Your teenage child has just come out to you. While it may have been a major experience for you, it’s even bigger for them. The teenage years are formative ones. Your child is trying to figure out who they are all while trying to fit in amongst the crowds. When he or she comes out, your child is looking for support and direction. If you’ve never experienced this before or encountered any other parents who have insight, you might be at a loss for what to do. You know that you want to support them, but you’re not sure how you can do this.
The most important thing is to approach the subject in a state of calm. If your teen has just come out, let the information sink in. Don’t go with a gut reaction (unless it is supportive), especially when you haven’t fully comprehended the scope of their confession. Be a great listener first and foremost before you do or decide anything.
One of the best ways to be supportive is to simply let them know you’ll be there. Reaffirm your love for them regardless of their sexuality. So many parents abandon their teens, kick them out, or subject them to harmful (and potentially deadly) conversion therapy. An aggressively negative reaction can have long-lasting effects on your teen.
You’ll need to exhibit patience. This is a situation in which you’re navigating new territory as well as your teen. Your teen might realize that they’re gay but not know much beyond that. He or she needs to establish what this means. And you need to give them the necessary time to do so. They may not have all the answers, and neither will you. It’s important to give their LGBT narrative time to develop.
While it may be difficult to process the information and identify with your teen’s struggle, you have to understand that it takes tremendous courage to affirm identity at such a young age. If they’re coming to you for this conversation, it’s out of love and respect for you. You need to let them know you understand the challenges and bravery involved in revealing their sexuality.
It’s also crucial to think about long-term support for your teen and for you. Look into community resources that may be available. There may be local organizations that provide support for families with gay teens (an LGBTQ center, aka gay & lesbian center). You’ll also want to explore your teen’s safety at school. Maybe their coming out is accepted without problem at school. But for many teens, bullying becomes an issue that can have a detrimental psychological impact. Look into what protections your teen’s school has in place. Even consider family therapy if you feel professional help is needed to help support your teenager.
As the parent of a gay teen, you need to educate yourself. Learn about sexual orientation and the LGBTQ community. Come to conversations with your teen from a place of knowledge and love.
When your teen comes out, he or she is looking to you for guidance. You may not know exactly what to do, but you can support them in a multitude of ways. If you are looking for a therapist in Long Beach, Lakewood, Rossmoor, or surrounding area, please call me or email me to set up an appointment so I can help you find ways to support your teen.