You just had one of the most emotional conversations with your child - NOW WHAT? Here are some very specific things that will help you move your relationship forward and show up as the parent you want to be in this moment of your child's life. You want to be supportive but are worried you might take a wrong step. These strategies will help you show up with love and help you stay connected to your child.
FOCUS ON HOW YOUR CHILD IS SHOWING YOU GREAT TRUST Your child has thought a lot about this moment and this has taken a great amount of courage to have this conversation with you. Try not to react negatively even if you have strong feelings. If you judge your child, or express disapproval, you will do nothing to change your child's identity, but you will hurt them and make them feel rejected and uncared for and could do permanent damage to your relationship. Be honored and amazed that your child has trusted you enough to share this very vulnerable information with you.
STAY IN THE PRESENT - leave the future in the future Your brain will try to go to the future and try to make predictions why this is hard and awful for your child and your family. Don't think about the future -Stay Present. You don't know what your child's future will be- you never did. Handle today and your child's needs today. The future is always a story we tell ourselves. Be careful on what future story your brain is telling you about your child's life.
TREAT THIS INFORMATION AS CLASSIFIFED INFORMATION Telling another person about your child’s sexuality you are automatically ‘outing’ them to that person. Remember, it has taken your child some time before telling you that they are LGBTQ. So be sensitive, and talk with your child first. Your child may wish to inform other people themselves in their own time, or they may prefer you to do this for them, but always consult with your child before telling anyone.
GET SUPPORT FOR YOU The shock of hearing your child is LGBTQ can last for hours, days, weeks, months. No two parents react the same way. Give yourself time to come to terms with the new situation. You need to find a safe place where you can talk and process all the emotions that can feel overwhelming. Finding the right support will get you the skills you need to navigate life as an LGBTQ parent. You getting the right support will be the best gift you can give to yourself and your child in this moment.
FOCUS ON WHO YOUR CHILD IS Your child is the same person they were before you knew this new information. Remember, sexuality is just a small part of your child. Hyper-focusing on their sexuality can do harm to your relationship with your child. They are still the amazing talented child that you raised. Most of your dreams and wishes for your child don't have to change just because they identify as LGBTQ, Their life might look different than what you had envisioned but that doesn't mean they can't still have a happy, fulfilling, meaningful life.
DON'T ASSUME THIS IS A PHASE Dismissing your child’s identity as a phase will make it seem like you are not taking them seriously or supporting them. If your child tells you that they are LGBTQ, please take their word for it - doing anything else will leave your child with a feeling that they can't trust you.
WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE? Continue to do what you have always done together. Your child might fear that coming out will change everything in their lives and this can be frightening. The more assurances you can give your child that your love and their place in your family and community hasn't changed, the better it will be for your child's mental well-being. Ask them questions on what they need today and right now. It might be a counselor or it might be nothing. Asking them what they need continues to build trust with them. Ask specific questions on how you, their family and your church family can best support them. The best thing you can do is to keep talking and asking questions. Don't assume you know what your child needs.
How you handle this moment in your child's life can be a determining factor on your future relationship. You will make some mistakes but if you stick to the above strategies your mistakes will be minor.
If you need additional help and resources please reach out. I have seen the amazing fruits of love and understanding in my client's lives when they invest in finding a safe person to process their emotions without judgment. This can be an overwhelming time and getting help to manage your emotions is really key to becoming the parent you want to be.
Even one session can teach you some valuable parenting strategies. Book a free consult strategy session to get some immediate LGBTQ parenting tools.