October 11 is the 31st annual LGBTQ Coming Out Day. The purpose of the day is to educate the public about LGBT orientation, reduce bullying, and support allies of the LGBT population in their fight for equality.
Although it would be ideal if everyone felt they could come out, LGBT children have their own timeline. Even if a parent thinks his child may be LGBTQ, it doesn’t do the child any good if the parent tries to push him into a confession. Shame and embarrassment may result and distance the child from the parent.
Of course, if your child doesn’t hear at home derogatory remarks about the LGBTQ population, he would feel safer and not intimidated to reveal his true self. If he lives in a home in which current LGBTQ issues are talked about positively, he may feel more comfortable about his orientation because he most likely knows that he won’t be rejected.
The child should come out when he’s ready. Let your child take the lead. This is one instance when the child knows better. When he does come out, find out if he has told others. Because it’s your child’s story, he/she/they may only be out to a few people he trusts and does not want everyone to know.
Be prepared for your child’s future coming out. Follow these recommendations from experts:
- “Make it his experience,” says Dr. Logan Stohle, Psy.D of Yellowbrick, a psychiatric center for young adults in Evanston, Illinois. “Don’t bring up your concerns at that time. Even if you don’t agree or understand your child’s sexual orientation, now is not the time to question. Just listen.”
- Author of When Your Child Is Gay:What You Need To Know ( Sterling: 2016), psychiatrist Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D. remarks: “parents can employ these subtle ways to make your LGBTQ child feel as supported as his heterosexual brother/sister by:
- Asking your child the same questions you ask your other children. Specifically, don’t avoid the topic of dating and relationships. Be sure to invite the significant other for family dinners or functions in the same way you would for a partner of a straight child. From time to time, make a point of asking your child how his significant others are doing, what are new with them, and so forth.
- Accept whatever your child tells you about his sexuality as hard fact and do not try to convince him/her/they that they must be either straight or gay.
- The most important thing is to make it clear to your child that sexual orientation is only one facet of his/her/they/ being and has no bearing on your acceptance or love for your child.
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.