What Do You Say to Your Child’s Coming Out?

sexuality,gay,parents,straight,homosexuality

My guest blogger is Wesley Davidson.  She is writing, with a psychiatrist, an advice book for straight parents of gay teens.

As a straight parent, you probably will find his announcement shocking, painful, and off-putting. Try not to respond with volcanic anger, silence or remarks negating his/her same-sex orientation. Remember that it is a supreme compliment that your child has revealed his private life and inner self even though it means the loss of your expectations for what you thought was a heterosexual child. Be patient with your self and your child. Contain your withered hopes. While you may not accept your child being gay at first, that’s okay. With time and support, you may later not only come around but celebrate your child’s orientation.  So, muzzle your disappointment.

Your child probably knows he is disappointing you.  While your child has probably thought about his announcement for a long time, you have only a few moments to respond. Here’s what you could say:

  • “I love you no matter what.  I’ll always be your parent. “ Children want to know that their sexual orientation will not affect your love for them. The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University found that positive family attitudes and behaviors protect against depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts.
  • It’s okay to tell your child you don’t know much about same-sex orientation or that you have concerns for him.  Ask him to educate you about homosexuality. This is one area in which the child knows more than the parent! But you can educate yourself too.
  • You need to get the information and support to understand what your child is experiencing.
  •  Join a support group for parents such as PFLAG with nationwide chapters, talk to nonjudgmental friends, those who have gay children, and gay friends or coworkers – those who’ve “been there.”
  • Get a list of books and internet sites that can enlighten you.
  • If you already reacted badly, it’s never too late to say you’re sorry and say something like “you know, you really surprised me when you came out. I know I shouldn’t have reacted in that way.  I just want you to know that I love you and I’m always there for you!”
  • Ask your child if there is any family member he wants you to tell of his new identity.  Don’t “out” him to anyone without his permission.
  • Don’t ask him if he’s “sure,” or try to change his sexuality to make YOU feel better.
  • Keep the dialogue going in the future with reassurance, support, interest, and good listening. These positive directives will encourage him to talk with you.

For more tips on improving your relationships with your straight parents, see Wesley Davidson’s blog: http://straightparentgaykid.blogspot.com

My guest blogger is Wesley Davidson.  She is writing, with a psychiatrist, an advice book for straight parents of gay teens.

Flickr Image From ep_jhu

4 thoughts on “What Do You Say to Your Child’s Coming Out?”

  1. “As a straight parent, you probably will find his announcement shocking, painful, and off-putting.” I did not find my son’s coming out as any of those. I was enormously proud of him. I was  thrilled that he had the courage to step up and let the world know who is he. I was deliriously happy for him because I knew what a significant and empowering rite of passage this was for. My straight friends who are parents of gay kids had the same sentiments I did about their child’s coming out. I do believe there are probably parents out there who react badly to this situation. But making the statement that  a straight parent is “probably” upset or off-put by this is an enormous assumption you should be careful about making.

  2. Dear Katy, Thank you for commenting on my blogspot.  I am glad your son’s(as well as your friends’s children’s) coming out went so well.  My research and my co-author’s findings show that most parents do not take this revelation well, at least initially. Wesley Davidson

  3. Thank you for your comment, Katy.  I’m glad you and your friends had a good experience with your children’s coming out.  Studies and my co-author’s findings do not reflect such acceptance initially. Wesley Davidson

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