What Is Asexuality?
Asexuality is essentially the "None of the Above" option for sexual orientation. There's a good chance you've never heard of it before, but don't worry. It's not a problem. It's not a disease, it's not a disorder, it's not something your child is getting involved with to "rebel" against you. Asexuality isn't something that needs to be "fixed" or "cured". It's just a part of who they are. That's all.
Asexuality is not really all that rare. One study says that at least one percent of people are asexual. That means that in the United States, there are more people who are asexual than who live in Chicago, the third largest city in the country. It's not better known because it has only been recently that people have started to come together and talk about how they feel. Even today, many people who are asexual do not even know that there is a word that describes how they feel.
It's important to understand that nothing made your child this way. Asexuality is not the result of some sort of parenting decision you've made. There is nothing you could have done to make them asexual, and there's also nothing you can do to make them stop being asexual, either. Also, this is not something that your child chose to become. Your child naturally feels this way, and they have adopted the word "asexual" as a description of those feelings.
What Should I Do?
- Listen to your child. They know more about this than you do.
- Try to understand. It doesn't all have to make sense right away, but what's important is that you make an effort to understand.
- Do research. If you don't understand something, or have questions you don't feel comfortable asking your child, or if you simply want to know more, then spend some time to look up what you want to know.
- Treat asexuality with respect. Asexuality is not imaginary, it's not a "teenage thing", it's not a punchline. It's an integral part of your child's identity. If you disrespect asexuality, you're disrespecting your child.
- Accept them. This is important to them, and it's important for them to know you care.
- And most importantly: Love them.
What Shouldn't I Do?
- Don't get angry. There's nothing to get angry about. Getting angry over your child being asexual is like getting angry that your child wears size 9 shoes or has brown eyes. Getting angry about it will only alienate your child.
- Don't try to "fix" it. There's nothing to "fix". The APA recognizes asexuality as a valid orientation in the DSM-5. Sending your child to a therapist to "cure" their asexuality would, at best, be a complete waste of money, and, at worst, be a horrifying, traumatic experience.
- Don't try to convince them that they're wrong. Trust that your child knows how they feel and what they're thinking.
- Don't dismiss it. If your child says that they're asexual, that means it's important to them. Brushing it off will tell your child that you don't care.
- Don't "forget" about it. If your child has to remind you that they're asexual at some point down the line, it shows them that you're not interested in their life. You don't have to remember all the terminology and all the specific details, but you do have to remember that they are asexual and what that means.
- Don't tell anyone else without your child's permission. Your child has trusted you with this information. There may be other people that they do not trust with this information. Don't betray your child's trust by telling other people about it.
Does This Mean My Child Won't...
- ...Be Happy? You fear that your child will never be able to be happy because they're asexual, but there's nothing about asexuality that prevents someone from being happy. Besides, it's not like sex or sexual attraction are the only sources of happiness in the world. (And even if they weren't asexual, that's no guarantee of happiness, anyway.)
- ...Get Married? You fear that your child might never get married or might end up alone, but there's nothing about asexuality that prevents them finding that special someone. Besides, maybe they're fine with remaining single forever anyway. (And even if they weren't asexual, that's no guarantee that they'd end up getting married, anyway.)
- ...Have Kids? You fear that your child might never have kids of their own, but there's nothing about asexuality that prevents them from having children. Besides, maybe they've never wanted to be a parent anyway. (And even if they weren't asexual, that's no guarantee that they'd end up having kids, anyway.)
- ...Feel The Joy Of Sex? You fear that your child might never experience the joy of sex, but maybe sex isn't something they're interested in or something they would find joyful. (And even if they weren't asexual, that's no guarantee that they'd end up enjoying sex, anyway.)