Parenting can be tough, there is no debate about that. It is normal that as your children grow up, you start imagining their future and start to have a specific ideal for how you wish their life to be. However, children are independent beings who ultimately grow up to love who they wish to love and build a life which may differ from the ideal their parents once had in mind.
First of all, I wish for this blog to be a safe space, where if you as a parent felt you related to this topic can use this time and these words to reflect. While, if you are reading this as the daughter or partner, I also wish for you to be able to reflect on how this may help you and your parents connect if there are concerns or questions surrounding your upcoming marriage.
It is important to start by acknowledging what is known as internalised homophobia. Internalised homophobia occurs when a person is subject to society’s negative perceptions and stigma toward people with same-sex attraction. These ideas are then turned inward, causing the person to believe that they are true and experience a range of emotions such as shame. Applying homophobic biases to oneself can happen unconsciously and it can happen to anyone regardless of their own sexual orientation (Villines, 2021). For example, if you yourself are in a same sex relationship, consider whether you have ever refrained from holding your same sex partner’s hand in public or looked twice before kissing them to see if anyone is looking. Chances are, this has happened, and it is due to internalised homophobia. If you are a supportive parent, consider whether although you love your daughter, you may still be worried about what people will say then they see the wedding photos; this too may be caused due to internalised homophobia.
Understanding that internalised homophobia may exist in all of us, will help alleviate feelings of shame you may be placing on yourself in relation to your daughter’s relationship. It does not mean you do not love or accept your daughter’s sexuality but that stigma and biases that exist in society are at times impacting your emotions.
Below are some simple tips to help you in this journey
- Think. Are your concerns, if you have any, even related to your daughter’s sexual orientation, or are they just normal concerns that any parent may be having once their child is entering married life?
- Write. Whether you are fully embracing your daughter’s relationship or whether you are experiencing feelings of worry or shame, writing down your thoughts can be therapeutic. If you are struggling, you can write all the things you love about your daughter, and even about their partner. Reflect on how these characteristics hold true, no matter the sexual orientation of your daughter.
- Talk. Support can be found in many places, and it’s good to bounce off thoughts and concerns with someone you trust so you can feel more at ease and have any worries sorted once the day of the wedding arrives. If you feel up to it, you can also involve your daughter in the conversation and have an open discussion, exploring where these worries are coming from. Remember, even supporting and accepting parents may have worries, just like with any sexual orientation or any upcoming marriage.
On the other hand, if you are struggling altogether to accept your daughter’s sexual orientation and upcoming marriage, it would be good to seek professional support. There are various local organisations and professionals with whom you can confidentially discuss your feelings and concerns and possibly even have sessions together with your daughter.
Michaela Pace is a Psychology graduate from the University of Malta. She has worked with children and adolescents within the social sector and currently works as a Triage Officer and Volunteer Manager with Willingness Team, while pursuing a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy.
Villines, Z. (2021). What is ‘internalized homophobia?’. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/internalized-homophobia?c=1028109718307