How a parent reacts to their child’s coming out process is crucial
. Supportive parents can create a spirit of collaboration
, and a soft place to fall when these situations prove trying
. 如 Pride Month
结束了, it presents an opportunity for parents to set that tone going forward
What can parents do?
It can be difficult for parents in my practice to process, much less accept, their LGBTQ+ child. 原来, most feel undereducated and ill-prepared. Some feel a sense of fear and even grief. Parents often come to me at a loss about how to approach this topic.
It’s still important to try. Parents need to talk with their kids and listen to them, about their own sexuality, and acceptance of that of others. 除此以外, kids may be maintaining a wholly unnecessary, but emotionally taxing, secret from you. Parents can free them from that burden. And you don’t have to be an expert. Kids frequently tell me it’s OK to ask openly about what you don’t know.
记得, this is still the child you love
Many parents have expressed to me, in a state of despair, that they will never be able to fully relate to their LGBTQ+ child again once they come out. Parents often spell out the losses: “She’s no longer my little girl.” “He’ll be bullied the rest of his life.” “They’ll never marry or have a family.”
These parents are missing out. After decades in practice, I’ve known a lot of these kids, and they are amazing. They talk openly with me, and I get to see this beautiful side of them that their own parents never see. By wishing only for conformity, parents don’t get to enjoy a lifelong connection with their LGBTQ+ children — the children they have raised, the children they say they have loved unconditionally.
是因为, once a child is out and finds their footing, I tend to fear more for the parent. That child will, 在所有的可能性, grow up and live a full, rich life like the young man with the conservative parents. But the parents may miss the experience entirely because of this one fumbled opportunity, opting for judgment and fear over love and acceptance.
The bravery of coming out
If your child has approached you about their sexual identity, consider the courage it took to broach that conversation. If you were in the same boat a generation ago, how difficult would that talk have been for you? How hard would you have worked to avoid it?
I’m in awe of the kids who have come into my therapy room to share their sexual identity or orientation — or that they want to understand it for themselves. I grieve for every parent who misses this enormous opportunity to connect and share that experience. It’s a beautiful process, a chance to deepen a connection. It’s certainly worthy of the word “pride.”
These kids, your kids and our kids, deserve to feel that pride from you.
And it’s worth noting how vital its impact can be
. LGBTQ+ youth are at exceptionally high risk for suicide
, suicidal ideation and self-harming gestures
. They attempt and die by suicide far more than straight youth
. Solely by virtue of their sexual identities
, these kids face an alarming degree of risk
As parents, your acceptance can help bolster them from these grave risks.
What if your child is straight and cisgender?
Even if you think you don’t need to think about Pride because your kids aren’t LGBTQ+, you face an opportunity to talk with all of your kids about unconditional love and acceptance.
Ask them about their feelings regarding their LGBTQ+ peers. I suspect you’ll hear some surprising answers. In all likelihood, parents will find their children have far more open minds with regard to these issues than they do themselves.
And be prepared for the possibility that you could be wrong about your kids’ 身份.
事实上, some parents may carry some residual bias, or need to work on fully understanding this novel situation. But if you’re willing to do this work, learn and listen and support, just consider the model you’re providing. You don’t fully understand a topic but you’re going to work to learn more. It’s an approach I think most parents would want their children to follow.