We live in a society that loves to make anyone and everyone feel different and unaccepted unless they fall into the mainstream idea of what’s expected and “normal”. For the most part, people have learned to ignore what society says and live their lives on their own terms. Because no matter what, society will have an opinion — your choice of career, dressing, hairstyle, or even your appearance.
The best thing to do is to pay no heed to the mindless voices and be yourself completely. While this approach works most of the time, things are different when it comes to your children. You get protective, defensive and can go to any lengths to keep your child away from society’s judgments. While doing so, you might end up hurting your children without the intention to do so.
Since it’s Pride Month, we wanted to list out ways in which you can render support to your child if they choose to come out to you. Here are seven ways to stand by your kid if they come out as LGBTQ+:
1. Tell Them You Love Them
Coming out to parents is probably one of the biggest and scariest fears of a child who identifies as LGBTQ+. When your child comes out to you, they fear that you won’t love them anymore. So, as much as the news might come as a shocker to you (or not), tell them you accept them. The acceptance at home is more important than the one we need as validation from society. Even when a wide majority does not approve of their choice, their parents’ support will give them enough courage and confidence to be the way they are and brave through the unwelcome glares. Let them know that you love them, and they are the same kid they were before they came out to you.
2. Encourage Them To Talk
Coming out of the closet is not easy. There are parts of it that a kid has to go through on their own, and as much as you want to help them and take away the pain, it’s a journey that they have to figure out by themselves. Therefore, encourage them to talk and open up by subtly talking about the subject. For example, you could watch movies that have LGBTQ+ representation together and have a healthy discussion. But do not push them to open up to you. If you have noticed that they are hiding it from you, instead of directly asking them, you can make them comfortable by discussing gender issues and related topics from time to time. Over time surely they will feel that they can approach the topic with you.
3. Read And Educate Yourself
If you have absolutely no idea about anything related to the LGBTQ+ community, it’s bound to scare you when your kid comes out to you. The best way to avoid being overwhelmed is to keep yourself informed. Read about the community, learn the facts and understand their challenges. You could also speak to a therapist to help you navigate through your feelings. And before you properly understand about it, try to not say anything that might hurt your child’s feelings. Tell them you support them no matter what and are interested in learning more about the community. Be patient and over time you will realize you have provided great support to your child at the time of the real need.
4. Stay Involved
In some cases, though parents accept the fact that their kids are in the LGBTQ+, they distance themselves partly or fully from their children’s lives. It’s either because they can’t mentally accept it or simply don’t know how to positively react to it. This can prove to be really detrimental to the child’s psyche. He/she will feel like ever since they came out to you, your love for them has undergone a change.
Involve yourself in your kids’ lives. Meet other parents who are in the same boat and advocate for your kids’ rights. Find out the school policy regarding LGBTQ+ rights and ensure your kid is not being treated differently. Going the extra mile to keep your kid safe from external harassment will teach them that you will have their back, no matter what.
5. Look For Signs Of Bullying
Being “different” is enough reason for kids to be bullied. Look for signs of harassment and bullying, and tell your kid to speak to you if they are victims of it. Often children may undergo harassment, abuse and bullying silently without telling anyone. They feel shame and embarrassment for things they aren’t even guilty of. In the long term, this can have really bad effects on their personality and confidence. Your child should know that no matter what, bullying is intolerable, and they don’t have to endure any fraction of it.
6. Do It Together
Supporting a kid who comes to you might not always be easy. But it’s your duty to stand by them and give them unwavering support because they are probably having a hard time as it is. Therefore, find other parents who can relate and offer support. It might be something new to all of you, and together, you can learn to support your child better. Your shared experiences will give you more courage and confidence over time.
7. Speak To Them About Healthy Relationships
It’s absolutely okay to develop an attraction to boys and girls their age. But dating in its very essence can be quite daunting. Therefore, openly communicate with your child about healthy relationships, consent, and respect. It’s an important conversation to have with any child who is going to start dating.
Most kids who come to their parents are terrified of how they’ll react. But they know that if they have parents in their corner, facing the world becomes a lot easier. Therefore, support your child and love them for who they are. Are you or anyone you know struggling to support a child that has come out of the closet? Share this article with them to help them, even if it’s just a little!