Help with relationship rules for my gay daughter

(50 Posts)
Cazlit Tue 16-Apr-13 22:46:14

Hi. My daughter told me she was gay 4 days after her 14th birthday then wouldn't speak about it at all until she texted me, in high spirits, from a Florence and the Machine gig last November to tell me again. Now she is 16 and a half and has her first girlfriend, another girl at school. All cool so far. However she has a really active social media social life and has lots of Twitter friends that she skypes regularly and is planning to meet up with some of them, during half term, at the Chime for Change concert at Twickenham. We want to let her go, even though it is in the middle of GCSE's, as an incentive to work during half term, but she has told us that the girls she is meeting up with at the gig are from her 'other internet life' and are all 19/20ish. We would never let her go out alone with unknown boys/ men this age so why are we tempted to relax the rules because they're girls? Our daughter is bright, articulate and great at interacting with my friends, but they are in their 40's and aren't going to encourage her to drink alcohol or attempt to seduce her, hopefullysmile. We understand how opposite sex relationships tended to work for us in the olden days, but have no one to tell us the way gay women tend to navigate relationships. My husband thinks we shouldn't worry, if teenage girls were inherently predatory he'd have had a far more interesting sex life in his late teens! Any advice gratefully sought.

Same issue with sleepovers. We wouldn't let her have a boyfriend sleepover, but she's been having girls sleepover since she was 5. Seems odd to stop it now, but if she might be having sex with them shouldn't we be using the same moral compass to navigate this issue as we would if she was asking boys to spend the night?

ripsishere Wed 17-Apr-13 02:49:38

IMO, you should treat it in the same way you would a heterosexual issue.
Will her GF be there with them?

ripsishere Wed 17-Apr-13 02:51:14

I wanted to add, not too sure about the sleepovers. I have a very close lesbian friend, I have slept at her house, and even in her bed without any sexual shenanigans happening. I have to say I was around 17 when that started, so older.
I honestly doubt your DD would be inviting random girls from her class over for purposes other than she normally would.

nooka Wed 17-Apr-13 04:06:46

Of course you can get predatory gay women, our friend's daughter was in an abusive relationship with an older girl at around about the same age as your dd. As to how common it is I've no idea.

I think that you need to put the lesbian thing to one side for a moment, as just because your dd is meeting up with a group of girls doesn't mean that they are all lesbian or indeed even if they were that they have any particular interest in your dd. So think if she hadn't told you she was gay would you be worried about the scenario? Would you let her go to the gig with a bunch of older girls you've not met? It's totally reasonable to be concerned about the age difference regardless, and I think your concerns about alcohol are probably more relevant really.

With the sleepovers the problem is that if you say she can't have girls over just in case she might be having sex with them then essentially you are segregating her and I doubt that she will react well at all. Plus it's not a very trusting attitude, when it doesn't sound as if your dd has given you any cause to suspect that her 'moral compass' is different from your own (although I'd say that many 16 year olds enjoy sexual relations).

flow4 Wed 17-Apr-13 07:27:12

I would be very uncomfortable about meeting internet/online 'friends' alone on strange territory at night, whether they were male or female, 16 or 60. And I mean I wouldn't want to do it, let alone want my DCs to...

If she's going with a 'real life' friend too, though, and you run through basic safety rules with her, I think that's ok.

The sleepover rules are very different. I have always felt I'd prefer my DCs to be safe in their own beds than elsewhere, so BFs or GFs would be welcome.

