-Mayah Taylor, MA
The coming out process is just that… a process. It can be difficult and very emotional for a LGBTQ teen. It should also be known that coming out is not just a single moment where a member of the LGBTQ community is sharing their gender identity or sexual orientation with another person. It’s actually a lifelong journey. A lifelong journey and process of sharing one’s gender identity and sexual orientation with others. It is because of this, that parents need to know what they can do to make this journey easier.
Your role as your teen’s parent is to provide them love and support and to keep them safe. It is important that you continue to do this even after your teen comes out to you. The best response to your teen coming out is to give your teen a hug or show them love. Even if your teen coming out to you leaves you in shock or unsure how to react, a good response is to reassure them and to let them know you are in their corner and that you love them no matter what.
Having your teen come out to you as LGBTQ can be shocking and at times difficult to understand. For some parents having your child come out to you can be harder to accept than for other parents. It can also be a scary time for parents as well as you teen. As hard as it can be to digest your teen coming out to you, be sure to keep an open mind to your teen and their feelings. Remaining open can allow you to better understand your teen as well as understand the LGBTQ community.
When your teen comes out to you, processing your feelings may take some time. While you are processing, it can be helpful to take additional time out to gain more knowledge and information and learn more about what it means to be a member of the LGBTQ community. There are also different LGBTQ supportive organizations around the world and in your communities that can serve as valuable resource centers to help parents as they educate themselves. Educating yourself as a parent can help promote conversation and build a foundation of support for your teen.
It’s important to also have patience with your teen. Sometimes parents may suspect that their teen may identify as LGBTQ before the teen comes out. Be patient with your child. Understand that they are trying to explore, understand, and process their emotions and feelings. Know that when they feel comfortable and safe they will come to you when they are ready. Understanding that your teen does not have all the answers as they themselves may still be learning and exploring how they are feeling. You should also allow space to explore your fears and grief as your teen goes on this journey of self-discovery.
Parents don’t always know how to best support their teen when they come out. It’s not always easy to know the right or wrong thing to do as a parent to an LGBTQ teen. We hope that the info we shared with you in this blog can be helpful in your own journey with your teen. The core point to best help your teen when they are coming out is to be supportive. Remember that even though you may not understand what is going on with your teen, you can still support them as a human (and as your child). With your support, your teen’s journey will be positively impacted. Parents. You may also need a safe space to talk about your family’s journey through this transition. PFLAG is a support group for the LGBT community that helps to educate parents, friends and families. The group (formerly Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) has 400 chapters across the country. And of course please reach out to Life Cycles Counseling for more support and resources.
If you liked this blog, check out the previous week’s blog where we talk about 10 Things Your LGBTQ Teen Wants You to Know