February is National Heart Month. Most magazine articles and health columns stress the physical aspects of a healthy heart: the alarming statistics of heart attacks in the U.S., heart attack signs and how you can prevent them with a Mediterranean diet rich in plant-based foods. Many have self-quizzes designed to snare you into reading the pieces.
But seldom is written in February about the domino effect that stress and conflict have on the heart. – the overpowering feelings that make your heart race, leaving you feeling dizzy. While olive oil and eggplant may be good for your heart, they don’t do a whole lot for your emotional state.
Angst Is An =Opportunity Abuser
Straight parents who constantly worry about their LGBT’s children’s futures that they have little control over or what their church parishioners will say when they find out their children are gay are in a constant state of turmoil, whipping up a tempest of anxieties, setting their hearts off -kilter. Fear takes hold.
Their children, in turn, worry, maybe even feel guilty, because they think they have caused the imbalance in their Mother and Father. The worry and fear in the parents begat the same feelings in the children and so the insidious cycle continues within the family. Your child becomes the victim, taking in the most collateral damage. They share in the indigestion of the material.
While many GLBT children expect their parents to be surprised at news of their sexual orientation, what the child does not expect is rejection. The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State has done studies on the effects of parental rejection and has found that LGBT children who are not accepted unconditionally are at greater risk for drug abuse, promiscuity, truancy, homelessness, and even suicide. They are dragged into those unhealthy places.
Tea And Sympathy
Gay or straight, your child is still your child. If you are broadsided by his sexual orientation, it may be helpful to talk to other parents of gays, find a PFLAG (Parents for Lesbian and Gays), a gay-friendly therapist so your heart and mind will be more at ease with one another.
This month, as well as the other eleven, have a heart. Whatever you’re experiencing that is unsettling, imagine what your child is confronting!
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.