“My son told me not to tell his father that he really feels like a girl. Did I let him play with girls too much?”
“I asked my daughter why her best friend identifies as lesbian, and she told me she thinks she may be one too. I’m sure she is not.”
When teens come out, the world shifts. Some parents respond with denial, wanting to diminish the news. Others feel anger and want to find out who is responsible. Some parents feel sadness, anticipating a loss of shared values, a loss of future. Denial, anger, and sadness are all important aspects of grief processing, and for many parents, responding to a child’s coming out is a grief experience.
Most children talk with their parents only after years of trying to figure out what is really happening inside, and when they finally tell parents, those years are condensed into a moment that – to a parent – may feel like a dropped bomb.
After listening to hundreds of stories of parents responding to their children’s expressions of attraction and identity, I’ve seen how important it is for parents to take care of their own emotional health afterward.*
Here are some valuable principles to keep in mind:
SIDEBAR MATERIAL — Find a Parent Support Group in Utah County
Find a parent support group. Meeting with other parents in similar situations has been a positive emotional turning point for many. Here are a few in Utah Valley:
Next time: Coming Out Part 3 – What do we do now?