Tips for parents when their LGBTQ children come out
So your kid just came out to you, now what?
Oct 16, 2017
It’s 2017 and the attitude towards homosexuality, bisexuality, trans and other LGBTQ members is immensely different than it was, say, 30 or 40 years ago. Today’s generation is more welcoming of members of the LGBTQ community and you feel left out. And then, your kid turns out to actually be a member of this community that you don’t fully understand yet. Suddenly, you feel like there’s something you missed, like the world turned upside down and it’s left you unprepared and disoriented. What do you do now?
Online, there are countless stories and tips informing kids on what to do in the worst case scenario. Who do you contact, or where can you go in case your parents react badly and kick you out? Yet, rare are the articles that advise or help parents refrain from reacting badly in the first place. How do they play catch up and adjust or reframe their way of thinking or belief systems to welcome the progressive and foreign thoughts of the young?
Scrolling through Facebook the other day, I came by a four-minute video that did just that. Pastor and Church leader Susan Contrell from FreedHearts.org enumerates the five steps a parent should take when their kids come out to them.
Breathe. Pause. Don’t do anything rash.
One of the greatest fears of any member of the LGBT community who’s thinking of coming out? It’s you. Regardless of age or social status.
If you’re feeling scared and lost, remember that they’re feeling that twice as much. Remember that this isn’t about you, this isn’t something that they’re doing to you. Contrell says in the video that it’s something they discovered rather than something they chose.
So, give yourself and your kid time to think about this. Don’t do anything you’ll regret. Take a breather and think about this rationally.
Stay connected with your child.
If you need time, if it doesn’t make sense quite yet, then be honest with your child. Ask for the space you need to process things calmly. It doesn’t and shouldn’t come at the expense of your child.
While they’re keeping their distance, make sure to stay connected. If you’re feeling lost, then your kid is feeling fragile. Your silence or your absence may be interpreted as rejection, and rejection or feeling like they’ve been cut out of their family or community is one of the main reasons why LGBTQ members commit suicide.
Ask yourself why.
What’s the basis of your negative reactions? Get to the root of the problem inside of you so you can move forward in the best way. Don’t reflect your anger or confusion on your child.
If you’re concerned because of your faith? Do your research, you might be surprised what you find out.
“Give yourself the time it takes to get educated on something unfamiliar to you.”
Do your research and attempt to understand. This way, you give yourself an honest chance to get know your kid and make an informed decision how to move forward. You also have a better chance of building a relationship with them.
A lot of parents here in the Philippines excuse their lack of understanding with the saying that “old dogs can’t learn new tricks.” Don’t limit yourselves, don’t undermine who you are as a person. Learning never stops. While it may be harder, while it may take longer, you can always learn something new. The only time you can’t is when you choose not to.
Choose your child. Choose love.
Cheesy, yes. But also true. Remember that unconditional love bit mainstream media keeps hammering us with. Yes, this includes that. It means being there for them, welcoming them, choosing them, even in the face of a concept completely foreign to you.
As for making them the butt of every joke during family gatherings? Your children can read between the lines. Acceptance isn’t just tolerance, it isn’t letting them stay in the family with the condition that they have to endure being made fun of.
Watch the full video below.
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