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My oldest daughter is 19 and told me last halloween that she's bi.

My daughter is amazingly high functioning (mentally, socially, even professionally) but is living at home at the moment because her college is local. After she came out to me I thought about it for a while but decided I simply didn't care.

My wife is pretty old school, i.e. homosexuality is a learned behavior, people can choose, etc. She's also a control freak when it comes to our kids.

What can I do to prepare my wife for my kid telling her that she's dating a woman? At the moment she has no clue (daughter has dated boys in the past) although everyone else in the house knows.

Edit to put in resolution:

About two months after I posted this, my daughter came out of the closet to my wife. No screaming. No throwing her out of the house or her life. Strong disagreement that being bi is a good thing. Sometimes she talks to me about where-did-we-go-wrong.

She's still accepting her as a daughter if not fully as bi, so victory I guess.

Long term it's a process, but I'm reasonably happy with where everyone is now considering the alternatives.

Thank you.

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    Has your wife ever met anyone before that (she knew) was bi? How did she react to them then? – user8671 Nov 16 '18 at 14:21
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    I know with my SO, we've talked about what we'd do if our kid is born with a mental illness or physical deformity or other congenital conditions out of our control. Are these conversations you had with your wife before you started having children? And if so, what was her opinion? How does she feel about conditions that she knows/believes kids are born with? – scohe001 Nov 16 '18 at 14:43
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    Has your daughter consented that you share this information with your wife? If not, you should definitely talk with her first. – zinjaai Nov 16 '18 at 15:54
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    @zinjaai My daughter is definitely hiding this from my wife, and for good reason. I've talked with my kid on how/when/where to break the news to my wife and we don't have good answers yet. One idea is for her to do it as she's walking out the door to go to France for foreign study so she'll be out of the house for months. I'm trying to figure out the best way to minimize damage to everyone's relationships, and at the moment that means saying nothing. – Dark Matter Nov 16 '18 at 16:09
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    Consider consulting Parenting Stack Exchange as well. – Euchris Nov 17 '18 at 21:46
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I am someone who deeply cares about social justice. The other members of my family care less about those things than I do. Now that I am aware of a lot of social issues, I can see things that I didn't see before. This means that, sometimes, when I hear my family talking, I can see that they are not as inclusive and as open-minded as I would want them to be.

Here is what I try to do in my day to day life to open the eyes of my family. It's a long process, and some member of my family are more responsive to it than others, but it's working (even though it's clearly not as fast as I wish it to be).

Lead by example

If you want your wife to be more open to bisexual people, you need to be open yourself but, most of all, you need to show that.

If someone is badmouthing bi people, you need to take a stand and publicly call them out. It's not an easy thing to do but it shows other people where you stand, it shows that you have strong beliefs about that and it might leads other to believe that you have good reason to be so sure of yourself.

If you do it again, and again, and again, at some point, they might join you into thinking that be people are nice, regular, human being.

Normalize the subject

Don't treat this subject as a taboo. Doing so implies that there is, indeed, something wrong about being bi. Instead, talk about it often and casually. For example, if someone assumes someone else sexual orientation, say something like this:

Or they might be gay. Or bi.

You don't need to make a big deal about it. Just treat the fact of being bi as a normal and unsurprising possibility and it might become a normal and unsurprising possibility for the other members of your family.

Share your knowledge

When I'm interested in a subject, I read about it a lot. When doing so, I often find articles who made me say "if only my family read this, I'm sure they would be more tolerant toward X". So, when I find an article like this, I share it with them. A warning though, don't do this too often. If you send them too many articles, they will just stop reading them.

If sharing articles is not a possibility for you, you can also share little facts that will help your wife see bi people in a positive light (or, at least, make her feel bad for them. Like if you talk about LGBT+ people suicide rate). I usually do that during the meal or while we are on the road. You just need to find a time where your wife is open to chitchat/talking.

Warning: If your wife isn't responding well to you sharing those things with her, don't push it too much. If you push too much, your wife might close herself to the subject and you will lose all chance to convince her that bi people don't need to be "fixed".


As a final note, I just want to say that you really need to be patient. I don't think you can get your wife to accept bisexuality before your daughter comes out (because that could take 10, 20, 50, 70 years or more) but I strongly believe that you could, at least, improve things. Even just a little, even if you don't see it.

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As much as I hate to say this, anything you can do to "soften the blow", so to speak, might be entirely ineffective. If your wife is that against the idea, it is probably a much better idea for both you and your daughter if you hold on to the secret until she is out of the house and living on her own.

If she's really a control freak like you say, and she honestly thinks that sexual orientation is a "learned behavior", she will likely think that she can "fix" your daughter, and she will try to do so without hearing your opinion on the matter. I don't think I need to stress how much tension and disaster this could cause for your interpersonal relationships.

If you wait until your daughter is financially and socially independent, then your wife still won't like the news, but she won't have any control over the situation.

Unfortunately, this is a highly volatile situation, and the answer to your question depends on your wife's personality. Nobody on this site knows her better than you do. It comes down to whether your wife values family bonds more than her values. If you honestly think there is a risk of violence or forced "conversion therapy", I would urge you to hold on to the secret.

If you decide it needs to be said, it still depends on her personality to decide how to break the news. Some people would benefit from a metaphorical slap in the face, just laying it on the table straight out. Some people need to be eased into an idea. Without knowing your wife personally, I can't give you a definitive answer on what to do. I don't think any of us can.

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    Good answer but what will be the repercussions when the wife inevitably asks "how long have YOU known about this?". And will those repercussions get worse the longer it takes for the news to come out? This seems like a no-win situation for the husband. – voodoo-burger Nov 20 '18 at 23:23
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    @voodoo-burger Agreed with all of that, but I'm good with making it worse for me but better for my kid. I think "taking bullets for them" is the expression. – Dark Matter Nov 21 '18 at 14:29

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