What Constitutes Acceptance?
If a parent doesn’t want to march in a Gay Pride Parade, is he not accepting of his LGBT child? If a parent doesn’t write an amicus brief to the Supreme Court for the three cases being considered for the expansion of the Civil Rights Act of 1967 to cover sexual harassment and gender stereotyping at work, does that mean she’s not an ally of her child?
Acceptance, according to Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., co-author of When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know ( Sterling: 2016), involves acknowledging the reality of a particular situation and recognizing that this is not in your power to change it. The process of acceptance that a child has been through often mirrors the process that a parent will go through, only your child’s journey has begun before yours.
The most basic form of acceptance is not saying to your child that this is a “phase” that he will outgrow. You can demonstrate to your child in both words and actions that you will always love and support him/her unconditionally.
To the accepting parent, having a happy child is more important than having a child who fits a traditional binary mold. How do you express your acceptance? In words and deeds such as:
· Don’t harbor differences between your straight and gay child. Ask your LGBT child the same questions as your heterosexual child.
· Don’t avoid the topic of dating and other relationships.
· Talk to other family members and friends (with your LGBT child’s permission, of course) openly about your child being gay and share the same information you would with them about his dating life as you would about your straight child.
· Show interest in your LGBT child’s significant others! Include them in family meals, ask about them.
By following current news in our nation, your child may feel more accepted and not so alone. For example, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana is the youngest millenial in the Democratic run for President in 2020. Pete, a Harvard graduate, who speaks several languages, is gay, married to a teacher Chasten Glezman, and expects to have children. Author of Shortest Way Home, he is the first gay man to run for President and is #3 in the polls.
However, the starting point for acceptance is within your home. To love your child for whom she is and her sexuality doesn’t change that. Your only concern is that she is happy.
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.