My son/daughter told me that he/she is asexual. But what does that mean?
An asexual individual is a person who does not feel sexual attraction or has no interest in sexual activity with another person. It is not a disease or psychological disorder, it is just one of the manifestations of human sexuality.
Why did he/she have to tell me? I would have preferred not to know.
Your child is reaching out to you for support. You are their caretaker. Since birth, you have been the one on whom they have depended on for security and reassurance. The fact that they trust you with such personal knowledge of themselves shows that they believe you are capable of understanding and supporting them. Asexuals often struggle with deep levels of soul-searching and confusion due to the public’s lack of information about the orientation. At such times they may need the support of you, their parent, more than ever.
I suspect that my son (daughter) is asexual. How can I confirm this suspicion?
The majority of asexual individuals — due to lack of awareness on the issue — do not know they are asexual. This usually generates various internal conflicts. An asexual individual is pressured to behave and have feelings that are not consistent with what he or she really is, and not knowing that there are others with similar experiences, they live an internal conflict between trying to understand how their sexuality is constructed and trying to meet society’s expectations. The first step would be to talk to your child about the existence of asexuality to inform them of the existence of this marginalized sexual orientation. However, it is not because the person does not manifest interest in love relationships or sex that he/she will be asexual. The conversation on the subject should therefore happen gently not to frighten or offend the person.
If my child is asexual, would it be more appropriate to take him/her to a specialist?
Asexuality is not a disease or a manifestation of a psychological disorder. It’s not bad, though, for an asexual individual to look for an expert to talk about the issue. However, due to the fact that the study of asexuality is somewhat new, there are only a handful of experts who are knowledgeable on the subject, which generates several cases of asexual individuals seeking experts and receiving grossly inadequate attention due to lack of professional preparation.
Did I do something wrong as a parent to cause this?
Absolutely not. As said before, an individual’s sexuality is a very complex issue. It’s highly unlikely how you raised them or a single incident in their lives single-handedly caused them to become asexual.
Does this mean they are incapable of love?
Hardly. Many asexuals experience romantic and affectionate feelings towards others. Your child may be uninterested in seeking out a sexual relationship, but that doesn’t mean they are misanthropic. They are capable of forming very close bonds with friends, and may even enter into a non-sexual relationship one day.
On the other hand, they could be completely uninterested in a romantic relationship and focus on platonic bonds. Do not pressure your child into “finding the right person.” Although they might go about looking for love in a completely different way, they are capable of the same feelings of compassion and devotion as anyone else – just expressed in a different way.
Should we tell the family/neighbours/teachers/etc.? What will other people think?
It is advisable not to tell anyone without your child’s permission. It is unnecessary to tell non-family members and acquaintances. Your child will choose which family members and friends they are comfortable with telling.
How can my child have an opinion about this if he/she has never tried it?
Asexuals are not compelled to form sexual relationships. If you already lack the compulsion, it is doubtful trying it will change the issue at hand. Forcing someone to go against their nature simply to “prove themselves” is very dangerous. If your child one day experiments with sexual relationships, it will be at their own leisure.
Does this mean my child will hate or look down upon people who have sex?
This sort of attitude among asexuals is thankfully very rare. While your child may be confused or alienated by their peers’ talk of sexual conquest, this is to be expected from someone experiencing non-sexuality. It is only another issue they may come to you for support with. It is doubtful they will grow to hate the people they considered friends beforehand.
Sex is a natural part of existence. What is my child ashamed or afraid of?
Nothing. Many asexuals are even quite liberal in their views towards sex. It is not that your child is afraid or ashamed of sexual intimacy; they simply have no desire for it. A person who has no interest in trying a certain food, for example, is not afraid of the food — they are merely not compelled to try the food.
Is there any way that my son/daughter can no longer be asexual so that he/she will get married and have children?
Like other sexual orientations, asexuality cannot be “treated” or changed. But despite this, asexuality does not prevent a person from getting married and have children. Some asexual individuals have an interest in romantic relationships and some also have interest in having children, biological or not. However, this is an individual choice that depends only on them. Regardless of being asexual or not, the person may or may not get married and have children, and it does not directly affect the pursuit of happiness, for marriage and family are not the only ways to reach happiness. Being happy is something that varies from person to person, and everyone has their own path to follow to reach this goal.
What can I do to help?
When revealing their asexuality to parents, asexual individuals seek to be honest, revealing their condition, and the help they are seeking from parents is their support. In a heteronormative society where being sexual is a kind of implicit imperative rule, it can be extremely difficult to be asexual. Therefore, the support of those who are close, especially parents, is essential for the asexual individual to feel welcome and have the strength and courage to face whatever is necessary in the everyday life. But how do you support an asexual child? Respecting their sexuality, not regarding it as an abnormality or disease and welcome them in all their differences are two key steps for the support to solidify and, you can be sure, father or mother, that this support makes great difference in the construction of self-acceptance and happiness of the asexual son or daughter.