By Ashley Taylor
Part 2 of 3
This is the second article in a series that tackles one of the toughest issues that parents of LGBTQ+ children often face: how to establish open communication. Part two highlights the importance of processing what you’re thinking and feeling during this journey so that you can be emotionally available for your child.
Reflect on your beliefs and emotions
It’s easy to solely focus on your child exploring their gender or sexual orientation instead of getting curious with yourself about these topics. As your child practices reflecting on who they are, I encourage parents to do the same. Ask yourself some questions like, “How do I feel about gender and/or sexual orientation?”, “What does my gender and sexual orientation mean to me?”, and “How is my child’s gender or sexual orientation impacting my relationships, friendships and social interactions?”
It’s important to note that you are responsible for your own feelings and beliefs and it’s up to you how best to manage and process them. Opportunities may arise for you to share how you feel with your child, but consider processing your emotions first and then decide if sharing them will nurture positive connection or foster negative disconnection. If you’re not sure whether to share, consider asking a therapist or a parent support group.
If your child shared that they are trans or lesbian, for example, what thoughts and emotions would come up? Would you feel happy, excited, and joyful? Or would you feel worried, upset, and betrayed? It is important to note that any and all emotions that you experience are valid. Figuring out how to best manage them allows more space for you to show up as the parent you want to be.
Listen and meditate on the deeper meaning of your emotions. Maybe you feel fearful about potential gender-based harassment and/or discrimination that your child could face in the future. You might also feel excited and reassured that your child feels safe enough to confide in you and share their most personal feelings.
Your job as a parent is to gather information that will help you with: 1) Strategies that can help you navigate this experience, 2) Best family safety practices, 3) Networking opportunities with other families who have gone through similar experiences, and 4) Therapy. Lastly, be mindful to listen to your child and support however they would like to celebrate the news of who they are. Your idea of what’s best may differ from how much your child wants to share.
Stay tuned for part 3 of this special series, which addresses staying consistent for your child and LGBTQ+ media resources.
Guest writer Ashley Taylor is a queer Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in anxiety, relationship challenges, and identity. They completed their Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Counseling and School Counseling from the University of New Mexico in 2016 and currently live in Round Rock, TX where they run their own counseling practice, Ashley Taylor Counseling. To learn more visit their website: https://www.ashleytaylorcounseling.com/