Dear Abby: Daughter seems depressed after coming out

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Dear Abby: Our college-age daughter has been withdrawn and depressed for some time. During a recent visit, after asking her several times what was wrong, encouraging her to continue counseling and expressing general concern for her, I finally asked her (again) if she was gay.

She broke down and said she was. She seems conflicted by it, relieved we didn’t disown her (she has friends whose parents dropped them), but she still seems very distant. I thought once the burden of coming out was off her shoulders she would be happier, but she barely spoke to us the last day she was here. We both told her we love her, hugged her and, although shocked by her revelation, we are trying to come to terms with her being gay.

We are not perfect but feel we are doing all we can. She still seems depressed and withdrawn. What can we do to help her? I am more upset about her shutting us out than her being gay. I have been in tears thinking our daughter dropped us and doesn’t want us around. She doesn’t want the rest of the family to know yet. This is confusing for us, too. Help!

— Hurting For Our Daughter

Dear Hurting: Because someone comes out to a parent does not mean that all the person’s problems magically disappear. Your daughter may suffer from chronic depression that has nothing to do with her sexual orientation. That you have encouraged her to continue with counseling is appropriate. Badgering her to come out to you may have been less so.

Your daughter will have to find her own way in the journey to explore and accept who she is. Please allow her the space to do that without obsessing over the thought that she has “dropped” you.

And do NOT inform the family about what she told you! Respect her privacy. She should have the right to disclose the information in her own time if she chooses.

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