Raising Queer Children: Thoughts for Parents

Being a parent of an LGBTQ+ child is a very meaningful and sometimes delicate role to play. Coming out is a lifelong process for people who are gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, etc. that consists of exploration, understanding, and then sharing their identity with others. Playing the role of a parent can sometimes be stressful as you are not sure how to respond and react properly to unfamiliar situations, but we want to acknowledge that if you are taking these steps to improve, that already shows your immense capabilities as a loving and competent parent. 

Let’s start with something that seems obvious but is an important reminder: everyone processes events or realizations differently and the experiences of your family are unique to any other. It is important not to assume anything about your child’s experiences, but parental instincts are there for a reason. If you observe your child or children are going through some physical and/or mental changes, there is no shame in acknowledging that. Sometimes parents feel awkward addressing what they notice because they are worried about how the child will receive the parents’ comments, but as long as a curious, non-judgmental or even appreciative outlook is taken, the conversation should head in a safe direction. Some examples include, “Hey, I noticed you started wearing baseball caps more. How do they feel?” or “I noticed that you hang out with your friends less. How would you feel about talking to me if something is going on with your friends?” Another way to help your child open up to you without being forceful is expressing allyship in a way that is not excessive or performative. It is best not to assume that your child feels safe to confide in you because even if your behaviors or beliefs may seem obvious to you, children can struggle to recognize that. 

When someone is ready to share their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, this can come in many forms. As a general concept, LGBTQ+-identified people are often prepared on how to come out by following an “announcement” format to their parents. An example of this would be a child sitting their parents down and sparking up a conversation about their sexual orientation. But, if your child effectively “skips over” that stage and instead comes out by bringing home an LGBTQ+ partner, for example, that is just as crucial a moment for them as a traditional coming out would be. It is important to remember that the “coming out conversation” can happen any time or not at all, and that completely depends on what your child feels more comfortable with rather than a reflection of you as a parent. In any case, make sure to outwardly express that you love and accept them. Sometimes parents want to jump straight to questions, but it is better to express your continued love and support first and foremost, even if those inquiries are just innocent curiosity. Lastly, remember not to treat a child’s identity as taboo or avoid bringing it up around others (depending on your child’s comfortability). No matter how supportive a parent may be to their child directly, pretending like a part of someone’s identity does not exist or is shameful could create a sense of guilt and embarrassment for your child and rupture the support and trust you have been working on building. By reading this article, you are already showing interest and curiosity, and that in itself will help you and your family on this journey.

If you are looking for any parental support during this process, please feel free to Call, Text or Email us any time at 240-274-5680 and Admin@HealingLLC.com. In the meantime, please take good care of yourself!