The world has suddenly stopped turning, your life changed forever. Your child has just calmly told you that he or she is gay. This is a situation that is faced by hundreds of parents. But how do you handle it. The most important thing is that your reaction be honest and does not alienate them.
Every parent has dreams for their children. Dreams of financial success and equally important dreams for a happy family life. As a society, it is in our subconscious that a happy family life equates marriage to someone of the opposite sex and a couple of healthy kids
As a parent who is confronted with the news ‘I am gay mum and dad’, your dreams are immediately shattered.
Typical thoughts that go through a parents mind are
‘That joke is not funny’ or
‘What will the neighbours, friends, society think?’ or
‘It’s my fault, I must have done something wrong in your childhood’
Whatever runs through your mind you have to remember this
- This is about your child, not about you. Do not make the center of the discussion your feelings and your thought. Make it about your child’s feelings and their thoughts
- Give them a chance to talk to you. The reason a child comes out to their parents is they want you the parent to know about this, they want you to understand what they are going through and hopefully for you to accept and love them, gay or not. Make sure that channels of communication are kept open. The only person that loses when you refuse to talk about it is you, the parent
- Realise that no matter how liberal a household you run, it takes a lot of courage for your child to come out to you. Respect that they trust you enough to do this and recognise the courage it has taken
- Understand that being gay is not a decision your child made. He or she was probably as bewildered as you are when he realised that he was gay. Studies have shown that gay or bisexual people are that way from the start. No-one chooses to be gay just as no-one chooses to be straight.
- Don’t question their certainty of their sexuality: By the time a child comes out to his or her parents, you can be certain that they are sure that they are in fact gay. He or she would have subconsciously argued the decision to tell you for a while, probably discussed it with a friend or partner, examined and re-examined themselves. Coming out to parents is not a spur of the moment thing. By asking them if they are sure, you risk insulting your child’s intelligence
- Support your child: Being gay or lesbian is not the easiest of lifestyles. Your child has just told you he or she belongs to a group of people that are still misunderstood and harassed today. Even in the 21st century, being gay or lesbian is still a daunting thing. No matter how liberal we say we are, the amount of gay bashing that still goes on paints a different picture.Gay bashing is as rampant today as it ever was. Your child needs your support
Really, your child coming out to you is not the worst thing that can happen to you. Instead it opens up a new set of challenges which you can conquer together.