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27 Important Reminders For Parents Of LGBT People

It's totally okay to feel lost.

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So we asked the members of the BuzzFeed Community to share their best tips for raising LGBT kids. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Remember that your child's coming-out experience is 100% about them.

memegenerator.net

"When I came out, the number one response I immediately got from EVERYONE in my life, but most importantly my Mom, was a tearful: 'I’m very hurt that you felt like you couldn’t tell me for ALL these years!'

Your child’s coming-out experience is about them and their journey to discovering their sexuality. This type of comment makes it about you as a parent. While we understand coming to terms with having a LGBT child is hard, realize that your child coming out to you is much harder. Don’t make them feel guilty!"

marinam4f0bb2f03

2. But it’s okay to need time to process your child’s announcement.

Universal Pictures / Via tenor.co

"It’s okay to grieve over losing the idea of what you had envisioned for your child (e.g. traditional cisgender marriage and kids). But do take care to never make your child feel guilty for being their true self. Be loving and keep the lines of communication open."

elisabethp449565f17

3. And it could be beneficial to find a therapist or a support group to help you sort through your feelings.

Chris Ritter / buzzfeed.com

"Don’t hesitate to find support for YOUR feelings. But use caution as it can be difficult to find support groups and churches that aren’t biased. Find a therapist that you feel comfortable talking to."

stephaniei

Here's more info on how to get started with your search.

4. Even if you know your child is LGBT, wait for them to come out on their own terms.

FOX / Via justpmsing.com

"Create an environment where they feel comfortable coming out, but don’t force them to. Although you may know and accept that they are LGBT, they may not have come to terms with it themselves. So just be patient and open for whenever they do feel ready to come out."

JohariCanty

5. Maybe don't tell them “I already knew."

Sony Pictures / Via wifflegif.com

"It took me a very long time to accept I was queer. I struggled a lot while accepting who I was. Hearing that someone already knew was always incredibly hurtful, and made it seem like I should have accepted it sooner."

meganelizabetha

6. And definitely don't tell them it could just be a phase.

buzzfeed.com

"If your kid comes out to you, don't, for the love of God, chuckle or laugh it off. My mother only meant the best and I know she didn't mean to hurt me, but when I came to her in middle school to tell her I was bisexual, her dismissing it made me question myself, and back into the closet I went for the next nine years.

Even if you think 'it's a phase,' don't dismiss your kid's feelings. It'll lessen the chance that they feel comfortable coming to you about things in the future."

—Molly Jane Sisson, Facebook

7. Know that your first reaction to them coming out could have a lasting impact, so please be sensitive.

NBC

"My parents definitely could’ve handled my coming out to them better. My mom’s first question was about HIV, and she followed up with 'are you sure/is it a phase?' I was crushed. My advice to parents would be to simply be there for your child. Coming out to your parents is one of the scariest moments in the long journey of coming out. Tell them you love them and give yourself time to process the news that you have a child who is LGBT. You only have one chance at first impressions and how you react to your child coming out will will have a lasting impact on your relationship moving forward."

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8. Challenge homophobia and transphobia whenever and wherever you hear it.

Tony Awards / Via giphy.com

"If your child knows that you challenge attitudes that would hurt LGBT people they'll be more likely to trust you. After all, if you turn a deaf ear and let it go unchallenged, or even laugh homophobia and transphobia off, how is your child going to know that they have your support?"

—Kim Graham, Facebook

10. And make sure they know home will always be a safe place for them.

Disney / Via mrwgifs.com

"Family is an anchor for queer children. We go outdoors and we see that we are different somehow, that we don’t fit in certain environments and we never will. But when we're home we feel like ourselves, because home and family are places where a child will always feel they belong. So if your child comes out as queer, don’t treat him as if something has changed, don’t destroy the only safe place he has and don’t be the kind of person he avoids when he’s outside the house because that person makes him feel different and inadequate."

leoijan

11. Ask your child what pronouns they'd like you to use and be respectful of them — also be patient and understand they're still figuring it out.

instagram.com / Via Instagram: @emilys_dad3

"Don’t lose your patience and show anger if your child corrects you on their name/pronouns. My mother gets it wrong all the time and I patiently correct her, but she often gets angry with me. Also, never use the wrong pronouns just because you don’t want to use the correct ones. As a trans person myself, I can say that using the wrong pronouns could completely screw someone’s day up. If you make a mistake, it’s okay! Just never do it on purpose."

perzuli

"I wish that my parents had been more open to nonbinary genders and using neutral pronouns."

riversmith

12. If you have any questions about your child’s sexuality after they come out, don’t be afraid to ask.

Paramount Pictures / Via popkey.co

"It’s awkward, there’s no denying it. But asking questions will only bring parents and their children closer because it shows that they’re open to learning and accepting. My dad has been accepting since I came out and our relationship has only gotten stronger because he wasn’t afraid to ask me questions about my sexuality. I knew that even though he had some trouble with it at the beginning, he wanted to show that he was willing to learn and be there for me. Even questions as simple as 'how do you refer to the person you're dating?' can go a long way."

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13. Take interest in learning about the community and educate yourself.

CBC Television

"Something I wished my parents had done more of was research. When you come out there's such a rich queer culture to explore and learn about, and there's a variety of issues to understand as well. I wish my parents would sit down and read about LGBT issues and culture so they could better understand me and how to best support me. There have been a few times when they've said something problematic (misgendering Caitlyn Jenner, accidentally saying something homophobic towards me, etc.), but I know that comes from a lack of awareness rather than close-mindedness. I am proud of my mom for attending PFLAG regularly and trying her best to understand this community."

