Your child just came out to you. Are you feeling like a deer in the headlights?
- Breathe, pause, and don’t do anything rash. Your child just did something courageous and challenging. Coming out to their parents can be one of a child’s most anxious and stress-provoking times. Your child does not expect you to have all the answers; they want to be seen, heard, and loved for who they really are. Your comforting and loving words let them know that you love, accept, and are there for them.
- Work through your emotions, and don’t react against your child. They are not doing this to you to intentionally hurt or alienate you. Your child discovered something about themselves, and there is nothing you could have done differently that would have changed the outcome. Your child came out to you, proving that you have fostered love, safety, and trust; remember that they are still the same child you know and love.
- Depression, self-harm, and suicide are real risks among the LGBTQ youth not because they identify as LGBTQ but because they are rejected for it and are cut out of family and community. If you have cut your child off or reacted negatively to them, seek them out and tell them that you love them. If you struggle with that part, seek guidance, support, or professional help. Time is not always on your side; if you wait, your child might not want to have a relationship with you.
- Educate yourself about the subject and learn what it means to be an ally to the LGBTQ community. Do not depend on your child to “teach you”; they are already burdened with navigating and educating everyone else in their everyday life.
Coming out to family is a fragile time and how you respond is critically important. Stay connected to your child and let them know that you love them. Lead with love and listen with intention, providing them with safety and a soft place to land. As their parent, you are the most qualified person to do that.
Here are some resources for families with LGBTQ children: