A too common challenge for parents of LGBTQ kids is lack of acceptance from family and friends. This is especially true for the moms and dads who were raised in the evangelical church.
Many parents have a period of adjustment, of soul searching when their child comes out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Most of them come to a place of total acceptance of the child they’ve always loved. Their love leads the way.
When the parents, siblings and friends of the parents of an LGBTQ kid are not accepting, it adds a lot of anxiety and sadness for them. Their parents and siblings have often been their go-to support system. If they’ve been a part of an evangelical church that teaches homosexuality and being transgender is against the word of God, they may also lose their church community-another support system.
They hear things like this:
“I love him/her but…”
“If you loved your child, you would do everything you could to stop this.”
“You’re enabling him/her. Tell them they must change or they can’t live with you anymore.”
“This is just a phase. It’s the popular thing to be. They’ll get over it. Just stay firm in your opposition.”
For a parent who loves their child and may even be confused, these are less than helpful. Most of us come to the realization that our child was simply born that way. We can see they’ve always been LGBTQ. And we want people to love and support us and our child.
So, what do we do when those around us aren’t accepting?
We find a support system that helps us and supports us. For some it’s PFLAG. For some it’s online support groups of other parents. Some find affirming churches to join and find support there. Some find an affirming therapist or coach to help them with adjusting to having an LGBTQ child and the backlash they experience from their family and friends.
We learn to be strong. We learn to be assertive. We get in touch with the fierceness inside us that has us protect our child at all costs. We tell those people that they are not being helpful. We tell them they can no longer say those things in our presence or that of our children. Some of us have to limit the amount of time we spend with family. Some eliminate it altogether. We remember our child’s happiness and security has to come first.
We create new families for ourselves and our children if our families don’t come around. We who are parents to an LGBTQ child become the support system for one another. We may become the mom or sister another of us needs.
No, it’s not the same. There is a huge loss when our families are not accepting and supportive. We grieve that loss and put our time and attention on helping to change the minds and hearts of those who are willing to listen and willing to change.