—William Eucker, Facebook

14. But try not to bombard them with all the questions right at the beginning.

NBC / Via fallontonight.tumblr.com

"You don’t have to talk about everything the second they come out to you. Understand that it was probably a big challenge for them to do that and let them know that you’re glad they’ve told you and that you love and accept them. If the moment feels right, you can ask more and talk more about it, but sometimes it can be better to save it for later."

evalerie

15. And understand that while doing your research is great, every LGBT person is different and you can't fit your child into a specific mold.

youtube.com / Via romvn.tumblr.com

"Not every LGBT person has the same views, issues, and experiences. It’s fine to read up on LGBT topics but make sure you always listen to the feelings and experiences your child is sharing. Don’t try and make their life fit into the mold of another LGBT person."

rainbowskylites

16. Try not to get defensive when your child brings up something that offended them. Just listen.

Logo TV / Via fyeahrupaul.tumblr.com

"Recognize that when your child talks about their experience, your feelings should not come into play. If you feel yourself getting defensive when they vent about how someone mistreated them or made an oh-so-common, 'well-intended' but offensive remark/action, consider that it is because you identify with the oppressive perspective and could envision yourself acting similarly. Rather than feeling the need to defend yourself or such thought processes, try to let go of the embarrassment or defensiveness you feel in order to change the behavior and perspective that made you identify with the oppressive rhetoric in the first place."

—Miranda Stein, Facebook

17. And don't shame them away from being themselves in order to protect them.

YouTube Music / Via youtube.com

"The most important thing is to make it apparent that your child’s identity is legitimate and that anyone who criticizes it is WRONG. I know that this seems obvious but giving your child suggestions such as 'speak in a lower voice,' or to not make certain 'flamboyant' gestures on the pretense that it will alleviate bullying, ultimately sends the message that your child’s identity is flawed and that in order to be a part of our society they need to suppress who they are."

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18. Take pride in your child.

instagram.com / Via Instagram: @heymattcameron

"My family never says anything bad. But they never talk about it or say anything good either. I see these moms with shirts that say 'I love my gay daughter' and I wish for that, for some indication that they are proud of me. Just show some pride. Don't let your kid feel like you're secretly ashamed of them."

—Cat Degges, Facebook

"I had a really wonderful coming out experience with my mom. She’s been the best ally. My girlfriend at the time and I were moved to tears when we went over to her house and saw that there was a framed picture of us beside the ones of my older sisters with their husbands and children. We were part of the family. That’s all we could have ever asked for."

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19. Don't go behind your child's back and invade their privacy.

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"My parents suspected I was gay and would go through all of my things, especially my internet and chat history. That is the worst thing you can do."

princemichaelj

20. Be careful about unconsciously reinforcing heteronormative stereotypes in everyday situations.

HBO / Via i.imgur.com

"In general, whether your kid is LGBT or not, try not to send them too many heteronormative messages. Do not assume that your son is going to like girls or date a girl, and don't assume your daughter is going to do the same for boys."

—Pepper Joël, Facebook

21. Don’t disregard their feelings just because you think they’re “too young to understand.”

youtube.com / Via giphy.com

"Kids are a lot smarter than most adults give them credit for. Your child may not know the actual terms for things (transgender, gay, lesbian, bi, etc.) but they do know how they feel. Instead of trying to convince them to 'wait,' or telling them they’re 'too young,' let them figure it out for themselves. But still offer your support along the way. Trying to discourage them simply due to their age can confuse them and even cause depression and/or anxiety."

blackzephyr

22. Always be open to listening and helping them find solutions for everyday problems that they have to face.

instagram.com / Via Instagram: @serotoninscientist

"LGBT people deal with a lot of stressful situations every single day, normal things can be 20x more stressful. For a trans person, or at least for me, even going to the bathroom or going to school is a stressful ordeal. Try to help your child find alternatives that make them feel more comfortable. Overall, just support them to the best of your abilities. That’s all any of us really want."

kyle3cradle

23. Let your children be as public or private about their sexual orientation as they want to be.

NBC / Via tenor.co

"When I came out as bi to my mom, she said she wasn’t sure if I was mature enough to know for sure and suggested that my feelings for other girls were rooted in admiration or friendship rather than romantic attraction, and she suggested that I not tell others about it because 'labels can stick with you for a long time' (even though the truth is that sexuality is fluid and a person doesn’t have to identify with one label for their entire life). My advice to parents is to not imply that you know your child’s feelings better than they do and to allow them to be as open or as private about their sexual orientation as they want to be."

laurencrabtre

24. Be sensitive to and avoid using all terms or phrases that could be taken as homophobic.

quickmeme.com

"Be careful of what you say around your children. Something as nonchalant as 'all gay men seem to be really rude' or condoning the use of gay or faggot as an insult, or something to that effect, can be really harmful. My parents, mom especially, being low-key homophobic caused me to have terrible anxiety about being gay and made me delay coming out to them until I was in college."

ceciliavalentine2

25. See their sexual identity as a part of them, not who they are as a whole.

ABC / Via becomingustv.tumblr.com

"Make them feel as normal as possible, because that’s exactly what they are. Don’t drastically change the way you treat them or tip-toe around issues. Let them rant, let them be confused and let them just pour out."

gaslightegh

26. Be sensitive when trying to relate to them.

Paramount Pictures / Via missblondekriss.tumblr.com

"For the love of GOD don’t bring up all the LGBT celebrities who you 'never would’ve guessed' were queer, or their successes, or their failures. We are not celebrities, we are your children, our own individual selves. Stop using templates or models of comparison, just listen to us."

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27. And, most importantly, love the crap out of them.

NBC

"I know it sounds silly, or maybe even too simple, but love them. Love them when they think they’re disappointing you. Love them when they think they’re disappointing themselves. Love when they’re scared and when you’re scared. Whatever you do, love the crap out of them."

lumsantiago

Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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