Q: Recently we took our 10-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son to an ice skating extravaganza. They loved the athletes. At one point my daughter turned to me and said, "I want to marry that skater when I grow up." I smiled and replied, "Maybe you can get to do something like that." A few minutes later my son pointed to a another male skater, who had just executed a flawless quad, and said, "When I grow up I want to marry him." I sat there stunned and could not think of a thing to say. Do you think my son is gay and knows that already? What would you have said?

A. Do I think your son is gay? I have no idea. He may be or not. Some children know they are different as early as age two or three or four. If your son is experiencing feelings of attraction to members of his own sex at age eight, it can either portend a homosexual orientation, which will predominate as he grows older, or perhaps simply a "phase" which will pass as he discovers the opposite sex.

What would I have said? I hope it would have been as wise as another mother's response to a similar statement by her six-year-old son. She smiled down at him and said, "If that's what you want to do when you grow up, I hope that option will be available." End of discussion. In this case, her son did not turn out to be gay but he continued to have a great deal of admiration for the accomplishments of world-class male athletes.

I hope that you avoid over-reacting to anything your son might say such as, "When I grow up I am going to be a bull-rider (or circus clown, or space astronaut, or fire fighter, or chef, or painter, or actor, or hair-dresser, or any number of other options). And I hope you love him unconditionally for who he is innately and simply because he exists.