I am dating a woman who is 19 years younger than myself. She is 28 and I am 47. We have a lot of fun doing things together, but our relationship is strained as I am having a hard time bringing her home to "mom and dad." Her parents are very accepting as they are also from a younger (my) generation so I completely understand them. My parents are in their 70s, hard to talk to about being gay let alone my relationship. I've tried to explain this whole generation gap thing, but she doesn't get it. She thinks I am making her "my dirty little secret." I don't feel this way at all. Any advice?
Brave of you to write me for advice, as I'm not likely to align myself with your thinking on this one. Seems this issue is more about you and your comfort in your own skin, than about your relationship with your partner or the age of your parents.
Sadly, many parents do reject, disown, and condemn their children for acknowledging their homosexuality. I won't sugarcoat that reality. And while you do not describe this as an issue, I have also known many gay men and lesbians who believe it would be "disrespectful" to share knowledge of their sexual orientation with their parents. And many more who simply fear their parent's disapproval, their disappointment.
Lots of us grown children have an unspoken "good boy" and "good girl" contract with our parents. The contract says, in exchange for my (the parents) love, acceptance, approval (and in some cases inheritance), you (the child) just need to be the "good girl/boy" that I raised you to be so that I can feel good about the job I've done as a parent. Anything short of this is not acceptable, and my (the parent) love may be withdrawn and replaced with disappointment, rejection and disapproval.
This is a hard pill to swallow. It is natural to crave the love, approval and appreciation of our parents - no matter how old we are. Unfortunately, in our society, we have a system in place where children are supposed to grow up, find a mate, start a family (with or without children) of their own, and then prioritize this new family so that you can take care of each other, long after your own parents' life cycle ends.
In order to prioritize your new family of choice, it's essential that you place the needs of your adult relationship with your partner above the needs of your parents, siblings, and other members of your family of origin. The relationships that get the most energy, focus and priority are the relationships that will be your strongest.
So my suggestion is that whether or not you choose to tell your parents about your new relationship, if you wish to make this relationship last you will need to prioritize it above your relationship with your parents.
This may involve taking risks. You may have to spend some holidays away from them to conceal your relationship, or you may have avoid phone calls if they call when it's not convenient for you and your partner, or you may have to start asking them to call before stopping by, etc. It gets complicated. Or you may decide it's just easier to be honest.
That's why the truth is usually a better bet. It's not for everyone, and I'm guessing there are readers right now who are sick to their stomach thinking about having to reveal their sexual orientation to their parents.
In a nutshell, prioritize the relationships that are most important to you and move toward a life where who you are, how you feel, and what you believe is safe, accepted and celebrated. And for what it's worth, even those whose parents have rejected them say they would come out again in order to feel the freedom that accompanies living from your truth. There's nothing like the freedom of being true to who you really are.