Parents play an important role in their children’s life from being the first teacher to taking care of the child. When their baby grows and reaches puberty, parents are expected to educate their child about new changes in their body and surrounding. LGBTQ+ youth not only have to grapple with their sexual identity during this period of turbulence but also face the stigma due to disparities between gender-minority youth and heterosexual youth.
Parents, when they are updated with this news tend to react in different mechanisms which are based on their ethics, the society they live in, and the knowledge they may have on the same topic. But being parents, they always want the best for their child. After they gasp this information, they want to show support, but that isn’t always easy as LGBTQ+ youth faces unique and extreme challenges that parents are unplanned to tackle.
In a world that is increasingly becoming more and more tolerant, there will always be people who will look down on someone because of their sexual identity. Rather than caring about homophobic people, it is better to actually attempt and understand the sexual identity of your child. Apart from that, parents must lend their support and teach children that their sexual identity is nothing to be ashamed of. Love is love after all.
The first and foremost thing for a parent to teach their child is the term Self- Acceptance, the fact that they are unique and have choices that might be different from the majority of children requires a firm acceptance attitude. Having a conversation with LGBTQ+ youth or adolescence is a continuous learning process, as parents, they tend to learn more in every conversation they have. Getting the child open up sometimes may seem like an as impossible task, parents need to build trust with small steps, showing children that they are curious about their life, asking about their day-to-day activity, makes children connected, thus making a way to more complex issues like sexuality.
Thirdly, parents can use tactics of indirectly taking up topics, where a child gets to know that their elders have acceptance of any sexual identity. While it may seem less personal, it is an opportunity to broach sensitive topics in a way that’s not so scary. Focusing on school and getting involved in their activities is always a great move when it comes to parenting. Other than this providing LGBTQ+ students with the information, they need to be safe and healthy in schools can be a great step, that parents may recommend.
Bullies, one of the biggest fears to deal with for LGBTQ+ youth and adolescence, as it is always a great barrier when it comes to personality development. Bullies can be in the school environment and even adults who don’t have an open mindset. Homophobic people, unfortunately, exist in all corners of our small world. Parents should observe signs like declining grades, unexplained absence, sudden shifts in a friend, or engagement in risk behaviour (e.g. drug use) that is out of character for the child and then should reach out to teachers or school administrators.
When it comes to dating, it is daunting for most parents especially parents of LGBTQ+ youth but it’s an important part of adolescent development for all children, be involved and stay connected. By encouraging your kid to date in a way that’s healthy and age-appropriate, you send a powerful message- LGBTQ+ relationships are normal, and there’s nothing to hide or to be ashamed of.
There will be times when as parents you feel exhausted, if you are struggling, reach out for help to a psychologist, paediatrician, a counsellor at school, or a close family member because it is very mandatory to maintain positivity and patient skill so that you teach your child life is full of hope. Adolescents grappling with puberty and sexual identity can have a lot to deal with on their plate. They don’t require a perfect parent. They just need a parent who accepts them for who they are and is there for them.
There’s no right or wrong way to express your love to your child, just be present even if you’re not sure what to say, try something simple as I’m here for you. I love you, and I will support you no matter what. This can mean the world to your child.