Telling Others

5 Ways You Can Help Your Child Tell or Not Tell Others

Prioritize your child’s needs and preferences regarding who and when to tell.

This story is your child’s story; your child gets to decide who to tell. They may be eager to be open, or they may be uncomfortable being discussed among family and friends. Let them take the lead, or ask their permission.

The “big reveal” may not be necessary.

Always share in the way most helpful to your child. People may figure it out on their own and a gradual realization may be best for them. Months or years can go by without a clear statement about your child’s LGBTQ identity while in the meantime, normal relationships are preserved. Many people are unconscious of the social stigma they express toward LGBTQ youth. When this becomes personal, through someone they care about, they can often find their own path to acceptance over time.

They may ask you to tell someone. Help if you can.

If your child asks you to tell someone, be as helpful as you can. They may want someone to know (another parent, for example) but be nervous to tell that person. You can offer guidance to your child regarding the range of responses you anticipate, if they ask. Or, you can accompany your child as they initiate the conversation.

They may ask you not to tell others. Respect their wishes.

The child is the one who will feel scrutiny, field questions, or sense the family gossip. If they need privacy, let them set the pace. Coming out is their process, so the decision to tell others is theirs, not yours. This can be difficult if it means keeping a “secret” from close friends or other family members. However, the loving choice is to respect your child’s needs.

Trust your instincts — and your child’s.

If you sense an acquaintance or family member may be hostile or hurtful, be mindful of this. Relatives, friends and neighbors, school chums and others all have a relationship with your child already. Again, let your child’s preference lead, and help them if they ask.

“What’s been most difficult is the reaction of my family members. No one on my side of the family knows because our son has chosen not to tell them. He told my husband’s family, but they’re not supportive.”


Mother of a gay son

“One doesn’t have to operate with great malice to do great harm. The absence of empathy and understanding are sufficient.”

Charles M. Blow