Cazlit Wed 17-Apr-13 07:58:16

Thanks for advice so far. I am new to mums net. DD? Daughter something? I trust my daughter most of the time, Nooka: We left her home alone for a week to go skiing with the boys because she didn't want to come and she did well. Loads of my friends say they'd never trust their children or their friends enough to do this. Her girlfriend comes over and we leave them home alone, because it would be really weird not to, but I just wonder if because they are both girls and there is no risk of unwanted pregnancy, and less risk of STD that we are being less vigilant than we would be if it were a boy that she was having over. Of course most of her friends are straight but she does hang around with a group who identify as gay and transgender, of course I don't think they are all trying to have sex with her, and I'm comfortable with the knowledge that 16 year olds have sex. But I am of the opinion that her Internet buddies are predominantly gay as it is such an easy way to be open and meet people of a similar ilk, which is such a good thing in so many ways, but the girls she will meet at the concert are, I think, predominantly gay and 3 or 4 years older than her and miles away from home, German, Australian etc, so in a completely different stage of their lives to my daughter. Her GF wont be there: I think I've answered my own question. But I do want her to go, I'm so ambivalent, she has such positive powerful relationships with these women and its a wonderful opportunity to meet several of them in one go, not so far from home.

In general, what I would like is advice from gay women about their experience of finding their feet in relationships but I guess there aren't many if them on mumsnet. I think I'm in the wrong place. Is all very well to say put her sexuality to one side, but it does change things, although many of her experiences will be the same as mine or my husbands, many will be different. Surely our own experience is what we use most to navigate us through parenting and we don't have that knowledge We want to be as well informed as we can be by people who have experience with this situation, either as a gay person themselves or as parents of gay girls.

ripsishere Wed 17-Apr-13 08:01:38

You sound like a lovely mum. I know there are several gay mums on these boards, there is in fact a separate area for them. Have a search.
I think there are support groups for parents of LGBT children.

Cazlit Wed 17-Apr-13 08:07:50

Hi Flow4. This whole Internet friend thing is so unfamiliar to my generation, but it isn't all Daily Mail horror stories. I've spoken to one of her friends on the phone and seen her when they've been Skyping, and read letters from her. In so many ways my daughters use of the Internet is thoroughly modern and empowering. I would say these people are her friends.

I have no advice, Cazlit, as I've never been in your situation but couldn't read your posts without thinking what an intelligent, reasoned, loving and supportive parent you sound. smile

Katz Wed 17-Apr-13 08:17:25

I think, regardless of sexuality, that I wouldn't be happy with my 16 year daughter meeting up with a group of 19/20 year old she'd met on the Internet. My girls aren't that old (10 and 7) yet but this would be a no-no for me.

Katz Wed 17-Apr-13 08:18:18

Should add that if either of my girls are gay that I can be as open and understanding as you come across.

colditz Wed 17-Apr-13 08:19:12

Lack of sleep overs in heterosexual relationships are more about prevention of pregnancy IMHO.

Once my kids are legal I don't mind who they are doing as long as it is safe, legal, and I don't have to hear it at 3 am

colditz Wed 17-Apr-13 08:20:52

Saying that, 19 and 20 year olds are not necessarily the streetwise adults you are predicting. My friends who are gay all seem a little more sexually innocent than their heterosexual peers, perhaps through lack of opportunity in a v small town!

colditz Wed 17-Apr-13 08:22:19

Op there is a topic for gltb parents, maybe ask there? They'd have experienced being a gay sixteen year old ... Also a gay twenty year old.

Laquila Wed 17-Apr-13 08:23:38

I don't really have any experience or advice on this, I'm afraid, and can only second the comments that you sound like a very patient and understanding mum!

All I can suggest is that you ask your daughter to keep in regular contact with you whilst she's at the concert, and make sure she knows to let you know if she feels uncomfortable or threatened at all (which frankly seems quite unlikely to me).

Cazlit Wed 17-Apr-13 08:26:27

Thanks folks. I think you're right Katz, I don't feel comfortable about it, but another part of me is asking, just because this way of having relationships is unfamiliar to me, should I stifle my daughter's opportunity to embrace it? As it turns out, she probably isn't going now as she has a GCSE on the following Monday, not Wednesday as originally assured. Genuine mistake, honest Mum, pleeeease...

Cazlit Wed 17-Apr-13 08:29:50

Sound advice. While we were away for a week she texted twice! Luckily we'd arranged for people to have her round for dinner a few times and they texted us.

