The mother of a 17-year-old boy offered tolerance, encouragement and unconditional love after he came out to her and began dating a male friend of his.
At first, that parenting choice felt like a slam dunk. Her response ushered in a smooth and loving space for an adolescent to carve out an identity that unfortunately brings along some difficulties in our society.
The one hitch? She never told her ex, the son’s father.
Nonetheless, the father found out about everything by surprise. Those smooth circumstances abruptly went away. Family conflict arose, and navigating it all became difficult for everybody.
So she turned to the internet for some advice. Throwawayyyy73642993, as the anonymous mother dubbed herself on Reddit, posted to the “Am I the A**hole” subReddit to ask if she made the right moves and decisions throughout the whole ordeal.
She began the post with an outline of the family dynamics and the fundamentally different approaches to discussions of sexuality.
“My ex and I ended our marriage when our son was 4. We didn’t want the same things, but we remain respectful and co-parent our son.”
“My ex gave our son ‘Leo’ (17M(ale)) the sex talk when he was younger, but forgot the whole talk? Yes, he learned about sex, but he left out the LGBTQ+ community, safe relationships, boundaries etc.”
“So I explained that to him after and we’ve touched on the subjects as he’s gotten older.”
Having laid the backdrop, she moved on to the main inciting event: her son’s courageous acknowledgement of who he is.
“Last summer, my son came to me and said that he’s bisexual. Specifically, he was attracted to his friend ‘Nate’ (17M) who came out a few years ago as gay. Leo was nervous about telling people.
“I told him I support him and explained that if he felt he didn’t want to tell anyone he didn’t have to, or if he wanted to he could tell whoever he wanted and that I would always be there for him and support him.”
Undoubtedly, her support and openness allowed what happened next to be possible.
“Well in February, Leo and Nate came to me and said they were together. I’m so happy for them, they’re great together and they just seem happy!”
“Now, I felt that if I suddenly said ‘no sleep overs any more’ and ‘no closed doors’ I would be hurting them and driving them to rebel. ‘Strict parents equal sneaky kids’ type thing.”
“They’ve been friends for so long and I felt like if they trusted me to tell me, they would respect my rules. And they have, they’ve been great!”
“Since they told me, Leo still didn’t feel comfortable coming out to certain people, like his dad. He felt that his dad wouldn’t accept him because my ex is ‘traditionally masculine.’ He came out to me and some friends.”
But when the young couple spent the evening with her son’s dad, things went off the rails.
“Now: My ex called me two nights ago screaming that he walked in on Leo and Nate kissing in Leo’s room. I told him to calm down before Leo heard and pushed him away for not feeling accepted.”
“Ex didn’t listen and was screaming that I should have told him Leo was gay and that he was dating Nate. He said that if I knew, I should have told him so they wouldn’t be alone together. I tried to explain to him that it’s about trust and he hung up on me.”
“Leo called me to pick him up so I did. Nate had left after my ex saw them together. I called him to check in when we got home and he said he was okay. Leo was in tears the whole way home and he’s been upset since.”
Of course, she wished there was some way to prevent what took place. But upon thinking it through, she acknowledged that there was no clear right move.
“Now here’s MY issue: I don’t know if I‘m the [a**hole] in this situation. My reasoning is that if I told my ex, I would be betraying Leo’s trust and that he needed to come out to his dad on his own terms. I would be forcing him out of the ‘closet’ if I had said anything.”
“I trust my son not to do something he shouldn’t, he’s never given me a reason not to. Obviously they’re in a relationship and they’re going to kiss. I don’t think an innocent kiss is a big deal.”
She ended the post with a plea for advice and closure.
“My ex thinks it was a breach of trust on my end for not telling him so he could have made his own rules regarding their relationship. Ex is still angry, not talking to me and has said nothing to Leo yet, either.”
“Leo said that it was just a single kiss while they were playing video games and then his dad walked in.”
“AITA for not telling my son’s dad?”
An overwhelming majority of responses on Reddit expressed support and assurance that, while there was some conflict involved, this mother acted exactly as she should have.
“NTA,” short for “Not the A**hole,” was a common prefix to the feedback.
Many of these comments applauded her discretion and commitment to her son’s privacy.
“NTA. Your son was entitled to deciding who to tell and when to tell them about his sexuality. Period.” — NUTmeSHELL
“NTA. I think it was totally fair for you to not tell him, and you’re right it should definitely be your sons call. It’s not your fault he reacted so terribly. That’s his own issue, and he better learn to accept it quick before his son pushes him away.” — nunono
“NTA It isn’t your place to go blabbing about your son’s sexuality to anyone: even his father. It is his right to share this information as he sees fit.” — DreadGrrl
“NTA! parents who out their kids when they aren’t ready often sour their relationship with them, you trust your son and he trusts you. you didn’t break that trust by not telling your ex he’s into guys as well.”
“That’s for your son to say when he feels ready, great parenting on your end!” — mauvericc
Others focused on the father’s reaction. They concluded that the real issue was not his desire to be informed, but whether or not he was tolerant.
“NTA. You did absolutely the right thing.”
“Your ex wanted to have known so they ‘wouldn’t be alone?’ Yeah, right. Nobody flips their lid after seeing a little kissing that they believe is acceptable.”
“He does not, therefore, believe it is acceptable. He believes it is bad. And what makes him think it is bad? Hmm, I wonder. Oh, I know. Because they weren’t social distancing! /sarcasm” — Beka_Cooper
“NTA – There are very few situations in which you should be outing someone after they come out to you if they don’t want everyone to know. Especially when that person seemingly has rage issues and may be a bit homophobic.” — StarbuckTheDeer
“NTA. I’m going to guess that if his dad walked in on him having sex with a 17-year-old girl that he probably just would have high-fived his son afterwards.”
“Also he’s [the a**hole] for walking in without knocking (assuming, but the story doesn’t make sense without that).” — HyacinthFT
“NTA Your son wasn’t ready to come out to his father, and you respected that. Apparently ex lived up to every bad suspicion Leo had. You did the right thing.” — ViolentPlotBunny
“NTA at all. First of all, coming out is extremely personal and we tell people on our own terms and when we feel comfortable. Second I think your ex’s reaction is exactly what Leo was afraid of.” — mrose1491
Fortunately, this mother can apparently rest assured that she made the right call. We hope that amount of comfort will come to her son as well.