I count myself lucky to be able to spend those few hours a month with the youth that attend PRYSM, and every month I come away in awe having learned something new, not only about them but about myself. Those in the pride community are some of the most badass people that I know, not because they identify as LGBTQ2+, but because they are daring to live their lives authentically. This past month I had the privilege of bearing witness to the coming out stories, in various stages, of some of our youth. This is what I learned….Do not rush the process.
Parents have a huge role to play in the coming out stories of their children, and allowing the process to unfold in their child’s own time is important. Just because a child has chosen to come out to you, does not mean they are ready to come out to the world, or even other family members. Respect their speed. They are getting messages from society every day that tell them that they are not accepted. Surround them in love and be a soft place for them to fall when the world gets tough.
So what can a parent do to show support while not outing their kid? Use inclusive language, and promote the normalization of LGBTQ2+ identities and relationships. This is necessary, not only when you think your child may identify, but with all kids, as a way to promote acceptance. Research shows that when children have connections to those who identify, they are more likely to be accepting as they grow into adulthood. Children who are questioning will be acutely aware of jokes made at the expense of those who are similar to them. Jokes are not just jokes, and pressuring children to come out before they are ready can cause distrust.
Even the most accepting parent, will experience feelings of grief when their kid comes out. These feelings may include, in no particular order, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These feelings are 100% normal. We hear time and time again at our Parenting with Pride group that parents are afraid for their children, afraid they will get bullied, afraid of the inequality that they may face in their lives. These feelings of fear and grief are real, and needing someone to talk to is not shameful.
Parenting with Pride occurs monthly on the third Saturday. Check out our events page, for all the details. We look forward to seeing you!