The coming out process of LGBTQ adolescents can be a terrifying moment, not only for the teenager, but also their family and friends. It is a time of high emotions that may include confusion, shock, disbelief, rejection, anger, acceptance, understanding and concern. As parents, it is important to create a supportive environment for your LGBTQ teen to speak about what’s going on inside them. Although it may be challenging for you to have this conversation, it is just as hard for them to share this new identity with you.
Some suggestions to make the conversation go smoothly include…
- Be supportive and let them know they are loved for exactly who they are.
- Stay calm and try not to react immediately.
- Let them know you understand how hard this conversation is for them.
- Be patient with them and don’t expect them to have all the answers about what it means to be gay.
- Know that your own personal beliefs may be challenged in this moment but it is still the same child you’ve always loved.
- Explore community resources available. If you have questions about sexual orientation, educate yourself.
- Consider family or individual therapy with a counselor who specializes in assisting gay teens and their families.
It can be a challenge to be open and available for your gay teen during the coming out process because you will also be trying to address your own fears, concerns and emotions. You may find yourself in new territory and may not have developed the language to speak effectively and sensitively to your teen. You most likely envisioned a future for your child and realizing that this dream may not come about in the manner you anticipated can create feelings of disappointment and loss.
One of the biggest concerns of any teen in the process of coming out is whether their parents will accept them for who they are. One of the most supportive things any parent can offer at the moment of coming out is simply a hug and reassurance that there is still a relationship based on love. Remember that when your teen comes out, they have probably been thinking about this process for a very long time. Simply connecting with your teen will help to relive some of the anxiety and reassure your adolescent that there is still space for them in the family story. Although it may feel uncomfortable at first, acceptance of their newly shared identity can develop over time, creating a stronger family and a more open relationship based on trust and understanding.