What you should do when your child comes out

8 Feb

As a parent you think you are prepared for everything and know just what to do and say as well as how you will react to almost anything your child does or says. The reality is that in many cases when your child comes out of the closet and actually tells you they are gay or transgender everything often goes out the window. Even when you already have an idea they are gay it can still hit like a ton of bricks. While there is no set manual of rules to follow as everyone is different, there are some tips to make it go a bit smoother for them and you.

The first thing to do is relax. Don’t get flustered, don’t run them through the third degree of questions about why or how this happened. They don’t know those answers any better than you, they just know they are coming out. Let them say what they have to say without interrupting them. When they are done go ahead and ask them questions, but be reasonable about it. Only ask things geared at finding out what they think you can do to help them. Most times just listening and being non-judgmental is enough for them. Let them know you love them and that you are there for them. Laying a strong foundation for further communication is the best first step you can take.

The second step is to give them some space and allow them privacy. Don’t make the assumption that because they came out to you they are okay with you telling everyone. If they want you to broadcast this information they will let you know. Remember it is your child’s coming out process, it is not yours to do for them. They will tell people as they feel comfortable, it is possible that you are the first people your child has come out to.

Be supportive but don’t go overboard. It is not at all uncommon for parents to want to prove to their children they are okay with them coming out to the point they make the child wish they never did. There are tons of stories people relate as to how their parents went to the extreme and started trying to fix them up with people constantly or turn every topic into something LGBT related. Remember that while your child may be gay or transgeneder they are capable of choosing who they want to date on their own, and that being an LGBT person is only a part of who they are, not everything. If your gay son liked football before he came out he still will after. Nothing about their personal likes or dislikes have changed just because they came out.

To the other extreme don’t try to take a stand and “change” them into someone they are not to suit who you think you want them to be. If you have an LGBT child constantly badgering them to “Be more normal” or dwelling on how they used to be is doing neither of you any favors. They did not come out to hurt, embarrass, or try to change the way you feel about them. By coming out they are telling you how much they love, respect, and trust you. Do them the courtesy of returning that and not belittling them.

The final thing to do is take stock in yourself and be proud. You have done nothing wrong, you did not make your child an LGBT person, that is just how they are. Instead realize that you raised a very self aware child and have built a relationship with them which is so trusting that they are willing to share one of the most intimate aspects of their life with you. When most parents have trouble getting their child to tell them how their day was, yours is being incredibly open and trusting.

Again, it is important to remember there is not set formula for what you should do when your child comes out, but if you use common sense and treat them as you always have you are half way home to doing the best you can do. Love your child as much as you can, then love them a little more. This is a time when your child needs a lot of love and support, give them every ounce of each you have.

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