LGBTQ teens face unique challenges and can thrive when parents and other family members accept and support them just the way they are. Acceptance and support from family members is critical in helping LGBTQ teens deal with risk factors, like depression and anxiety. Individual and family therapy, support groups and LGBTQ ally organizations can all play a vital role in ensuring your family has access to the resources they need. So, what should you do if your child comes out to you?
Let Them Know You Love Them
Children need love and acceptance at all ages, but particularly in adolescence. For many LGBTQ teens, coming out to their parents can be the hardest part of their journey. Even if you feel blindsided and don’t know what to say, show them love. Something as simple as, “I’m here for you and love you no matter what,” can make a huge difference in how they feel about themselves and let them know they have someone to turn to when they need help.
Getting any teenager to open up often feels like an uphill battle. Facilitating open communication can make it easier for your child to talk with you about complex issues like sexuality. Start with more casual, light conversation to let them know you’re interested in their life. Ask them how their day went, how school is going, how their friends are doing, and what they like to do.
These small steps help build trust and can lead to a stronger, closer relationship. Embrace their evolving sense of self and celebrate your child for who they are. The more positive communication you have with your child, the more comfortable they’ll feel about opening up to you.
Build a Social Support Network
If you’re having a hard time, reach out for help. Educating yourself about the issues your child may be facing can empower you to provide the support they need and help you find healing. Talk with a therapist, and seek LGBTQ support resources in your community and online. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a family and LGBTQ ally organization that provides support for thousands of families around the country.
Help your child find the resources they need as well. Communicate with your child’s educators and other important people in their lives. Encourage them to become involved in groups like gay/straight alliance at their school. Individual therapy can give your child someone to confide in without feeling judged. Although online groups and social media provide support to LGBTQ teens as well, make sure to keep an eye on what they’re doing to keep them safe.
Individual and family therapy can help you better understand and support your LGBTQ teen and help them grow into a happy, healthy, confident adult. Contact a family therapist at Kayenta to schedule an appointment.