Parents often experience a range of emotions when they think about their children growing older and eventually exploring sexual relationships. For some parents, learning that your child identifies as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual, queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community can be difficult, and you may be uncertain about how you can best support them. With that being said, it would be unfair to deny that coming out is also difficult for children and young persons.
Here are a few things you can do if you learn that your child is LGBTQ.
- Love them for who they are – If your child comes out to you, or you happen to learn their sexual identity, always remember all children will be unique and your job as a parent is to support and love them regardless of their sexual orientation. You should not try to change them or make them into someone they are not. It is okay to ask questions to learn more about their life, for example, “Do you know when you started to identify as gay?” and to make supportive statements, for example, “Your sexual orientation does not affect my love for you.”
- Be cool and casual – After learning about your child’s sexual identity, it is good to be casual about it. If you previously would have lovingly and inquisitively asked your teenage daughter about the guy she has been talking to, instead, you can ask about the girls that she may be talking to (if she identifies as lesbian or bisexual for instance). This will let you child know it they can talk to you about what’s going on in their life and it can strengthen the bond that you have.
- Accept shades of grey – As a caring parent, you may wonder if their sexual orientation will conflict with other aspects of their life, for example, religion or being able to get married. It is normal to have questions, but accepting that your child is happy and contented with their life as gay and spiritual, or as a forward-thinking lesbian, can be a source of comfort for you. Afterall, you only want them to be happy. You should not use religion to shame them or say, “it’s just a phase” since this can lead to feelings to rejection, guilt, anger and/or sadness.
Like every relationship, communication, love, mutual respect and trust is important for bonds to be strengthened. If your child comes out to you, know that it means that they trust you, they care about you, they want you to know who they really are and they want you to be a part of their life. And as the great parent you are, you want to be there for them every step of the way. Continue to be that great parent. Love them and cherish them. Their sexual orientation, does NOT, change who they are.