Supporting Your Child When They Come Out To You
Supporting your children, in everything they do, is possibly the most important thing you can do as a parent. That said, supporting your LGBTQ child when they come out to you can truly affect them for the rest of their lives. Your reaction and actions are critical.
The decision to “come out” is not easy. While some people seemingly have no issue and are comfortable sharing their true selves almost immediately, it is more difficult for others. In fact, many (adults and children alike) struggle with it, some for years. That said, how you react and the support you provide goes a long way in helping them navigate their lives.
If you have a child who has recently come out (or who you believe may), here are three simple things you can do to provide them the support that they want and need.
Offer Unconditional Love: If nothing else, do this. Your child needs to know that your love for them is the same today (when they share who they are) as it was before they came out. After all, they are still the same person. Nothing has changed except for the fact that they have opened up, trusted you, and shared some very personal and important information.
Advocate for Their Needs: Clearly, individual needs will vary significantly depending upon several factors including age, personality, and even interests. Every child and each situation is unique. At the very least, make sure your home is a “safe space” for your child, a judgment-free zone. If your child is younger and more reliant upon you for assistance, help them find LGBTQ organizations and consider identifying support groups if necessary.
Educate Yourself: Knowledge is power. Learn about the LGBTQ community. Understand the vocabulary. Use the correct pronouns. All of this allows you to communicate appropriately and ultimately shows that you care.
Of course, there are many more specific actions that you can take, and they are important as well. That said, these three are a good start.
How you react to your child and the information they share with you can make all the difference in the world. Family support is so important and meaningful.
Take some time, do some research, and then do what you have always done. Love them. Support them. And, care for them. They are still your child. And remember, In some ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same.