If you’re like most parents, the holidays serve as a time to reconnect with family, enjoy delicious food, and escape from the daily grind of work. It’s also a chance to share family traditions (recipes, rituals, etc.) with your children. But for some of you, Thanksgiving may have become far more significant for your child. Though it’s not because of the rites of passage you’re sharing. It’s because they’ve chosen this holiday to come out of the closet.
Parents go through a range of emotions when their child comes out. Some parents are angry-they feel betrayed by their faith and become ultimately disappointed in their child’s potential. Some are simply shocked. Others are prepared to love and comfort their child. Regardless of which category you fall into, it’s important to understand why your child chose this time to reveal such a big truth to you.
Unlike Christmas or other big family holidays during the year, Thanksgiving is steeped in tradition-not religion. Revealing homosexuality during a faith-based holiday can be stressful as many children are taught that their sexuality is a sin. Coming out during a heavily religious holiday doesn’t just cause anxiety; it can foster a potentially volatile response from you. Especially if you are parents of strong faith. Thanksgiving is usually a lighter, nondenominational option.
When your children come home for the holidays, they’re faced with reminders of who they were. If they’ve been away at college or off living their own adult lives, they’ve had the pleasure of living freely. Returning to their childhood bedroom or the dinner table where they suppressed their true identity for so long can be overwhelming. Even if their ‘coming out plan’ wasn’t some highly orchestrated event, simply returning to their restrictive roots can be enough of a trigger to reveal the truth.
Thanksgiving is also a time to tell as many people as possible. Odds are, you’re not the only ones at the dinner table. Aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and all kinds of extended family will be there. This holiday is a time for your child to unload the truth and, after the holiday, head back to their new home free of a big burden. Plus, they’ll probably also be telling close friends who’ve come back home for the holiday. Coming out at Thanksgiving isn’t convenient per se, but it is strategic. You have to remember that sometimes, it’s the only time they will see their whole family in one spot so everyone can be told in person.
It’s important that you understand the reasoning behind this and also understand that your holiday hasn’t been ruined. The news may or may not be unexpected, but it’s news nonetheless. Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks. Perhaps you can be thankful that your child trusts you enough with this information. They are handing their heart to you and it is your choice what you do with that.
Thanksgiving is a time of connection. A celebration of gratitude. In the spirit of what this holiday represents, it’s your duty as a parent to express as much empathy as you can and keep connecting with your child. They haven’t come out over the holiday to disrupt the environment. They’ve done this out of love for you, the rest of your family, and themselves. Once you understand this, you can move forward with acceptance and healing.