Twitter blew up a few days ago as Miley Cyrus spoke openly about being a pansexual individual. Yes, pansexuality is a real thing, Miley is not creating a new word or trying to confuse your teenagers. Simply put, a person identifying as pansexual all gender identities and people. Gender identity does not play a deciding role when determining attraction to a person. A pansexual person can be attracted to anyone who identifies as LGTQ or as straight.
What does this mean for me as the parent of a teenager?
Great question, I’m glad you asked. For the parent of a child who identifies as pansexual it means that you still love them as if they were gay, bi, or straight. I know it sounds confusing but if your child (or a friend for that matter) identifies as pansexual, it does not mean they are gay or bi. This can be really confusing. But, you must begin with love. You might be confused or scared, and guess what, your child probably is too. Typically, teenagers do not like to standout from their peers. If your child feels comfortable now coming out after Miley Cyrus made pansexuality somewhat acceptable in the eyes of their peers, stand beside them. Love them.
Here are three things I think will help as you help your child navigate their new found freedom after coming out as a person identifying as pansexual:
Listen first, then ask questions.
More than likely, your child is going to feel nervous, excited, afraid, and free all at once. Load on top of that the onslaught of teenage hormones and there is a recipe for teenage emotional overload. Be patient and listen.
Empower your child by asking clarifying questions but know that your child may not have an answer. Remember back to your teenage days, you often did not have an explanation for the way you felt, you just knew you felt that way.
Leave your own agenda behind.
You may believe that anything outside the walls of a straight, heterosexual relationship is against God’s design for humanity. You are entitled to your theological interpretation of scripture however, this conversation you are having is not about you. It is not about advancing your theological agenda on a teenager who is still figuring out what they are feeling.
Remember you love your child, want them best for them, and will do anything to help them to be happy. This is something I’ve struggled with as I explore my own theological beliefs all the while knowing that my son would upend all of that one day. I love my son, he is my agenda. I’ve learned over the past 3 years all parents have at least one thing in common, and that is our children are our agenda.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
We can all remember our mothers say, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Glenda would say that to me and my siblings over and over again. I believe this is the most important thing to remember when talking to our children about sexuality. If you have nothing nice to say, keep quiet. It’s that simple. You standing, yelling, and telling your child they are wrong, going to hell, or disowning them will not do anyone any good. You or your child.
Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and Jesse J have made it “OK” for teenagers to realize their sexuality in ways that we could’ve never imagined as teenagers. What we can do as parents, is walk along beside them as they explore what it means to a fill in the blank teenager in a world more confusing and faster paced than we could ever have imagined.
Do you have a teenager who identifies as LGBT or pansexual and need some help? Consider these resources as a starting point