I’ve written about empathy before. For me, empathy is essential to having a fulfilling life. How does it guide us (or not) as parents of an LGBTQ child?
According to an article on empathy in thebabbleout.com, “Empathy ensures that mothers are more caring towards their children, which leads to a higher rate of survival. It also makes men protective of their families, so they guard them against dangers.” The article goes on to talk about the science behind empathy or lack of it. It’s worth reading!
For those of us who struggled with having an LGBTQ child, empathy and love for that child led us to examine our emotions, our reactions and really look at what it means to be LGBTQ. Empathy caused us to look again at the negative messages we’ve received about what it means to be LGBTQ. For many, it led us to leave our churches and communities that did not support our child and our being supportive of them.
Empathy and love are what lead us to become fierce advocates for our child. They are key components in moving us from grief, fear, and sadness to acceptance and finally to fully affirming our child for who they were born to be.
What about those parents who reject their child, kick them out of their homes? We know that 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, while they are only 7% of the general youth population. This is staggering. Many are kicked out of their homes with no place to go. Others run away from homes that don’t accept them. What happened to the empathy in their parents? I can’t really answer that question. All cases are not the same. But it seems to me that if these parents were empathetic to their children and could see and feel the pain their child is experiencing, they would not be the parents who kick their kids out into the street. Can anything be done for these parents? I don’t know that either. Some people are not capable of empathy, pure and simple.
If you’re reading this and you’re the parent of an LGBTQ youth, I’m guessing your child is one of the lucky ones – ones who feel loved and affirmed in their own homes. You may not have gotten there overnight (or maybe you are still getting there) but you have not lost touch with the love you have for your child and that lends itself to empathy which will continue to lead on the right path.