Parent Chat | Raising Queer Kiddos in a Straight World
You may have had an image of who your child would be, even before they were born. Coming to accept your child as they show you who they truly are is a process. Last week on Parent Chat, Jen O’Ryan PhD helped parents understand that how we process change can have a big impact on our kids. When LGBTQ+ kids come out, their parents & wider family can go through stages of shock, denial, uncertainty, asking ‘what if’s”, exploration of new viewpoints, processing and integration. Each parent’s process is unique and non-linear. Lack of acceptance–from parents, relatives and the wider community–can cause LGBTQ+ youth to internalize negative messages, which can lead to mental health challenges. Dr. O’Ryan encourages parents to pay attention to their own process, to keep moving forward, and to be part of the change in the world that our LGBTQ+ kids need to thrive.
Takeaways for Parents
* Ask Your Kid What They Need: How Can I Support You? Sometimes well-meaning parents can rush in to fix things when what their child really wants is to have someone listen, help them think about their options, and remind them what they’re capable of.
* Don’t Make Every Conversation About Identity. Parents can be too enthusiastic, which can be overwhelming. Let your child own their identity and conversations about their identity.
* Understand Your Own Process of Adapting to Change. Notice your beliefs and behaviors. Be curious about your fears and concerns. Sometimes early messages we get about gender and sexual orientation can shape our responses to our kiddos: sifting through them and making conscious choices can help you hold on to what’s still important and let go of what’s not.
- PFLAG: Provides peer support, education and advocacy to LGBTQ+ people, their parents and families and allies.
- GSLEN: GLSEN works to ensure that LGBTQ students are able to learn and grow in a school environment free from bullying and harassment.
- The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.
- The Pride Guide by Jo Langford is a guide to Sexual and Social Health for LGBTQ Youth, with a section specifically for parents