By Alicia Rice
Q: I’m a 30-something woman who is reluctant to get my nose pierced because my mother has such strong, negative views on it. It’s ridiculous, but I don’t want her to be angry. Thoughts? — Mama’s Girl
A: Dear Mama’s Girl,
If you’re still basing decisions such as these on what your parent thinks, you may want to look into signs of codependency or enmeshment. You’re an adult woman who can make such decisions for herself, regardless of what your mother thinks. If you don’t, you’re living her life instead of your own.
If the thought of a nose piercing is appealing, by all means, make yourself happy. If your mom tries to engage you about it, tell her kindly and neutrally that you understand how she feels, but it’s something that you like and it’s your decision alone to make. If you wish to keep the comments down when you see her, you might consider not wearing jewelry in your nose when you visit, so that it doesn’t needlessly trigger her which might make your visits more pleasurable.
Q: My 23-year-old daughter recently revealed that she’s attracted to both males and females. I didn’t raise her like this. I want to get over my anger and disappointment. Can you help? — Beside Myself
A: Dear Beside Myself,
My counsel stands outside of religious concerns. It’s my opinion that we can’t raise children up in their attraction or sexuality. Coincidentally, we can shame them into pretending to be something else under the shadow of our authority and strongly expressed beliefs, especially when accompanied by the instillation of fear. These tactics work only temporarily until they are old enough to go out into the world to freely express who they are separate from what we expect them to be.
I see sexuality as a spectrum that can’t easily be labeled and put into a box. Some people feel that sexuality is a choice, especially when it lies outside of the more traditional roles of male and female coupling. In those circumstances, I often ask, “At what age did you make the conscious ‘choice’ to be heterosexual?” The majority would answer that it wasn’t a ‘choice.’ They were just attracted to who they were attracted to—often from a very young age. This is the case with those sexually attracted to others outside the typical binary options, although sex can also be entered into as a form of experimentation.
There’s nothing we can actually do about who our adult children are drawn to, unless we’re willing to try to control and manipulate them to do things that make us feel more comfortable. It’s helpful when we can stand in neutral curiosity in an attempt to understand them outside of our sense of what’s right. We don’t have to agree, but it does mean that we honor their ability to live their lives as they see fit. Standing in unconditional love helps to maintain our connection with our children as they won’t feel the need to disconnect from our questions, judgment and potential lack of acceptance by living a secret life which can be quite painful.
This isn’t all about her; it’s also about you. Your energy can be well spent excavating where your base pain and objections are to her sense of sexuality by asking yourself some questions. Do you feel that her sexuality reflects poorly on you? Are you ashamed of what others might think? What other unconscious thoughts do you have? This is your opportunity to be accountable for your own thoughts and feelings, instead of projecting upon her that she’s doing something wrong because it brings
Psychology Today states that young people who are questioning their sexuality are eight times more likely to commit suicide if their parents reject them. It is of utmost importance that we stand by them while working to address our own issues internally. Our disappointment with their sexuality is about us, not them. This is where we get to examine our unrealized expectations because we can’t be disappointed unless there was something specific that we expected. Our children’s sexuality doesn’t define them, but it may mean that we have some valid mourning to do for unrealized expectations of who they might grow up to be.
One of the greatest gifts that parents can give to their children is unconditional love and acceptance. It’s even more of a gift to them when they see us consciously working towards the goal of being there and understanding them in the midst of our own internal struggles.
Alecia Rice integrates higher concepts with wisdom to bring forth balance, perspective and clarity. She’s a personal advisor, speaker and gatherer of women. For perspective on life issues, you’re invited to text questions and comments to 681-321-1109. Discussions continue at @Ask Alecia on Facebook.