Coming Out

Tips for when your child comes out

If your son or daughter comes to you and identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ), you may quickly start searching for the perfect words to say or how to best react. To aid in this conversation, we’ve compiled a few tips to consider when your child comes out:

Start with “I love you.”

Perhaps you have always thought your child may identify as LGBTQ, or maybe the news is a tad more shocking to you, either way, when your child decides to tell you, take a breath and start with a simple “I love you.” Your child likely agonized over telling you for quite some time, and your immediate reaction may have an effect on your relationship long term.

Take a minute.

It may take you a few days, weeks or even months to get used to the new normal of your child’s life. If your child tells you and you need to take a few moments to calm down and collect your thoughts, that’s okay. It is always better to tell your child you need a few minutes rather than get immediately angry or upset.

Don’t over question.

Your child is likely still trying to feel comfortable in his or her own skin and may not have an answer for every question you want to ask. Work through the conversation together, and remember one of the most important virtues: patience.

Keep your child’s overall health in mind.

Many studies show that LGBTQ youth are at a greater risk for depression, suicide, substance abuse and other risky behaviors. Your child may already be dealing with some of these issues, and coming out may help relieve some of that internal pain. Your child’s overall health and wellness should always be at the forefront of your mind.

Be open-minded and don’t diminish your own feelings.

You or your family may have certain religious or personal beliefs that are brought into question after your child comes out. You may be upset, relieved, scared, happy, sad or even angry. Whatever you are feeling, that is okay. Just remember that being supportive of your son or daughter is the most important thing you can do.

Keep in mind that coming out isn’t necessarily black and white. For example, your child may want to tell you and close friends first, but isn’t ready to tell everyone at school. Or, perhaps they are ready to let the world know who they are. Either way, know that you as a parent can also make decisions on who to tell. Speak with your child openly, and do what feels right for all those involved.

Find support.

If you’re not sure what you can do to support your child, or what resources are available, consider finding a local PFLAG chapter, or speak with your doctor about other steps you can take.