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Advice for parents when your child comes out, from Grace Mange of My Kid is Gay
If you are the parent of an LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer or Questioning, and others) child, and are feeling confused or unsure of what to do, you are not alone. Your child has learned something new about themselves, and trusts you enough to share this information with you. This is good news. Congratulations.
That being said, coming out can be a scary, nerve-wracking process both for the LGBTQ+ person and those around them. Believe it or not, you as a parent have your own coming out process to go through: one that takes time, patience, and learning.
Lots of parents find themselves not knowing where to even begin this process, so here are five concrete things you can do today to learn more about your child and their identity.
1. Tell them you love them
These are the single most important words right now. Tell them you love them, no matter what.
‘It’s OK to admit that you feel nervous or confused’
If you feel up to it, tell them you want to learn more about what their LGBTQ+ identity means to them. It’s OK to admit that you feel nervous or confused right now, but piggyback this with, ‘But I will work hard to understand.’
Aside from conveying your support, there are some logistical things that you may need to discuss. Who, if anyone, is your child comfortable with you talking to? Is your child using a different name or pronouns? Do they feel safe at school?
2. Find your support system
Is there a community support group near you? Do you have other family members that you (and your child) would feel comfortable talking to?
You don’t have to do everything yourself right now; if you have someone who can support you during the process, find that support system — the sooner, the better.
3. Do your research, and get your questions answered
It’s OK to ask questions! In fact, having questions shows that you are able and willing to learn more about this new part of your kid’s life, which is amazing.
It is normal for some children to not feel comfortable or willing to answer every single one of their parent’s questions.
There are so many great resources available online to help you learn more about being the parent of an LGBTQ kid.
My Kid Is Gay is a website with advice, support, and resources for parents of LGBTQ+ young people, and is an excellent starting place for you in this process.
4. Sign up for our Coming Out With Care package
In honour of National Coming Out Day in the US, My Kid Is Gay created a free electronic care package.
The Coming Out With Care package sends you an e-mail with advice, resources, tools for self-care like a music playlist and guided journaling pages, and a free excerpt of This Is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids (Chronicle, 2014).
You can sign up for your own e-care package by clicking here.
5. Let love guide you
This may sound cliché, but it is perhaps the most important advice for you right now. This is a process of learning and questioning things that you always thought to be true.
While some coming out processes can be harder than others, you are bound to come up against some obstacles along the way. When those conflicts arise, or when you feel overwhelmed with these changes, remember the love you have for your child, and let that love guide you around the curves.
What to do if your child has not come out to you as LGBTQ+, but you suspect they may be
Your conversation with your child will most likely look different in this scenario, as asking them directly about their sexual orientation or gender identity may do more harm than good.
Here’s some advice on what do to if you are unsure about whether you should ask.
The advice published on Parent Info is provided by independent experts in their field and not necessarily the views of Parent Zone or CEOP.
First published: January 2017
Updated: May 2018