Messandmayhem Wed 17-Apr-13 08:36:33

I think regardless of sexuality her experiences could be very different from yours, just due to generational differences, the culture of her friendship group etc. My sister is only 5 1/2 years younger than me but her experiences are VASTLY different from my own, and both of is had vastly different experiences from our parents.

I don't know about the meeting up with internet friends. Perhaps take some precautions like asking to drop her off / collect her, check in my phone at x time, strict no alcohol with dire consequences if she drinks, and (although it's very unlikely that anything untoward will happen) leave these women's contact details (including social media names/twitter handles) in a sealed envelope with you.

Has she spoke to these women on skype / the phone? So she can be sure they are women? Would she let you speak to them?

I wouldn't stop sleepovers, I would just talk to her about safe sex, her right to say no and general respect for your household.

BIWI Wed 17-Apr-13 08:49:46

As the mother of a gay son, I'm really rather puzzled by your posts. I can see that you will be concerned about your daughter, but I really don't understand why her being gay comes into it at all.

MooMooSkit Wed 17-Apr-13 08:58:10

I'm not sure I'd be letting her go out with people off the internet, especially round her Gcse's but now she's sixteen I don't see the issue with her having sex? Even if she was straight I wouldn't have a problem. I've always said once mine are 16 they can have partners over (so long as they are of legal age to) and as long as they are safe and not bonking at 1am keeping me awake it's fine.

TheFallenNinja Wed 17-Apr-13 09:01:38

Gay or straight. Rules are rules. If your not comfortable or concerned the put in whatever rules remove the concern, make the rules clear and hope for the best

Good luck

Cazlit Wed 17-Apr-13 15:19:43

Ok. This is all semantics now as the concert is off due to the ongoing stretching of the truth about all things GCSE, but it is still an interesting debate.

My post is puzzling, let's try and clear it up. There are lots of things going on here: homosexuality, social networking, boundaries, independence, GCSE's etc. All topics I feel able to address with my daughter, and have done, we have what I believe to be a close relationship. Why is her being gay relevant? These are my feelings.

1. If she were heterosexual and was going to a concert with some late teen guys she'd met on the Internet, she wouldn't be going.

2. If she were heterosexual and was going to a concert with a bunch of late teen girls she'd met on the Internet, she'd probably be going.

3. She is gay. Does situation 2 or 3 apply?

Lets get it clear, these are definitely girls she will be meeting, they have been seen and spoken to, in my opinion this isn't a chat room disaster waiting to happen, but simply a situation that I have no frame of reference for.

BIWI Wed 17-Apr-13 15:37:45

But surely the issue is about her safety in going to a concert with people she has never met on the internet. It's nothing to do with her being gay!

Floralnomad Wed 17-Apr-13 15:48:26

I am the mother of a gay son and I can see where you are coming from . If it were my son in the same circumstances he wouldn't be going . Likewise with the sleepover issue I do not have people sleeping over and as I pointed out to my son when he was about 17 and embarking on his first serious relationship it didnt matter whether it was male or female I would still not be having people sleeping over. They are welcome to be in his room until 11.30 and can do what they want but at 11.30 I expect everyone to be downstairs so that everyone else who lives here can go to bed . The same rules will apply to my younger child who as far as I am aware is heterosexual .

Cazlit Wed 17-Apr-13 16:06:30

Hi BIWI. I believe she would probably be safe with a group of girls she met on the Internet if they were straight, I believe she might not be safe with a group of boys she met on the Internet if they were all straight. I am struggling to form an opinion of the third scenario, which only arises because she is gay. I think this is relevant, can you explain why it isn't?

BIWI Wed 17-Apr-13 16:11:36

I think it's an odd premise.

She is at risk meeting anyone from the internet - male or female.

She may end up romantically/sexually involved with someone else. But why shouldn't she? She is over 16. This is the bit I don't get. Why is there a problem with her starting a relationship with another person?

