parents

'My son is gay, and finding out was the hardest parenting moment of my life.'

Yesterday, I confirmed in my mind that my young son is gay. It was one of the hardest parenting moments of my life, but not because he is gay…

As we were in the car just about to go out, my 11 year old son asked me if I could wait a minute before driving out of the garage as he was using our home wifi to download an app on his iPod. I grabbed his iPod to check the progress of the download and determine for myself just how long ‘waiting a minute’ would take.

That’s when I saw it, the first one.

A guy in his undies sending my son a message on Kik (an instant messaging app I hadn’t heard of before yesterday). My heart skipped as I clicked to read the message in full and that’s when the real horror began.

Numerous images of erect penises awaited me. I scrolled down and found even more incredibly graphic images sent to and FROM my son! I felt like someone had cracked my chest open while I was awake.

My first reaction was to get quietly out of the car with the iPod and go inside to put it away somewhere. When I returned to the car seconds later without the iPod and my son asked where it was, I told him he couldn’t have it back.

Watch Mamamia staff reveal moments where they felt like bad mothers (post continues after video).

I needed time to think.

At this point, my son’s world fell apart as he realised that I had seen something on his iPod that I wasn’t happy about.

His face went white as it sunk in what had just happened.

The next half an hour was awful, one of those horrible times when parenting is so hard – when you don’t know what to do or say, how to help your kids, how to be angry, worried, caring and supportive all at once.

My son stormed out of the car and wouldn’t stop for me to talk to him. Out to the backyard, into the shed, around the whole yard, back into his bedroom.

He screamed, yelled… I just wanted to help him. I tried to be as calm as possible as I didn’t know what his biggest issue was: was he worried about having gay feelings or was it embarrassment about the fact that I had seen the messages he had sent?

This was a big moment for me, as I have assumed since he was little that he would grow up to be gay.

My ex-husband and I have always tried to talk about openly and positively about gay people and gay rights issues so that he would feel comfortable about coming out to us when the time was right.

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I wanted him to know that I (and everyone in the family) was okay if he was gay. I told him this and to my surprise, he denied it and said he wasn’t gay.

But the worst part wasn’t our awkward exchange – it was how easy it was for my son to access random people over the internet who were displaying nude and semi nude photos of themselves. Often… on seemingly harmless apps like Instagram.

sad boy in room istock
issues so that he would feel comfortable about coming out to us when the time was right. I wanted him to know that I (and everyone in the family) was okay if he was gay. (Image via iStock)

I thought that we had appropriate rules in place by not allowing him to post any photos of himself on social media but as it turns out, there were dangers that I hadn’t even considered. My son was initiating contact with random men. He even took a photo of himself in his undies and sent it to a man who had asked him to.

Once I sat down and went through every inch of his iPod, I was so mad. I sent messages to a number of men he had been in contact with, telling them to “F*@k off and leave my 11 year old son alone”. I then did a really stupid thing as I sat with tears streaming down my face: I deleted everything. I didn’t want to look at it anymore.

My partner and ex-husband were both disappointed that this meant we wouldn’t be able to go to the police about what had happened. My next question is why… why would my young son choose to initiate contact with random strangers in a sexual way? I know that thinking about sex and your sexuality is a normal thing as you grow up, but this is so scary and dangerous.

We have just begun a new school year and my ex-husband and I have vowed to try again to introduce our son into an activity that he can get excited about and will help to increase his self confidence and self esteem – whether it be sport or music or something else.

We have also taken his iPod away and will return it to him at a later date with only music and limited games.

Please think twice about allowing your young children freedom to access social media applications like Kik and Instagram. One positive I take away from our experience is having an early wake up call to the dangers of the social media world that we all live in.

The writer of this post is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous.

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