, you do not have to attend any of those therapies or your father's churches if you don't want to. It is your choice, especially since it involves your mental well-being and your beliefs.

I'm sorry that you are going through this, and I hope you feel better soon!

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"I do the best that I can. I'm just what I am." - Rush (Best I Can)

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iceskatinguphill
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To be honest, I haven't told anyone I'm bisexual, and I don't really know that that's something I feel comfortable doing right now. I'm sure I will at some point, but I don't feel ready to do that yet.

Robin Lee, thank you. Just... thank you. I needed someone to say that just because I don't want to tell him right now, doesn't mean I never can.

And you, copper86... I truly wish there were more people like you in the world. There would be a lot less strife if people focused on love and acceptance rather than intolerance or hate.

I don't really think my dad would take me to "reform therapy"; sorry if I didn't communicate that in my earlier post. It's just that the idea of it, or of going to something like it, makes me nervous.

For now, I'm just going to focus on improving my relationship with my dad outside of this, and hope that when the time comes, he'll be able to accept my sexuality without prejudice.

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MusicNerd
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You know, my dad used to be very homophobic due to his upbringing, while my mom's always been really chill about LGBT people. Eventually, when he saw me making friends with LGTBQ kids at my school and realizing that they're not so bad, after years of his homophobia he finally started to say things like, "Why don't they just let gay people get married?" I never thought after all these years that I'd ever hear him say something like that.

This month I came out to my parents as bisexual and he was chill with it and he said that he still loved me and thought I was still a "great person". If he still had the mindset that he had when I was younger, I don't think I would've came out to him; but his views had shifted so drastically over the years, I felt comfortable coming out to both him and my mom. You definitely don't have to come out to your dad right now if you feel the timing's not right, and I think there's a possibility that he might come around one day, you know?

I wish you all the best, iceskatinguphill. *hug* [Smile]

[ 07-26-2012, 03:01 PM: Message edited by: MusicNerd ]

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~Dr. Seuss

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WesLuck
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-hugs for iceskatinguphill- [Smile] (And I hope you get some downhill sections too!)
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Robin Lee
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Hey iceskatinguphill,

You're most welcome. I'm glad to hear that you've found support here.

It sounds like you're still working out your sexual orientation on your own; you absolutely get to decide when you tell people and who you tell. [Smile]

If you'd like, we can chat more about working on your relationship with your Dad.

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Robin

Posts: 6066 | From: Washington DC suburbs | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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