Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual. Queer. Pansexual.
You are probably familiar with these words as they are becoming more common in mainstream society. But if you or someone you love doesn’t identify as one of the above, it can be easy to look the other way and focus on the concepts and priorities in your world. Until one day when these words become a part of your world. Specifically, in the form of your child.
When your child tells you about their sexuality, it is a pivotal moment for them, you, and your family. Your next actions are critical. I know, it can be scary.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual teenagers who have unsupportive parents are:
- 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide
- 5.9 times more likely to experience high levels of depression
- 3.4 times more likely to use drugs
- 3.4 times more likely to have unprotected sexual encounters
For transgender adolescents, these numbers increase even more. 33.2% have attempted suicide.
By providing a place of safety and support to your LGBTQ+ teen(s), you are helping these risks decrease for them significantly. However, depending on your own personal beliefs, support may feel hard or unnatural.
As parents, we want to protect our child from anything that might cause them harm or make them a target for harm. I genuinely believe that a lot of negative reaction from parents is often a fear of their child now being a target in a world that is not always supportive.
The best thing you can do for your child right now is to reassure them that they are safe with you. That they are loved. That in a world where they will encounter bullies and naysayers, your home is a safe place.
I want to help guide you through this critical time in you and your child’s life in a way that leads you both to feel love and support.
Apply yourself to curiosity
Let your child answer your questions for you. The important role in your world at that moment is understanding what these terms mean to them and how it impacts their life. Let them educate you on who they are. Make sure your voice is calm and your expression is soft. These questions are not an interrogation, but simply you trying to understand your child better because you love them.
- What does this mean to them?
- Do they have a partner?
- Are they having sex?
- How do they feel about who they are?
- Were they scared to tell you?
- Who all knows?
These answers will help you understand what is going on in your child’s life. And if they don’t respond or don’t know the answer, that’s ok! Sometimes adolescents can be closed off and hard to engage in conversation. Reassure them that you love them just as they are and are here if they want or need to talk.
Apply yourself to learning
As parents, we want to have the answer to everything for our child(ren). However, that isn’t always possible, especially in this situation. If you don’t know something, it’s okay to admit it. Take it upon yourself to learn what you can.
- Do you know how safe sex is possible?
- How do you prepare your child for this?
- Are there laws that protect someone who is LGBTQ?
- What are important things they need to know as they transition to adulthood?
- What are stories of other kids who have come out to parents?
Apply yourself to involvement
Your child just revealed a huge part of themselves that shapes a lot of how they will experience life moving forward. Below are some examples to prove involvement.
- Let them see you publicly support LGBTQ+ issues. When you hear something on the news, let them know that you’re glad to provide a safe space for them.
- Attend the pride festival this year (June 22nd, 2019 in Houston).
- When your child begins to date and bring home their partner, inform them of the house rules. Just because they are not straight, doesn’t mean all the rules get changed now, right? 😊
In the end, you don’t have to be a perfect parent. Your child needs you to be supportive and loving in a world that isn’t always kind.
If you found yourself relating to this information and would like support for you, your child, or both, please give us a call at Amy Wine Counseling Center at 832-421-8714 to set up an appointment. I am passionate about helping families embrace and understand each other through life changes and would love the opportunity to work with you. Together, we can see your home continue to be a place of love and safety for everyone there.
Human Rights Campaign: All Children – All Families: Caring for LGBTQ Youth and Children: https://www.hrc.org/resources/all-children-all-families-caring-for-lgbtq-children-youth
An organization for family and friends of the LGBT community: https://pflag.org/
Local LGBTQ+ resource center: http://www.montrosecenter.org/
Local LGBTQ+ friendly health center: https://www.legacycommunityhealth.org/