Cazlit Wed 17-Apr-13 16:27:34

Shes already met up with people shes met on the internet, people do it every day, it's perfectly safe if done sensibly. And there isn't a problem with her starting a relationship with another person, she is in a relationship at the moment. What I am trying to do is explore how my judgement is altered by her situation. i am finding it hard to know what the answer should be to the third scenario when I find it a clearer call with the first two scenarios. I don't find that an odd premise, it's the situation I find us in.

BIWI Wed 17-Apr-13 17:16:51

So you're basically saying that because she is gay you are worried about the situation.

Why do you have an issue with it?

If I have misunderstood, apologies, but I really am having trouble understanding what your problem is here!

Floralnomad Wed 17-Apr-13 17:47:41

The OP is concerned about whether these older women may be predatory lesbians ( if I've understood correctly) and that to me seems a normal concern . When my son was 16 I would have been concerned about him going to a festival and meeting up with older gay men that he'd met on the Internet .

Messandmayhem Wed 17-Apr-13 18:10:31

There are loads of potential situations though. If she were straight, and she were meeting up with women, those women could still be lesbians. They could still be predatory. If she were meeting guys, they could be gay, the could be in relationships, they could be straight, single and perfect gentlemen.

The likelihood of anything untoward happening is small, in my opinion, even in a heterosexual scenario.

I'm actually a bit confused as to why you would prevent a 16 year old from meeting up with boys. Surely that's how dating works? At 16 I would have DREAMT of dating any of the idiots from school.

BIWI Wed 17-Apr-13 18:28:40

But if that's the case, Floralnomad, that's hugely assumptive, and actually not far off being homophobic. Why, just because someone is a) older and b) lesbian or gay would they be predatory?

WishIdbeenatigermum Wed 17-Apr-13 18:41:05

Cazlit, If she were heterosexual and was going to a concert with a bunch of late teen girls she'd met on the Internet, she'd probably be going.
I have dds the same age and I wouldn't let them meet up far from home at a concert with anyone they'd not met IRL...
I know the concert you're talking about and it sounds awesome- I'm trying to get the funding together to take a group (I work with disadvantaged young women) Could you go with her- do you have other dds, nieces friend's dds who would go?

Floralnomad Wed 17-Apr-13 19:23:41

I'm not saying they are I'm saying that's the concern ,and as the very happy mother of a gay man I'm definitely not homophobic ,infact I was extolling the virtues of having a gay son to a friend this afternoon! However had my son at 16 been meeting what is in effect men that he knew nothing about apart from chatting on the Internet I would reserve the right to be concerned . As I would if it was my 16 yr old daughter meeting up with 19/20 yr old men that she only knew from Internet chats . I think any parent of a 16 yr old would find that a normal concern . Indeed if someone posted on here that their 16 yr old daughter was going to a festival and meeting up with 19/20 yr old men that she had met on the Internet I don't think many people would be saying what are you worried about . However everyone to their own and we all bring our children up differently .

Cazlit Wed 17-Apr-13 19:31:54

Yeah.maybe a couple of my girlfriends and I should go too, not hang out with her , she wouldn't want that, but enjoy the event and be there to take her home at the end. Good idea. Oh yeah, but I forgot, she isn't going cos she lied about her exam dates! May be I should just go without hersmile

BIWI, there is absolutely nothing homophobic in this thread. Floralnomad is right to say what she said. I do wonder why 19/20 year old women are talking to my daughter at 1am on a Saturday morning when they could be hanging out with friends there own age in their own country. When I was 19/20 I would have thought a 16 year old girl a ridiculous waste of my time. When I know these girls are gay and want to meet my daughter at gigs why shouldn't I wonder if they might exhibit predatory behaviour towards her just like some guys might?

BIWI Wed 17-Apr-13 20:06:35

But they are only 3 or 4 years older than her! What's the issue with that?

flow4 Wed 17-Apr-13 20:36:24

Cazlit, I am a bit confused about a crucial detail... Has your DD ('dear daughter'!) met these women before or not?

