Ask the Experts

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?”

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.