How to respond to your child if they come out as gay,lesbian, transgendered, or bisexual:
Having a child come out is essentially the same as any other parenting challenge. Parenting requires that parents be adaptive. Parenting goes best when you are attuned to your child, and respond to THEIR needs. Parents must let go of the expectations that they have for their children, that are based on what the parents want for their children. Remember that your child is still your child. He or she is not a different person. He or she just shared something with you that was very personal. This means that you have, up to this point, kept the lines of communication open. Your child is talking to you. About sexuality! Even if your child is no longer living at home, ask questions, and show your child that you’re interested in a loving way: ‘Are you dating anyone?’ ‘I hope you’re practicing safe sex.’ ‘I hope that you’re in relationships that are respectful and loving and supportive.’ ”
- Be sure your child knows you love him or her.A parent’s first response should be to remind their child that you are there for them, and love them, and support them. “I love you, you’re my kid,”
- Reaffirm your values. If you do not feel that teens should have sex with other teens, this is still your value, and you should still guide your child as their parent.
- If you have made anti-gay statements, it is time to be a good model. Acknowledge that you have a prejudice. Discuss the need to treat all humans with respect and dignity. Discuss the need for tolerance.
- Remember that children will also have questions. They have not lived in the world as a sexual being, and will benefit from a parents’ willingness to talk openly and to ask questions.
- Adolescents worry about being accepted–whether it is because they are not good at or interested in sports and this is something their parents value, if it is because they are not good students, and this is something their parents value, or whether it is because they are homosexual, children need to be reassured that they will be loved by their parents.
- Re-examine your assumptions. A parent of a child who’s just come out may think may worry that they may never have grandchildren, for example, and this is not necessarily true.
- Get support. One of the best resources is Parents, Friends, and Families of Lesbians and Gays: http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?pid=194&srcid=-2
- Protect your child. Because of the social stigma that homosexuality still carries, the risk of suicide in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered youth is much higher. Parents can help by doing the same things they would do if their child was straight. Have a connection with them, find them support, make sure they are able to feel safe and loved in their home.
If you believe that homosexuality is fundamentally wrong, then remember these other values:
- Hatred is not a value, and your child is still your child.
- Treat others as you wish to be treated.
- Seek the support of a trusted mentor or support group. Find out how other parents have managed to cope with their child’s sexuality when it conflicts with their beliefs.
- Remember that your child has done things in the past that you disapproved of, and you still loved them. As a parent, it is your responsibility to let them know that though you disapprove of homsexuality, you still love your child.
- There is nothing that you need to DO about this. You will need some time to process the shock. Many parents are surprised to learn that their children are homosexual–because it is simply not as common as having a child who is heterosexual.