One fear that many of the LGBT youth have is coming out to their parents. Even when they’re older, teens still want their parents to accept and love them. Worrying over how their parents react to their gender identity and preferences puts a toll on their mental well-being.
As parents, we must know how to show our children that we support them no matter what. Here are tips on how you can help ease their mind and show them the love they deserve.
Tell Them That You Love Them
The first thing you should do is to reassure them of the love you have. We often hear that parents should love their kids unconditionally, and that includes their sexual orientation. Let them know that you’re there for them no matter who they are attracted to or who they love.
Something as seemingly simple as being present can mean a lot to today’s youth. Parents can be an anchor to their kids, and those with supportive parents are more likely to grow into happier adults.
When it comes to the LGBT, people can have a lot of misconceptions. To show support for your children, it’s best to educate yourself on gender and sexual orientation. It’s a lot easier now, given the endless resources we have available through different mediums. You can go to a bookstore to check for books, search online, and watch informative videos.
The basics you should learn about are the different aspects of gender and the terms people use:
Sex is the biological attributes a person has at birth. This concept is separate and different from one’s gender.
Gender identity is an individual’s sense of self, whether they identify as female, male, neither, or both. A person may be born male (sex) but identify as female (gender identity).
Gender expression is how they wish to convey themselves. A female may identify as such but have mannerisms, clothing choices, and interests that may be traditionally masculine. Lastly, sexual orientation refers to who they find themselves attracted to if any.
Also, watch out for common misconstructions when it comes to these topics. For one, their sense of self is not a “phase.” Gender is fluid. Their gender identity and preferences may change over time as they get to understand themselves better. However, tagging, such as a “phase,” seems dismissive and undermines the importance of gender identity and sexuality.
By educating yourself on gender and the LGBT, you show support for your kids. When adolescents see that their parents are committed to learning more about who they are, they feel more reassured. It saves them a lot of mental stress when they feel like they’re not alone on the journey to understanding themselves.
The most challenging thing for a parent is getting your kids to open up. Such is especially true in their teen and adolescent years. Even if you look back to when you were young, it was likely difficult to tell your parents about certain things in your life.
The best way to encourage dialogues between you and your teen is to build trust. Show them that your home equals a safe space, and they can come to you for personal and sensitive matters. Don’t be discouraged if they seem closed off at first.
Once you establish the kind of relationship you want between you and your kids, they’ll come to see it as well. Start small by asking about their day and their friends. Make sure you appear encouraging and supportive.
Over time, you can begin to talk about other topics. They may still hesitate to start an exchange on their gender, so you may have to initiate at times.
You can bring up characters from movies or shows you watch together or some of their other friends. “This character has dated both guys and girls. That kind of stuff is okay with me. What do you think?” It may seem awkward, but you may have to take that starting step for the both of you as an adult.
Self-discovery is a journey for everyone, but it can be especially challenging for the LGBT youth. As parents, we can play a large role in helping our children out with such.
Being supportive, open, and educated about gender and sexual orientation can take a huge mental weight off your teen’s shoulders. There’s so much we can do for them to help them lessen the stress and toll on their mental well-being.
First, always assure them that you accept and love them no matter their gender identity, expression, or orientation.
Next, find resources and educate yourself on the different aspects of gender and the LGBT. Stay updated on news and government policies that could push for equality and compassion or pose a threat.
Lastly, encourage open dialogues between you and your adolescents. Stay present in their lives and look out for them. We all want the best and the most for our kids. Accepting them is one of the most vital things we should do as parents.