If so, I think it's fine. If you trust her instincts, she'll already have made her judgements about them, and wouldn't want to go if she felt uncomfortable.

If not, I don't think it's OK, and I think that has nothing to do with sexuality. The women may be exactly what they seem, but they may not be safe company for a 16 year old. Or worse, people who are apparently 19 yo friendly lesbians on the internet, may turn out to be 49yo distinctly creepy men in RL. I am not being a DM old fogey here - I have internet dated myself - and mostly it has been fine - but I have had a couple of dodgy experiences, and it has been enough to make me unwilling to want a 16yo to take the risk.

Cazlit Wed 17-Apr-13 20:50:07

Hi flow4. She hasn't met them but, as I have said , she has seen and spoken to them,they have Skyped, so identified as youngish and female. I've spoken to one of them and she was utterly charming. When she sent my DD a mix tape she wrote a letter to me too. She comes alive when she is 'with 'them. I am struggling with ambivalence, half of me says she should go the other half says no.

We are thinking on it tonight.

flow4 Wed 17-Apr-13 21:07:57

Well then, if you and she have 'met' them, I think you can relax. smile

If one of these young women makes a pass at your DD, it works exactly the same way as it would if a boy made a pass. If your DD is interested, she responds; and if she isn't, she doesn't. It is exactly as easy to say "No thanks, I'm not interested" to a woman as to a man. Honestly. smile

FWIW, I am not a lesbian myself, but I have many lesbian friends, and have had since about your daughter's age. I'm finding the idea of a 'predatory lesbian' rather odd. 'Predatory' is a difficult word to define, but to my mind, it implies someone who might actually be dangerous, rather than someone who might flirt or make a pass. A man 5 years older than a 16 year old girl might be a genuine physical threat, but a woman 5 years older is unlikely to be, unless your DD is very small...

caroldecker Wed 17-Apr-13 21:15:50

agree with flow, I would be worried about pregnancy or rape/abuse. This seems significantly less likely in this scenario, so would let her go - although I do know some predatory lesbians myself

I wouldn't let dd meet up with older teenagers that she doesn't know in real life - that age gap is too big and a younger teenager may not know how to say no to drinking, drugs, sex.

With regards to sleepovers I would let her girlfriend stay over once I knew she was ready for a sexual relationship. I wouldn't if it was a boy - dont give a toss about double standards here, I would be more concerned about pregnancy with a boy. She already has girls as friends that I like that have slept over. Frankly I just don't want teenage boys in the house, teenage girls I know, fine.

spottyparrot Wed 17-Apr-13 21:23:50

I don't think you need the same rules as for heterosexual relationships for teenagers because there is no risk of pregnancy. So sleepovers with similarly aged girl fine IMO. However, meeting random strangers off the Internet is a whole different issue which has nothing to do with sexuality. I wouldn't be happy with that, unless someone can chaperone.

rhetorician Wed 17-Apr-13 21:28:53

I am gay, and old enough to be predatory...seriously though, I can't add much to being lesbian and 16 as I didn't really know I was at that age, or certainly had none of the supports/ confidence to be out at that age. So that's really positive. Of course lesbians can be predatory, exploitative, manipulative just as anyone else can. When I was younger, there were often older lesbians around at the very very few and rather secretive venues where you could meet other women, and whilst most of them were fine, there were a few leery ones. But they never did anything, and were mostly rather pathetic and sad, at least in my 23 year old view. I did think things have changed a lot, and I think my concerns would be about meeting up with people she only knows online. I don't think being gay comes into really. Your rules are about her safety and those rules stand. You can't assume that lesbians will be nicer to your daughter than boys, although the ways in which they might be nasty/unpleasant are less driven by testosterone, masculine self image etc...

