Dear ADDitude

My Son Thinks He’s Gay

“My 16-year-old son is severely lacking social skills. He has no friends, makes inappropriate, embarrassing comments and has no athletic interests. Recently, he has been chatting online to a teenager in the UK. The problem is that now my son thinks that he is gay like the teen. Should I let him continue this interchange or cut it off?”

A boy with ADHD on the computer, parents not limiting his screen time at all
Boy on computer in the dark with coffee cup

Rather than emphasizing whether or not to try to cut off his interchange – there is, after all, nothing wrong with being gay – a more important, longer-term question would be, “How can I help him improve his social skills?”

Social competence is one of the primary determinants of adult success. Many with poor social skills find the Internet a great source of social interaction because it provides access to a wide range of people, and you have the ability to take your time to formulate responses. Some also find comfort in the acceptance they find on the net – particularly young LGBT people who struggle to feel accepted in their day-to-day lives.

I recommend that you try to identify the social skills that he is lacking and work with him on gaining the needed skills or obtain the help of a psychologist or coach to help him improve his social skills. He may also benefit from the help of a psychologist in sorting out his social difficulties and his questions regarding his sexual orientation.

By improving his social skills, he would be able to open a wider range of options for friends. This strategy would hopefully provide a long-term solution, whether or not he continues to identify as gay.

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