The Role of Being Supportive in your child's Life
The acronym LGTBQIA2S+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit, and other ways people self-identify. Many young people are concerned they will not be accepted for who they are, afraid their family or friends may stop loving them or have others judge them when deciding to come out.
It is crucial that your loved one feel they are supported. When feeling loved and supported, people feel more capable of sharing their innermost feelings and have a higher chance of resilience.
It is expected that parents have a variety of feelings and emotions when they discover their child is LGBTQIA2S+ (Miller, 2023). There are possible concerns that their child could be bullied at school or discriminated against at work, according to Miller, 2023. Some families may have reservations because of religious reasons (Miller, 2023). However, listening to your child, letting them see and hear you support them, and being empathetic is vital. It is imperative to show your child love and support. Suppose you are having distressing feelings about your child being LGBTQ+. In that case, it is important not to indicate those feelings to your child, but sharing them in support groups such as PFLAG, church, or a local therapist could assist you in learning ways to support your child (Miner, 2023).
Children need to know they can feel safe, honest, and heard when talking to their parents or caregivers; that is the best way to build a healthy relationship with your child. Children who do not feel supported may feel alone and less likely to seek deep and meaningful conversations with their parents. Keeping the lines of communication open will allow your child to feel safe sharing whatever they need to discuss. Saying "Thank you for telling me" or "Help me understand what you are saying" can make your child feel heard and less likely to shut down when talking with you. Open communication means listening, being free of judgment, and validating your child (Miner, 2023). If your child comes out to you it is important not to minimize their feelings or try problem-solving, which can lead to your child feeling they made a mistake in sharing their feelings about their identity with you (Miner, 2023). Reassuring your child that you love them above all else is crucial to being a parent. The Child Mind Institute suggests using language like "I am glad we can discuss this because I want you always to feel safe and supported" or "Whatever decisions you are contemplating, I would like to help you make the best ones for you" (Child Mind Institute, 2023).
Safety is Key
You are your child's best advocate. When you show that you are proud of your child's identity and support them, it allows them to express themselves and be comfortable being who they are. Parents may feel concerned about how their child is treated at school and other areas in the community that may not welcome LGBTQ+ people. Teaching their child how to deal with potential hostility and bullying and asking, "Do you feel safe at school or in other places" This language offers children to let you know if they feel safe and supported or if there are potentially harsh environments in which they spend their time.
If your child attends school, become familiar with your child's school policies. If you feel your child is not being supported at school, advocate for change or consider relocating to a more supportive environment (Miner,2023). The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.
Telling Friends and Family
Adolescence is a difficult time for children. It is a time when they are trying to discover themselves and find their independence. It is also a time that many people come out as it is a time to discover themselves. Coming out can be a relief but sometimes painful (Miner, 2023). Children often worry about how other people will respond, especially the essential people in their Life. As a parent, you need to listen to whom your child wants to share with and what they want to share and respect them. After your child talks with people, check in to see how they feel about coming out to friends or family. The key is to listen and allow active communication with eye contact and paraphrases, never assume you know what they are feeling without asking them. According to Minor, 2023, children commonly share their gender identity with their friends and trusted adults before sharing it with their parents. It is essential not to be angry or upset with your child for telling others first; remember it may have been hard for them to express their feelings, and they need to feel supported first and foremost (Minor, 2023).
Minor shares the reason children may be apprehensive about sharing their identity with parents first is:
- Parents have control over things like housing, money, and transportation and may worry they could be removed.
- They could be concerned about their parent's expectations of whom they think their parents want them to become.
- Their friends may be more accepting and supportive.
Together we can make a difference. Remember, you are your child's most prominent advocate, supporter, and fan. It is up to you to make them feel safe, loved, heard, and accepted.
For additional information, this link will provide resources https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth-resources.htm
LGBTQ+ Youth Resources, 2023, Center For Disease Control and Prevention
Miner, C, 2023 How To Support LGBTQ+ Children, When kids are coming out, what do they need from parents Child Mind Institute