Supporting Your LGBTQ Child
In the most recent podcast, Kate Reese, and her guest, Cyndi Turner, an expert in counseling and co-founder and Clinical Director of Insight Into Action Therapy, had an insightful conversation about supporting a child who is grappling with their LGBTQ identity. They covered a broad range of topics, and, as we close out a Pride month full of celebration and education, here is a summary of the important guidance they had to share.
Respect the Journey
Growing up is all about rapid, constant change, and identity is one of the many things that evolves for young people. Whether it’s hair color and clothing choice, or a more fundamental issue like sexual orientation or gender identity, young people need to come to answers about who they are with support from the adults in their lives. According to Cyndi, the important thing to do is to take a young person at their word for where they are in the moment. That may, and often does, change over time, but as young people try on their identity, they need to be taken seriously and accepted for who they think they might be.
Cope With Your Dreams on Your Own Time
Raising a child comes with so many hopes and dreams about how they will live their lives and what your family will look like as they grow up. However, as the poet Khalil Gibran says in his wonderful poem On Children:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. …
This isn’t always easy to do, and it is completely understandable to grieve the loss of the rosy vision cherished about the child. However, the child coming into their identity is not the right resource for consolation. Find support; find someone else to talk to about the sense of loss. But don’t make the child feel regret or responsibility for not being exactly as dreamed.
Listen, and Then Listen Some More
It can be confusing, frightening, and difficult to come up as LGBTQ, even in the most supportive environment. What a young person needs most is the space to safely explore who they are. Save questions, judgments, and concerns for later or not at all, and offer support by being a willing and active listener.
Reach Out for Support
Look Out for Negative Consequences
Coming out is never easy, and it can be traumatizing. Many young people suffer serious mental health challenges due to bullying, internalized hatred or family rejection. They can turn to self-destructive behavior including substance abuse. If a child is coming out, be certain to stay on the sharp lookout for danger signs.
At Reese Law, we care deeply about the well-being of the families that come to us as clients, and this includes the children. We have resources and experience helping parents find ways to support their children through challenging times. For more information, contact us for a consultation.