A Navigation Guide for Parents of LGBTQIA+ Youth
With June being deemed as National Pride Month, the commercialization and capitalization of the LGBTQIA+ Community by corporations in The United States may leave a cloudy view of what lies beneath a sea of brightly-covered merchandise: the individuals.
Regardless of politics, it is safe to say that the media has made it far too easy to dilute the concept of human sexuality and gender. At the forefront of Pride Month, we see a movement, a “cause,” and fail to see the real individuals that exist as members of our community, our coworkers, friends, and even sometimes: our children.
Navigating the parental role for LGBTQIA+ youth may not have been something many parents prepare for at all, especially within a variety of faith-based households and cultures. A child’s disclosure of information about their sexuality or gender often presents itself as significant news; that’s because it is.
Remember: your child is learning and experiencing the world while under your care. The way that you approach, engage and react towards your child after they share information with you- regardless of your perceived significance of it- has the ability to change the way they approach, engage, and react with you in return.
A few tips to keep in mind while conversing with your child or teen about their sexuality and/or gender identity:
Acknowledging the difficulty your child may experience while sharing deeply personal and, at times, taboo information with you and your family is the simplest initial response a parent can offer.
Allow Them to Lead the Conversation. Letting your child lead the conversation about their own identity may be difficult at first, requiring you to practice self control and discipline (especially if your mind has a million questions racing through it!) Pause. Pace your questions. Prepare that your child may not have all the answers! Lastly, maintain and regulate your own emotions- just as you expect your child to do the same.
Practice Active Listening. Despite religious ideology or previous personal beliefs you may have, it is crucial that your child know that you are actively seeking to understand their point of view.
Provide Respect to your child as they attempt to verbalize their thoughts with you; allow them to speak, without interruption, until they confirm that they are done speaking. Encouraging mutual respect between caregiver and child sets the precedent for them to provide respect in return.
Provide Verbal Confirmation of Unconditional Love. While you may or may not automatically assume your child knows your perception of them has not changed, providing verbal confirmation that you will love them unconditionally is the best way to communicate that you feel that way.
Avoid Judgement, Lead with Love. While we can’t always anticipate the thoughts of our children or the little intricacies within the lives that they lead, one thing remains steadfast: they’re our children; the same children we bore, the same children we changed and fed, and the same children that will belong to us until the end of time.
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Lead with Love. Converse with Compassion. Love Unconditionally.
If you need help navigating a tough conversation with your youth,
counselors at The Vine Wellness Group are here to help.