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Mom Worries After Her 9-Year-Old Daughter Comes Out To Her — 'Isn't She A Bit Young?'

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two young girls hold hands together outside

If your young child comes out to you about their sexuality, your first thought might be to question if it’s just a phase. You might believe they’re too young to understand sexuality, or maybe they’re just confused about themselves. 

But think back to your very first crush you can recall. How old were you? I’d guess you were still somewhere under 10, freshly navigating your young heart’s emotional desire. In fact, experts say most kids begin developing crushes as young as five years old.

The truth is, no child is ever too young to develop a crush, but parents tend to believe so if their crush is on someone of the same sex. If your child is questioning their sexuality before the ripe age of 10, this may indicate they have a better understanding of their identity than you think.

A mom asked Reddit users for advice after her 9-year-old daughter came out to her.

In the r/Parenting Reddit post, the mother shared a conversation she had with her daughter, who said she had something she wanted to tell her mom. 

“You know how people can like boys or girls? Well, I like girls,” the little girl shared.

Mom Worries After Her 9-Year-Old Daughter Comes Out To HerPhoto: fizkes / Canva Pro

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The mom responded with empathy and understanding, saying “There’s nothing wrong with that. People love who they love. You are still very young so this may or may not change as you get older and it’s okay either way.”

“At this time you aren’t even close to old enough to date anyone,” the mom added to her daughter. “But I appreciate you telling me and being your true self.”

The mom went on to explain how her daughter opened up about a crush she has on another girl in her class, who also claimed to like girls, although she has a crush on a different girl.

With confusion and uncertainty, the mom expressed that she is fully supportive of her daughter, but is unsure of how to navigate boundaries with other children. She explained how she would usually restrict her daughter from spending time alone with boys, but she doesn’t know how to approach these restrictions now that her daughter has expressed romantic feelings for other girls.

“Of course, I accept my daughter no matter what, but this just seems a little… young?” the mom expressed. “Especially for multiple girls in the class to be saying this.”

Gen Alpha kids are much more exposed to topics of sexuality and identity.

With easy access to any information on the internet, in addition to the fluidity of LGBTQ+ topics in media, today’s generation of kids is more prone to questioning their identities and experimenting from a younger age than previous generations. Because of this, some parents have begun implementing restrictions surrounding what topics should be discussed in classrooms. 

However, this won’t stop children from navigating their emotional desires. While exposure to these topics has surely affected the young generation's impressionable minds, if a child is already questioning, or rather affirming, their sexual orientation from a young age, it is likely coming from a place of self-discovery rather than confusion. 

   

   

While kids do tend to become easily influenced and hop on whatever the latest trends are, expressing feelings for someone of the same sex, and additionally confirming having no attraction to the opposite sex, implies this child has a better understanding of themselves than one might believe. This is largely due to the reduced stigma surrounding LGBTQ+ topics amongst Generation Z’s experiences, which has allowed the younger generations to feel more comfortable and neutral regarding discussion of their sexualities.

Think about it, it doesn’t make much sense for a child to falsely express feelings for the same sex. In fact, research suggests it is much more common for adolescents to pretend to be attracted to the opposite sex, or what many characterize as “hiding in the closet,” because of their fear of facing bullying, harassment, discrimination, and violence.

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Sexuality can be very confusing to navigate, but this does not negate a child’s feelings for someone of the same sex.

What many struggle to understand is that sexuality is a spectrum, rather than a black-and-white grid. No one is ever straight or queer — there is a lot of gray area in between. 

This essentially means that identity and sexuality are complex and fluid, and specific labels and classifications are inaccurate portrayals of the LGBTQ+ community’s experience.

   

   

A girl having a crush on a girl can simply be just that.

The answer to this mother’s question is plain — love is love, and there need not be any confusion to it. 

The mom should continue to support her daughter and, given her daughter’s comfort with confiding in her mom, ask questions surrounding any play dates with other girls. Just because a girl confesses to liking girls romantically does not imply she will like every girl. Set boundaries the same way one would with boys, and seek educational resources to better understand and handle the situation.

   

   

There can be many misconceptions when it comes to gender identity and sexuality, and parents should understand that what’s more harmful than their young children experiencing feelings for the same sex is having no support or guidance from their families, or worse, being shunned or disowned by them.

These reactions from families can cause adolescents to spiral into depressive and suicidal thoughts, believe there is something wrong with them, and struggle to express their authentic selves. This then becomes a lifelong challenge of rewiring their minds to know their worth and embrace themselves, regardless of their parents’ views. 

Yet, all of this can be avoided simply by a parent’s careful reaction to their child’s expression of identity.

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Support your child’s self-expression and guide them through discovering their true selves.

At the end of the day, there’s no harm in letting your children have crushes, so long as they don’t act on them in inappropriate ways. It’s important to educate your children on sexuality topics and allow them to navigate themselves comfortably, while still implementing the same rules to preserve their youth. 

The mom handled the conversation with her daughter admirably, and her daughter is lucky to have a mom who is willing to understand her.

Letting your children discover themselves from a young age shouldn't be cause for concern. In reality, the fact that the daughter is already being given the space to navigate her identity without any pressure indicates she will grow up with a confident understanding of herself and avoid many of the troublesome experiences the LGBTQ+ community has historically faced.

Mom Worries After Her 9-Year-Old Daughter Comes Out To HerPhoto: fizkes / Canva Pro

If your young child feels confident enough to come out to you, treat this experience as a milestone and be open and compassionate with them. Navigating one’s sexuality and identity can be confusing enough, but there is nothing worse for a child coming out to their parents than to be shut down and invalidated. 

Be grateful for your child’s ability to adopt self-reflection and self-awareness from a young age, as this will allow them to come into their identity with much more ease as they get older.

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Francesca Duarte is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team based in Orlando, FL. She covers lifestyle, human-interest, and spirituality topics.