We all love our kids unconditionally, but it’s not always easy to know how to support them when they’re going through something we don’t fully understand or relate to. Here are some ideas, originally shared by @parentstogether on how to best support your child in their coming out.
Even if your family isn’t in this situation currently (or ever), these are universal tips that EVERY parent should have in their toolbox.
1. Congratulations are in order! Even if you feel unprepared, remember there’s a lot to celebrate when a child comes out: they have a strong sense of self-awareness & insight AND they feel comfortable & confident enough to express themselves. Make sure you let them know how proud of them you are & they should be of themselves!
2. Love & affirm them. Make it clear that you love them no matter what. Your child, in telling you, is looking for love & support, not judgement or fears for what their future may hold. Affirming their identity & pronouns is one of the most important things you can do for them. Their mental health, resilience & your relationship relies on it.
3. Listen, learn & be honest. Ask respectful questions about their experience. Let them know you’re there to listen anytime. Be honest, share that you need to learn & might make mistakes. Don’t expect them to do all the explaining/correcting. It’s your responsibility to educate yourself with resources like PFLAG.
4. Ensure a safe & open environment. You can do a lot to help your child feel safe & secure, regardless of whether they identify as LGBTQ+. Make sure they have places they feel safe to dress/express themselves. Expose them to and talk about LGBTQ+ role models. Speak positively about things like diverse families, relationships, non-traditional or gender-conforming clothing etc.
5. Be their advocate. Learn what you can do to support your child’s experience. Does your extended family need to work on its language? Does their school need to update their policies on bathrooms, pronouns or bullying? Make sure your child knows you’re there to help with problem-solving.