Coming out is a life-changing moment and there are lots of ways you can make it easier…
The teen has most likely been anguishing over this watershed moment for a long time and you can play a massive part in making it as accepting, loving and reassuring as possible. Here are some tips on how you can make this experience a positive, affirming moment for you both:
Avoid knee-jerk reactions and focus on staying calm and collected. Sometimes, a person can come out in the heat of the moment, like in the midst of an argument. Once they’ve calmed down, you can refocus, together.
Hug It Out
A hug can go a long way to making your child feel accepted, loved and reassured. Don’t be disheartened if they resist a hug – you can show your acceptance and love with your words, instead.
A Safe Space
Let them know that you are a safe space for them. Listen to them carefully, allow them to speak their thoughts and supply them with lots of reassurance. Try not to interrupt their flow and ask them what you can do to make things easier for them.
Avoid phrases like, “You’ll grow out of it!”. The child or teen is telling you this is who they are. They have put their trust in you to respect their decision. It’s an honour to have someone come out to you and you should treat it as such.
Let Them Lead
This is their moment, their life. Try not to rush them and give them space and time to talk things over on their own terms. Give them time.
Reinforce & Reassure
It takes a lot of courage for someone to come out so be sure to show your respect for their bravery. Thanking the teen for coming out to you is a great way to show that you feel honoured to have them share this with you. Your teen has probably been terrified of rejection so to hear these words and to know that they are loved and accepted will come as a massive relief.
Arming yourself with facts and knowledge about the LGBTQ+ community can help you to work through any concerns or questions that they might have.
Address Your Fears
It’s also normal to have some fears. A common fear is that their path in life may be made more difficult by homophobic attitudes. Hopefully, they will look back on this moment with pride and love. It can be an extremely positive memory for both of you – that pivotal moment when they bravely stood up and shared their truth.