Do I keep honesty in my marriage or keep a secret for my teenager to keep her trust?

My almost 13 year old daughter was outed to me by her younger siblings as being bisexual. She doesn’t want to make a big deal of it and doesn’t want her dad to know. I was surprised but supportive and think he will be, if not supportive, at least ambivalent. I have encouraged her to talk to him and offered therapy if she wants/needs it. But she doesn't want him to know, didn’t want me to know and doesn’t want to continue talking about it as she is embarrassed. I want to keep her “secret” to make sure she will continue to trust me but feel I owe it to my husband to be honest and allow him to know what is going on. I am concerned that she will need the support of us both, especially as she is navigating normal teenage problems on top of this and don’t want to lose her trust by revealing what she isn’t ready to talk about. What should I do?
Asked by Mainelady33
Answered
12/05/2021

As a mom of 4 girls ages 11-24 and a therapist who works with middle and high school students, I feel there is no perfect answer. From a therapist's perspective I always want to engage students and build relationships so that they have at least one trusted adult in their circle. As a parent you have to sometimes play both sides of being a trusted individual to your spouse and your child, but ultimately I do feel that this is your child's story and they should be in charge of telling in to whom they want, when they want. I do find it unfortunate that her siblings "outed" her to you without allowing her the opportunity to find her voice and come to you on her own. 

I believe that a person's story is theirs to tell, no matter the age. Now if there were safety concerns around that situation, then that would be a different story and for sure the control of when they tell should be taken away, but I am not hearing that. This also sounds like an opportunity for growth in the relationship that you have with your child. I also do think that it is always best to have both parents on board, as long as its safe to do so, but that may be that the information is given to both parents at different times. I would work hard with my child to explore the reasons why she doesn't want her father to know and then to try to encourage her that honesty with both of you is the best policy. There may be many reasons that she is not ready to tell him, and that is okay. The support that she gets from you, may be just what she needs to help make the decision to tell him. 

In the bigger picture, it is best that she has at least one parent that is aware and that she knows that she can trust you with her most important information. I think that if she knows she can trust you with this, that it will help her to come to you with other concerns, questions or conflicts that may come in the future. And also if she can see that you are understanding and supportive, it may lead her to believe the same in him. I would also add that as a female talking to you father about any sexuality or things related to gender can be difficult, so patience and respect is an asset.