Supporting Your LGBTQ Child
It’s Pride Month! June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) Pride Month. For so many, it is a time of celebration—people spend the time dressing up and heading to parades or events held in their communities. It’s a time where communities come together to acknowledge the violent struggles and pay homage to the rights and respect that have been won due to hard work and lives lost by LGBTQ people, their families, friends, and allies. It’s when we all mobilize together to work for more justice, less stigma and for a world that does not put a person in danger nor does it prevent them from reaching their full potential because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
There is no doubt that we have come a long way when it comes to acceptance from society. Acceptance of the LGBTQ community continues to grow globally, but there’s always room for improvement. LGBTQ youth remain vulnerable to suicide, homelessness, and other negative outcomes. This is mainly because they lack acceptance from their parents or immediate loved ones. It’s been taught to us over and over again, parents play an extremely important role in the lives of their children. This stands true especially when a child becomes aware of who they are attracted to or whom they love, or if they feel themselves to be a male, female, or somewhere in between. The love and acceptance by those closest to you are critical to the health and success of any youth. Research shows that children whose parents belittle or shame them are more likely to battle depression or attempt suicide than those whose parents are supportive.
Sometimes we just don’t know how to support our children, especially when it’s something that we know nothing about—that is normal. There are ways that you can help your child, to show them support and to fill their lives with acceptance no matter their sexual orientation or their gender identity.
Lead With Love
For some, this comes naturally, but that’s not the case for every person. It could be due to long-held beliefs that may get in the way of being able to respond positively and supportively. What is so important to keep in mind at this moment is that as hard as it is for you to learn about your child’s sexual orientation or gender identity, it was probably so much harder for your child to come to you and tell you this information. Sometimes we are left speechless when we are given certain information, and that is okay. In those moments, when the right words seem challenging or unavailable, sometimes a hug can speak a thousand words.
Coming to you was probably one of the hardest things for your child to do. This is a great first step, but don’t pressure your child to talk about everything in that one moment. If you have a sense that they might want to talk, try open-ended questions, such as “what can I do to support you?” that opens the door for continued dialogue while also letting them know you’re here to support them.
As parents, we don’t know everything. There are situations where we lack the knowledge and maybe this is that situation. Take the time to educate yourself. Taking the time to learn about gender and sexual diversity is a great step that shows your child that you care. You don’t have to know everything, more than likely your child is still learning and looking for resources (chances are they probably scoured the internet endlessly,) ask your child if there is anything specific they aren’t sure about or that they would like you to learn more about. Learning the language is a great way to lead you and your child into having important and challenging conversations. Mistakes will be made and that’s okay, own it, apologize, and work harder to do better. This is new and it’s okay to be vulnerable and to not always get it right.
Take Care of Yourself
You are not alone. There are more than eight million self-identified LGBTQ people in America and 8 in 10 people personally know someone who is LGBTQ. Reach out to supportive families and allies to help you as you continue to learn more about the LGBTQ community. When we reach out to those who understand, it can help us process our feelings and validate everything that we are feeling.
Remember, when learning that your child is LGBTQ, there is no one way to react. Whether it be happiness, relief, fear, guilt, sadness, or anger, each emotion that you feel is normal.
This is a journey for both of you. Take time to process and explore your feelings.
Showing your child or loved one acceptance and love is the most important thing we can do, especially when they share with us that they are LGBTQ. It’s okay to not have all the right answers when your child comes out to you. It’s okay to let them know that you don’t know much or anything about the LGBTQ community. Having an open and honest conversation allows us to be vulnerable while also showing that we are here to learn. June is a glorious month to start celebrating your LGBTQ child. Attend events with them, buy them that rainbow shirt from Target. Be their biggest and loudest advocate. If you’re not comfortable with that, shower them with hugs. This is a journey for both of you and your feelings and questions are valid. If you’re looking for more ways to support your LGBTQ loved ones, reach out to Achieve Concierge today. Call (858) 221-0344.
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