Supporting Your LGBTQ+ Child
LGBTQ+ youth are some of the most vulnerable groups that are out in the world today. With the fear of backlash, community shunning, and overall lack of support it can be hard to know who to trust with their sexuality or how they identify. Unfortunately, there are still many myths surrounding the LGTBQ+ community making it difficult to truly be themselves around their family and friends. By being a supportive parent in their life, you’re not only showing that you love them unconditionally but you’re providing them with the pivotal and necessary support that is essential to reducing LGBTQ+ teen suicide rates, dropout rates, trauma, and more.
How To Support Your LGBTQ+ Child
Firstly, to be able to show true support for your child and who they are, it’s important to look inwards. Understand that it’s okay to have mixed feelings of guilt, fear, or anxiety. This is a rather new experience for both of you, and validating your feelings can help build a solid emotional foundation for which you can build for your child. What’s important now is that your child was comfortable enough to come to you and seek your guidance and love. This is not the time to shy away from giving your child extra support.
Ask what you can do for them. This may seem like a no-brainer, but truly understanding their needs and wants can go a long way in helping them feel okay in their skin. Do they want to attend therapy sessions? Enroll in LGBTQ+ groups? Go on hormones? Having these discussions opens the floor of understanding and mutual respect for one another. Compromising with one another and truly learning to lean into your parental love can make the difference they need.
Showing acceptance can look like different things depending on the person. If the extended family has a hard time accepting your child for who they are, perhaps it would be best to limit contact with them or correct family members on pronouns, sexual orientation, or stereotypes. Most of the time, your child wants to feel like you are in their corner, despite who may be the opponent on the other side of the ring. Showing acceptance both inside and outside of the home gives your child a sense of confidence to be who they are and show them that you are there no matter what.
A Loving Environment Goes A Long Way
When your child leaves the house each morning to go to school, they are stepping out into a world that may be filled with judgment, harsh words, and unkind people. Receiving this at school or in after-school sports as well as the home can lead to a series of mental health problems, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, and withdrawal from the things they love. Providing a safe, loving environment for your child to thrive in can give them the peace they need to get through the school day or open up to you or a trusted peer about what they’re facing.
Although, sometimes, no matter how supportive or loving you may be your child still may not want to open up to you and share their thoughts. This is okay. Forcing an interaction between the two of you to try and get the information they don’t want to share can have the opposite effect of what you ideally would like. Try suggesting an LGBTQ+ friendly therapist or therapy group, and be there for them when they do need you. Showing support, acceptance, and love to your LGBTQ+ teen can foster a healthy environment of understanding and love in which your child can feel safe.
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