Gay40 Wed 17-Apr-13 21:29:29

There are predatory lesbians...there are predatory people in every strand of life, but it sounds like you've got everything covered in your conversations with her. I wouldn't worry too much. Same rules apply with safety, keeping in touch etc.
Also, lesbian girl A and lesbian girl B are not necessarily attracted to each other. I can't say the same for our male counterparts.

rhetorician Wed 17-Apr-13 21:37:15

Wot gay40 said.

OrangeFootedScrubfowl Wed 17-Apr-13 22:12:25

Why shouldn't a 19 year old find a 16 year old interesting in a platonic way though? Not all 19 year olds will dismiss all 16 year olds as a waste of time. Especially on the internet where you usually get to know people before thinking about their appearance, age, their... 'status' I suppose.

Devora Wed 17-Apr-13 22:29:01

Another gay mother here, but that doesn't give me special insight and I'm not at all sure how to reply to this, OP. It depends: largely on your dd's maturity and your ability to trust her choices and judgements.

I could say that lesbians are, IME, generally less predatory than men. And that would be true. But also irrelevant because without doubt some lesbians are predatory and some are just horrible people.

I could say that some lesbians do take young lesbians under their wing, looking after/out for them in a non-sexual way. I remember befriending a 14 year old gay girl when I was 20. She slept in my bed a couple of times, when she got stuck out late and couldn't get home. I never touched her, of course: she was 14. But that doesn't give you any guarantees either.

I agree with others that you can't stop the kind of normal social contacts girls have with each other because there is a chance of sexual activity. But you can have the usual rules about meeting up with strangers, meeting with older people etc.

Cazlit Thu 18-Apr-13 10:29:55

Thank you so much for these most recent posts, they are really helpful. Devora, it's interesting what you say about older lesbians taking younger ones under their wing. I do get a sense that my DD is getting a lot of emotional support from these older lesbians that she has met on-line. I think is is fantastic that she is able to be so open and confident in her sexuality at her age. When I was in my late teens it was the height of the AIDS panic and section 28 was being dreamt up in parliament. What a difficult time that must have been to be a gay teenager.

I am generally very approving of her internet relationships, but I hear all the concerns about internet safety. I think my DD has approached this in a mature and safe way so far, I know all about it for a start, but if we change our minds and she does go I think there will be some discreet chaperoning going on , maybe a friend and I will get tickets too, so we can take her and collect her or go for a meal in Twickenham for the same reason.

orangefootedscrubfowl I think you're right, that a 19 year old might find a 16 year old interesting in a platonic way, but in my day social circles were so small you were less likely to meet people you clicked with even if they were the same age as you, it is the internet that has closed age gaps by bringing so many more people to the party.

Thanks also to those of you that covered the 'double standard' issue. I think this is one of the biggest things that has been bothering me. If she wanted to go out with a group of older boys I am sorry to say I would have different standards because of risk of pregnancy and std from unplanned sex. But there it is. I can't operate the same rules with same sex relationships because now that the girls are the boys, so to speak, and as all her relationships are with girls, this would mean far too much 'policing' of relationships that have no need of policing at all.

People are right, I will use my judgement, speak to my DD and I will get a feel as to whether her friends are goodens or badens regardless of their age, sex or sexuality.

Enjoy your day everyone.

Devora Thu 18-Apr-13 19:07:08

Hey, I live a stone's throw from Twickenham. Tell her if there's any funny stuff she's to ring me and I'll be down there in ten minutes to sort them out [scary older lesbian emoticon] grin

sashh Fri 19-Apr-13 05:58:56

but I just wonder if because they are both girls and there is no risk of unwanted pregnancy, and less risk of STD that we are being less vigilant than we would be if it were a boy that she was having over.

Nail, head, hit on.

Lets face it most parents don't want a teenage pregnancy and that's why they impose rules about not having boys stay over.

You sound incredibly sensible and so does she and you also seem to have a good relationship.

Cazlit Fri 19-Apr-13 09:13:38

Thanks, Devora. sashh. You just want them to not get hurt, or out of their depth, don't you, but you want them to have fun... and my, isn't it easy to forget the merry dance you weaved around your own mum at that age?

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