Knowledgeability Clarity of Response Timeliness Politeness
10 10 10 10
Comment: It was an answer that was good for me, but I’m not so sure it was good for my son. I need to think about it from his perspective for a bit, but I’m very glad I wrote and she answered.
Subject: Single Mother/Feminine Son
Question: Hi Kay,
I’m the single mother of a teenage boy, who I believe wants to be a girl. My son is 14. His father and I divorced when he was 5. He moved out of state four years ago and the only contact we have with him is the child support checks he sends. He has a new family and we are his past.
My son and I have also moved. And I’ve been thinking that this could maybe a fresh start for both of us, but I’m having trouble taking the first step and talking to him about it.
My son has always been a little on the feminine side but I told myself it wasn’t that unusual.
I stopped telling myself that when he was 12. That was the first time I caught him wearing my clothes and smoking my cigarettes. I left him in the house alone while I went shopping. When I came home, I found him wearing my nightgown, laying in my bed, and smoking a cigarette while masturbating. It was very traumatic for both of us and I didn’t handle it very well. I screamed. I cried and I called him some very bad names that I immediately regretted and couldn’t take back. I punished him for smoking and I punished him for being a “pervert”. That is just one of the names I called him. I don’t care to repeat the other things I said, even though we will both remember them for the rest of our lives.
I’ve caught him three times since then wearing my clothes and smoking my cigarettes. I’ve found web sites on our computer that he has visited that have to do with boys becoming girls and women smoking. I’ve been more calm about catching him but I’ve always punished him. Each time he tells me he’s sorry and he’s never going to do it again. The last time I caught him was last week, but I didn’t say anything. I was unpacking boxes and I found some of my panties, a bra, a slip and a pack of Virginia Slims cigarettes. I don’t know where he got the cigarettes because I smoke Benson & Hedges. The other stuff was mine. I just pretended like I didn’t see them and moved on to another box. I didn’t say any thing about it.
Kay, I think I’m ready to accept that my son is both a woman and a smoker, like me, but after all that’s happened between us, I don’t know how to start the conversation that will ultimately lead to meeting my new daughter. So I could really use your help.
Answer: Dear Anonymous:
First of all stop beating yourself up. You of course need to apologize for losing it with him however you are only human and it isn’t like children come with an instruction manual at birth.
Second, it sounds like your son is struggling with his sexual identity. He is going to need more than just your okay on this issue. This is not my area of expertise however here is what I would suggest.
Get in touch with a famly counselor who has experience dealing with teens who are struggling with sexual identity issues.
Next there is nothing wrong with maintaining your boundaries. Regardless of whether it was my son or my daughter they were not allowed to violate my personal space. My clothes and my room were off limits. Masturbation is something teens need to do in the privacy of their own bedrooms. Work on the boundary issues as it is especially important in families without the other parent. It is all to easy for a child to step into an adult role they cannot handle.
Smoking is another issue. First of all he is only 14. It is illegal for him to smoke and it is not good parenting for you to allow him to smoke in your house or anywhere else. He needs to know regardless of whatever other issues and yes you will be there to support him, underage smoking is NOT acceptable behavior. Only one of you is the adult and the other is still underage.
Again, please do find a good, qualified, experienced family counselor to assist you and your son with his sexual identity crisis. And by all means do open the door of communication by letting him know you love him no matter what the outcome.
Hope this helps sort things out.
M Kay Keller