Don’t Freak Out
This is easier said than done. Most people today know and love others within the LGBTQ+ Community. Hearing this news from your child can feel very different than hearing it from a friend or distant family relation. This “coming out” that your child has shared with you has likely been a long time coming for them. The fact that they are sharing this with you is a good thing. It means that they want you to know them and that they trust you. This trust may be tentative and your response matters.
Don’t Shame Your Child
Out of fear for our child, we may want to start with what we believe to be right and wrong about being LGBTQ+. If you are a Christian and have raised your children as such, starting the conversation here can be damaging to the relationship. They likely already know what you believe. It is possible that they have experienced significant shame around their gender or sexuality. They have wrestled with this for a long time. A part of that wrestling has been questioning what they believe about scripture and God. There will be opportunity to talk about these things. Now is the time to express how you feel about your child. Share your love for them.
Don’t Ignore It
Sometimes when we are uncomfortable, we ignore what seems to be the “problem” with the hope that it will go away. This will not just go away. It is okay to ask questions about how your child came to this conclusion. Ask to hear what their journey has been like. How did it feel to them to be questioning their sexuality or gender while growing up in your home or your church? The answers may not be easy to hear, but there is opportunity to grow closer to one another through this process.
Do Tell Your Child You Love Them
Your love for your child may seem obvious to you, but it may not be to them. One of the consequences of having a secret is that people often deflect love and affection with thoughts such as, “If you knew the truth about me, you wouldn’t really love me.” When your child decides to share the truth about themself with you, it comes with the question, “Do you really love me?” Let them know you love them. Make sure there are no “buts” attached to the statement. “I love you, but I disagree,” negates the message of love. Again, there will be opportunity to discuss differing perspectives later.
Do Give Yourself Time to Adjust
This news is a big deal. It may be a total surprise to you. As a parent, you cannot help but wonder how being LGBTQ+ will affect your child’s future. There is often a huge mismatch in what your child is feeling and what you are experiencing. They have had time to think through this and are likely feeling relieved and celebratory. You may be feeling like a grenade just went off. It is okay to ask for a little time to process the information. It is also okay to ask for a little grace from your child as you adjust to the news and make mistakes along the way.
Do Get Support for Yourself
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your child is to get support for yourself. Find a group of other parents who are experiencing a similar situation. In that group, you can process your feelings and ask questions that might not yet be appropriate to talk with your child about. You can learn from one another’s mistakes and successes together. WGA has a group for parents, and you can find more info about that by clicking here.
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