It’s holiday time and your child takes the initiative to come out to whomever is present at your family’s gathering. His rationale may be to “ get it over with” and tell family members all at once. It may not be the appropriate time with so many distractions for such unexpected news. Will your family and friends accept this new information? Or, is he just telling you privately? Either way, you want to “get your lines right.”
This news can backfire your child’s intent as it could spark emotions such as shock, disbelief, rejection, anger, and confusion on your part. Rather than reacting too quickly to the news, make the conversation easier. Try these tips:
• Stay calm. The news may challenge your future expectations of your child, but with education and support, you will learn to accept his sexual orientation and gender identity. Find out what it means to be LGBT.
• You may want to work with a therapist who specializes in assisting LGBT teens. Now is not the time to show your disappointment.
• Be supportive now even if you have reservations about his sexual orientation. Tell your child that you love him just as much.
• Praise your child for having the confidence to reveal his gender identity and to trust you with this important information.
• “Be mindful of what you say in the weeks and months following the coming out as he will be sensitive,” advises Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., co-author of When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know (Sterling: 2016).
• Realize that this is just one of many conversations you will have in the future. Is your child being bullied in school?
Your level of acceptance can make a world of difference in your child’s self-esteem. Parental alienation can reinforce self-hatred, isolation, even suicide ideation.
• According to the Centers for Disease Control, the suicide rate for young people is up. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24.LGBT youth attempt suicide 5 x more than non-LGBT youth.
• If you can’t cope with the coming out, don’t banish your child to the streets or make life so miserable for him that he chooses to leave.
Life on the streets is not only scary but commonplace. Here are the mind-boggling facts:
• LGBTQ young people are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQ peers. True Colors Fund.org
• One in every 5 LGBT adults is homeless. Statistics from CreditDonkey.com/2/25/18 reveal that as many as 640,000 LEGBT youth are homeless. –
• Forty-six of homeless LGBT youth ran away because of family rejection.
• Forty-three percent are forced out of homes by their parents. Source: circlecarecenter.org/popular-stories /the-frightening-statistics-behind-lgbt-youth-homelessness.
Once on the streets, roughly 80% of homeless teens use drugs or alcohol and
are most likely trading sex to obtain the drugs/alcohol they use to self-medicate. As a result, their HIV rates are 3-9 times higher than the general U.S. population.
For parental support, try these reputable organizations:
• Everyone is Gay.com
For LGBTQ youth support and connections to LGBTQ population:
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.