It’s not always easy to love unconditionally, especially when your lifelong dreams for your child have been shattered. Like most straight parents, your child’s coming out has probably precipitated intense uncomfortable feelings in you such as anger(Why our family?), denial(how could she know?), guilt(what did I do to cause this?), shame(I can’t tell anyone), fear(what if he gets Aids, and gets fired for being gay?), or loss(what happened to my dream of son-in-law, biological grandchildren, and traditional marriage?). These normal issues at first may interfere with effectively parenting your teen.
Those issues may also lead to resentment which makes unconditional love challenging. It helps to put matters in check by:
· Remembering that this is the same child you’ve always loved.
· Even if you disapprove of homosexuality, it is possible to “love the sinner, but not the sin.”
· While her/his news may be a jolt, it’s also a compliment that your child feels “safe” enough and loved enough to trust you with this confession.
· You may be worried about your future, but think how your kid must feel. She faces harassment in school, possible firing at a future job and other discriminations.
· Make your home a haven, a refuge from the vulnerabilities of his present and his doubts about his future.
To work through this omnipresent angst, which may be an obstacle preventing your unconditional love, try the following suggestions:
· Find a support group such as PFLAG(Parents of Lesbians and Gays) with nationwide chapters.
· Talk to trusting, nonjudgmental friends.
· Seek out parents “who’ve been there” with GLBT children.
· You may want for now individual therapy until you are ready to “share” your concerns with others.
· Read, read, read. There are books written for straight parents of gay children, books written by GLBT adults, all for enlightening you.
· Let your child educate you. He knows how it feelsto be gay.
This Valentine’s Day, as well as other calendar days, give an extra dose of love to your
gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender child. Chocolates and gift certificates are nice presents, but the greatest gift, which lasts a lifetime, is unconditional love.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.