At age 7 my daughter wrote a note to a girl in her class and signed it “Your Secret Admirer.” Is my daughter gay? What should I do?
Many Christian parents might be tempted to assume these attractions are sexual and overreact.
At such a young age, attractions probably aren’t sexual. My daughter had a crush on her friend, but it wasn’t about sensuality. It was about deep admiration, an appreciation for her friend’s fashion choices, and connection with someone who likes the same things she does.
Because parents know the pain many gay people have endured at the hands of Christians, parents may overreact by limiting the friendship or by subtly trying to convince their daughter that she’s not gay.
But these reactions will only serve to stigmatize gay women, lead your daughters to fear close same-sex friendships, teach your daughters that all intimacy is sexual and therefore must be avoided, and show your daughters that you’re not a safe person to tell about their attractions and crushes.
What can parents do instead?
Ask questions (but avoid interrogation). What do you admire about Mikayla (name changed)? What makes her a really good friend? How can you be kind to Mikayla? What are some things you have in common? Be interested in your daughter’s friends/crushes now and foster open communication so that when she does begin to experience sexual feelings she won’t be afraid or ashamed to tell you about those, too.
Don’t mention that your daughter’s crush is out of the ordinary. For young kids, crushes are very common and aren’t rooted in sexual desire. Normalize attractions—we’re all attracted to a variety of people for a variety of reasons (otherwise we wouldn’t have friends at all!). Crushes pass quickly, but shaming words or shock could have a negative impact that lasts for years.
Affirm your daughter’s need for close same-sex friendships. Everyone needs healthy, intimate (not sexual) relationships with people of the same-sex. Teach your daughter about intimacy needs—emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual—and help her seek out healthy relationships with family, friends, and God to meet those needs in healthy ways.
Teach your daughter about God’s wisdom for sexual stewardship. When we teach in theologically accurate and compassionate ways about God’s good design for intimacy, family, Christian marriage, vocational singleness, discernment, sex, and sexuality, our daughters will be able to spot any counterfeit the world offers. Plus, they’ll know that God loves them and has good things for them regardless of who they’re attracted to.
Not sure how to winsomely teach your young daughter about God’s wisdom for her sexual stewardship? Equip has you covered! Join an upcoming virtual Parent Course for twelve hours of training on God’s good designs for marriage, family, singleness, sex, sexuality, and gender.
Do you have an older daughter (age 12+) who has disclosed a crush on a girl? Check out “Kiss the Girl” and the rest of Equip’s Gay Women Series about how pastors and parents can love and minister to LGB Christian girls and women according to a historic sexual ethic.