Our children need to know that we love them unconditionally. They also need to know that we honor the fact that their lives belong to them, and cannot be lived for us. It is nice for them to know that their happiness is more important to us than our own ego needs in relation to them.
This seems well and good until the day the teen or young adult announces that he or she is gay or lesbian. Parents responses range from positive acceptance and support, to outright rejection, ostracizing, and even disgust.
By the time the young person is sharing this information, you can be sure that he or she has agonized over it for a long time. It has been analyzed to death in their own minds, and is being shared because the young person realizes it is not “just a phase,” but a fact of life. It is not something he or she will “grow out of,” or that can be changed. It would be as impossible for them to change their sexual orientation as it would be for you to change yours!
Many people hide such information from their parents for years, if not for life. The fact that your child is telling you, means that he or she values the relationship you share, and does not want to be deceiving you.
How should you respond? First, acknowledge how difficult it has been for your child to disclose this to you. Then pledge your love and willingness to do whatever you must to come to terms with this. Do not guilt or shame your child, express anxiety about what the relatives will think, or bemoan the fact that you really wanted grandchildren.
By all means get counseling or psychological support, because you may be in shock, and need help in adjusting to, and understanding, this newly revealed aspect of your child.
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