Parents of LGBTQ Children

All parents want what's best for their kids. But providing support isn't always easy. Especially if you are the parent of an LGBTQ or questioning child. In many ways no different from their peers, LGBTQ youth face some unique challenges that parents often feel unprepared to tackle. Here are some steps you can take to keep your kid happy and healthy.

1. Let Them Know They're Loved

For many LGBTQ youth, breaking the news to mom and dad is the scariest part of coming out. "Time and time again, we hear the same thing from patients: Once my parents are behind me, I can handle anything else the world throws at me. You're their anchor, and your acceptance is key. In fact, research shows that LGBTQ adolescents who are supported by their families grow up to be happier and healthier adults.

You don't need to be an expert in all things LGBTQ to let them know you care. There's no right or wrong way to express love. Just be present and be open. Even if you're not sure what to say, something as simple as, I'm here for you. I love you, and I will support you no matter what, can mean the world to your child.

2. Encourage Dialogue

As you're likely well aware, getting your kids to open up can feel impossible. the best way to do this is to build trust and start small. Get to know their friends and what they like to do. Ask them how their day went and if they learned anything interesting in school. If it's like pulling teeth at times, don't be discouraged. Children really do want to be able to talk to parents about what's going on in their lives.

These conversations may seem like no-brainers, but staying connected to your child's world makes it easier for them to approach you with bigger, more complex issues, like sexuality. The more you communicate with your child, the more comfortable they'll feel.

3. Get Them Talking

You can't always rely on your children to initiate these exchanges. When you feel something needs to be discussed, try being less direct. Adolescents often have a hard time talking about themselves. Instead, bring up their friends or characters you encounter while watching age-appropriate movies or television together.

Today's media provide plenty of teachable moments for parents to seize. While it may seem less personal, it is an opportunity to broach sensitive topics in a way that's not so scary. For instance, if a movie has a bisexual character, spark a conversation by saying the character in this show is attracted to boys and girls. "That's OK with me. What do you think?"

4. Learn the Facts

There are a lot of misconceptions about gender and sexual orientation. Empower your parenting in the following ways:

  1. - Its not "just a phase." Embrace, dont dismiss their evolving sense of self.
  2. - There is no "cure." It is not something that needs to be fixed.
  3. - Don't look for blame. Instead, celebrate your child and all that they are.

5. Stay on Top of Social Media

Because they're often discouraged from being open about their sexual orientation and gender identity, some LGBTQ individuals rely on social media and phone applications to meet others. Many social platforms (like us) and apps provide LGBTQ youths an inclusive space to connect with friends and allies, but some (especially dating apps) include content that is inappropriate for teens.

Monitor what they're doing on their devices and talk to them about phone and social media use. More importantly, understand that kids turn to these apps if they feel like they don't have anyone to talk to. Be available so that your child doesn't need to look elsewhere for guidance and support.