Today I want to tell you that it gets better for parents too!
A parent’s reaction to a child’s coming out runs the gamut. Some are 100% supportive from the beginning. At the other end of the spectrum are parents who may become violent toward their child and/or kick them out of the house. We’ve all read stories of those parents. And there is everything in between.
If you are not one of the ones who never had a problem with having an LGBTQ child, there is nothing to get better. That’s as good as it gets! For the rest of us, there is a period of adjustment that can take, weeks, months or years.
My period of adjust seemed like it was just months. I marched in my first gay pride parade a mere sic months after my son came out. I shared my story at National Coming Out Day. I welcomed my son and his boyfriend in my home and when he found “the one,” I loved him like he was my own son.
And in so many ways, it was true that it only took a few months. I didn’t have any animosity toward the LGBTQ community. I didn’t have religious beliefs to unlearn.
For many years I thought I was 100% fine with having a gay son. But I would make jokes about why he was gay. I’d say it must be because of that time he fell off the changing table onto a linoleum floor when he was three months old. There were other reasons I would laughingly quote for why he was gay.
Then about 5 years ago I attended my first Gender Spectrum Conference. I attended a session for parents titled “What Keeps You Up at Night.” As I sat there listening to these moms of young transgender children, I realized that I had pushed the fears that I somehow caused my son to be gay to the very back of my mind, hoping they would never see the light of day. The problem with that is they come out in other ways, like my jokes about why he was gay. That was the beginning of my dealing with some of the shame I felt about how I reacted when he came out and how I feared it was really all my fault. I also had to look at the fact that I never wanted him to be gay and although I was accepting and certainly fine with it now, that feeling still came up on rare occasions. And then I felt ashamed of having that feeling. That didn’t help at all!
It got better, a lot better after a few months. But I’m a work in progress and I hope I always will be. I can still grow and learn. And it’s even better now than it was that day I sat in the group of brave young moms. Today I say with assurance, it gets better for parents too!