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- Coming out is sometimes one of the hardest things an LGBTQ person can do.
- Ideally, all parents should make one thing clear as they learn and process: that no matter what, they love you unconditionally.
- Saying “thank you” and offering to help find resources can have a major positive impact.
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Coming out can be the best day of an LGBTQ person’s life. Though it’s freeing, it isn’t always easy.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, an estimated 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. The HRC cites family rejection as one of the main causes of homeless for LGBTQ teens.
Sometimes parents are extremely positive, affirming, and compassionate. Ideally, all parents should make one thing clear as they learn and process: that no matter what, they love you unconditionally.
According to the HRC, these words can make a major difference in a teen’s emotional state. 41% of youth who are out to their family say they’re “pretty happy” or “very happy,” and those who are out are actually more likely to achieve.
As a parent, there’s not really a foolproof guide on how to raise a successful, happy LGBTQ child or how to adequately prepare them for the experience of entering a world that isn’t always accepting. There are, however, some things you can say to your child to help ease the process of coming out, and there are statistics that prove the importance of your support.
Here are seven affirming and helpful things that an LGBTQ person needs to hear when coming out.
‘I love you’
This is important. These words mean the most because at the end of the day, even if you’ve promised to love your kid unconditionally in the past, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need a reminder.
Your love for your child should come first and foremost no matter how you feel or where you’re at in your relationship.
‘What can I do to help?’
Offering to help isn’t just the polite thing to do, it’s also necessary during a time of a lot of emotions and stress.
Helping can come in the form of offering to get ice cream or head to their favorite restaurant, but it can also mean listening, remaining non-judgmental, and aiding them in reaching out to others with the news.
It’s always good to have an ally, especially when they happen to be a parent.
‘I support you’
These words may be enough to elicit a sigh of relief. For so many members of the community, it feels as though parents either tolerate their identity or shame them for it.
Neither of these is ideal. You don’t have to go to a pride parade in a rainbow costume (though that could be fun!), but you should at least express your ability to encourage your kid to be themselves.
Resources like PFLAG have some great info on how you can begin to get involved in LGBTQ advocacy groups.
‘What can I do to improve?’
Sometimes it pays to take a hint from your kid and let them lead the way. Understand that you may have said or done things that could have confused them or made them question their identity, even if you didn’t mean to.
Let your child tell you how to identify some of your behaviors that may not be so affirming and make it a teaching moment.
They may be too overwhelmed to help in the moment, but that’s why resources like the coming out guide from the Human Rights Campaign can come in handy so you can begin educating yourself.
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‘If/when you’re ready, let’s talk more’
Maybe your child isn’t quite ready to go into details. That’s totally normal. Make sure that they know you’re available and open to hearing more about their journey and getting to know them as soon as they decide they’re ready.
You might have questions and concerns of your own, but it’s nice to make sure that they’re not feeling too raw or emotional to give you some answers.
‘Let’s look into resources’
You might not necessarily be equipped to handle everything your kid is telling you and that’s understandable. There are people out there who are. In fact, you may actually need resources even more than your child.
Heading to a PFLAG meeting or a local workshop is a great start and could even end up being a bonding activity. If anything, the suggestion at least proves that you’re putting action to your words of affirmation.
Mean it when you say it. Your child is trusting you with something so big and so important that it’s changing the course of their life and your relationship, even if it’s in ways you don’t entirely understand.
If they didn’t think you were worthy of knowing, they wouldn’t be coming out to you.
Let them know that you’re grateful to get to know them on a different, deeper level and that they trust you.
- Read more:
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- 12 traits that ‘perfectly happy’ couples have in common, according to a new study
- A father asked a gay man he met in Vegas for advice about raising his son, and the internet can’t get enough
- The 26 countries around the world where same-sex marriage is legal