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Andrew Solomon on ‘making your children feel loved’ and the power of parental listening

LGBTQ Nation

Excerpts from an interview by David Kaufman

“Children are always afraid, especially in their earlier lives, of being a disappointment to their parents,” Solomon, 58, told LGBTQ Nation. “Kids can have the feeling that they may not really be what their parents had wanted, may not be the types of kids their parents can truly understand or are prepared to deal with. I certainly felt quite marginalized as a child. I grew up thinking I’d be lonely, but I’m certainly not lonely now. I feel like I’m woven into the fabric of society.”

… Solomon said LGBTQ children, in particular, may begin to view themselves as different unusually early in their lives. “By age 5 or 6 they may already have articulated to themselves that they feel LGBTQ — that they are unlike other kids.”

“But the key to dealing with this difference is love,” he said. “Making your children feel loved — like they always have a safe haven to return to.”

… “I think many parents have this notion that they’re going to be much better parents to their children than their own parents were to them. They’re going to provide for their kids all of the things that they did not have themselves growing up. … The problem is that parents might not understand that all of the things they wanted or needed as kids can be far different than their own kid’s wants or needs. So the trick is not to provide what you wanted as a kid but what your children absolutely need themselves.”

… “I think many of the traumas that come from growing up LGBT in our society are rooted in the feeling that you are alone. And this specifically comes from feeling like you are different from your parents. … From my many conversations I’ve had with gay young people, the feeling that you are different from your families at such a young age—this specific sort of realization—creates a frightening kind of distance for them, a very scary sort of loneliness.”

(To read the full interview, and other interviews in the Authentic Voices of Pride series,
please visit LGBTQ Nation.)