It is awkward and confusing for most of the parents when their child comes out to them. Even when they are prepared for it. Even when they know that about it. And even when they are completely unaware of it. So, as a parent, what is the best thing to do when your kid says that he isn’t heterosexual? Here are 5 tips you need to remember as parents of LGBT youth.
Remind them that you love them
According to John Hopkins Hospital’s adolescent medicine specialists Renata Arrington Sanders and Errol Fields, as parents of LGBT youth, the first thing to tell your out-of-the-closet child is that you love them, no matter what. LGBT family acceptance is a crucial part of the process whereby you let your child feel safe and secure around you.
Often, parents of LGBT youth are so shocked or angered by their child’s sexuality that they forget to express their parental love towards him/her. But this also the first step to successfully raising a LGBT child. You might need time to process what your child just told you. But you also need to remember that your love is the first and the most important thing that will give him/her the strength and confidence to face the world.
Don’t shame for child for not being heterosexual. Instead, tell the child that you love him/her, express it and stand by his/her side.
Encourage clear communication
Communicating efficiently and effectively with your child about his/her sexuality is the second most important thing in the guidebook of how to be a good parent. You must understand that your child might feel isolated when it comes to sexuality. And communicating with him/her is the first key step in a raising a LGBT child normally.
Here is what you can do. Start by building trust between yourself and your child. Take baby steps to get the child to trust you. Indirectly, let them know that you support them completely, no matter what. Let your child know that it is okay to be different. In fact, communicate to the child about the perks of being unique or standing out from the rest of the crowd.
Be curious about your child’s life. No, don’t be nosy. Be curious. There’s a difference. Ask him/her about how the day at school or college was. And remember, when the child finally gathers to courage to open up to you, don’t pass judgment. Instead, discuss with the child why you agree/disagree with him/her. Bea good listener.
Be aware of who your child’s friends are. Follow up on your child’s hobbies or passion. Take interest in his/her life, but don’t intrude more than required. That’s the key to the question – how to be a good parent.
Get your child to open up
LGBT youth can be insecure and in denial about its sexuality. Moreover, raising a LGBT child is hard, since you need to be more accessible to your child than the rest of the parents are. But don’t let that deter you. There are ways to encourage your child to open up to you his/her sexuality.
The key is to not confront him/her directly. You might have always had an inkling of your child’s sexuality. However, if you go upto him/her and directly talk about it, your child might just become uncomfortable about sharing stuff and push you away even more.
The solution is to communicate your support to your child indirectly. For instance, if you two are watching a movie with a non-heterosexual character in it, initiate a dialogue like, “Oh, that character is homosexual. I am okay with it. What do you say?”
The other idea is to identify your child’s friend/s who might also be a part of the LGBT community, and talking to your child about it. Just remember to express your comfort regarding the topic. And then see how your child opens up to you.
As parents of LGBT youth, be aware of the facts
As parents of LGBT youth, you must keep certain LGBT facts in mind. First thing to remember is that a LGBT identity is not ‘just a phase’. If your child is part of LGBT community. It is highly unlikely that he/she will ever disassociate himself/herself from it. Just like being heterosexual isn’t a phase, being non-heterosexual is a permanent thing as well.
Secondly, there is no ‘cure’ for your child’s gender identity. There is no medicine that can turn your child into a heterosexual being. LGBT identity isn’t a disease. It’s just the way your child is. And there is nothing wrong with it.
Thirdly, no one or nothing should be blamed for your child’s LGBT identity. It’s not because of the company of LGBT people, or because of a sin committed in this life or the previous one, and it’s definitely not because you did something wrong as a parent. Your child is what he/she is. It’s not wrong or sinful, so don’t place the blame where there is no need or space for it.
Be involved with your child’s school
As parents of LGBT youth, it is your responsibility to involve your child’s school in creating a better environment for the LGBT community. Begin by advocating for the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) in your child’s school. Stay in touch with the academic as well as the non-academic staff of the school to remain updated on the progress.
Take your stand in favor of a sex-inclusive education. Speak up for an education that educates the LGBT community about concepts like safe-sex and the heterosexual community about tolerance and acceptance. Acceptance of the LGBT communities at schools is as important and crucial as LGBT family acceptance.
Keep an eye out for signs of bullying towards LGBT communities at schools. Notice if your child has become more isolated, scared or quiet. Pay attention if his/her grades are dropping. Be concerned about your child’s increasing absenteeism from school and college. If you feel a sudden change (even a slight one) in your child’s behavior, take action.
Raising a LGBT child efficiently is no easy task. But as parents of LGBT youth, it is a necessary one. So, keep these simple tips in mind the next time you have to deal with your child’s sexuality.