If your child has identified themself as LGBTQ, you may find yourself wondering what you can do for
You might not know how to respond in a variety of situations. Perhaps you worry about overstepping
boundaries. Yet, at the same time, you don’t want to ignore their needs.
The most important thing to remember is that LGBTQ children need the same thing from their
parents that any children do. This includes consistent love, respect, and support—even if you aren’t
comfortable with their identity.
Ideally, parents are a stable, loving presence in their children’s life. This is true whether the child is
still young, an adolescent, or already out of the house.
Love is the hallmark of all-important relationships. Unconditional love—the kind that says you’ll be
there for someone no matter what—is vital. This kind of love provides emotional security. It offers
protection and reassurance during life’s hardships and struggles. All kids need this from their
Support can mean different things to different families. For example, if you’re not comfortable
publicly advocating for gay rights, you can still support your own child in their individual life. Lend
them a listening ear, let them know you’re there for them, and help them with life’s practical needs.
You may be surprised, shocked, or upset to learn that your child is LGBTQ. These feelings are often
normal. But how you react toward your child will go a long way in setting the future tone for your
Responding in a calm, mature manner to any surprises your children confront you with
communicates a great deal to them. It helps them know that they can trust you. And it alleviates any
fears and anxieties they may have about talking to you concerning their struggles.
Being discrete is another hallmark of maturity. It’s very important to check in with your child before
sharing news of their identity with others. Your child may prefer to handle such communications on
their own. They might not be ready for you to tell your circle of friends or extended family. Hurtful
comments and gossip are frequent in such situations, and your child may not be ready to deal with
A discreet approach avoids hurting your relationship with your child. Remember that their feelings
are more important than those of curious neighbors or grumpy relatives.
As any parent will tell you, having patience is a big part of raising a child. Even when they’re grown,
patience is still important. Try to not rush to judgments or blow them off as being “in a phase.”
It’s likely that your child will experience and display a wide range of emotions surrounding their
identity. Sometimes, this can come out as misdirected anger toward you or as poor decisions. While
it’s important to set appropriate boundaries and ensure their safety, remember to not take their
behavior too personally.
The Bottom Line…
Because LGBTQ children, no matter their age, can sometime experience emotional turmoil, it’s
paramount that parents are a solid presence in their lives. Of course, it’s normal to experience a
wide range of emotions and perhaps confusion during this time. But being able to manage those
feelings in a way that doesn’t hurt your relationship with your child is important for both of you.
Even through tough times, it’s possible to come out on the other side with a stronger connection. All
family members experience their own unique emotions and need to process these feelings
differently. Therapy can offer a healthy, safe place to do that. An experienced counselor can help
you sort through relationship issues and provide guidance for the future.
If you, your child, or your family is struggling with issues surrounding a family member’s LGBTQ
identity, I encourage you to reach out to one of our therapists.