When you first became a parent or guardian and thought about your hopes and dreams for your child, you most likely wanted them to be healthy and happy more than anything else. You may also have hoped that your child would be kind and honest, follow family beliefs, find love, and be true to themselves. You might not have thought much about whether your child would be part of the Rainbow community, or the adjustment that might be in store for you, your family, or your broader community.
Although it may take a little while to get used to the idea of being a parent of a child or youth who is 2SLGBTQIANB+, be assured that with your support your child can still realize all the hopes and dreams that you, and they, want for their life. With a positive and accepting response, you – perhaps more than anyone else – can directly affect their sense of wellbeing, their hope for their future, their desire to be a part of their community, and their ability to lead successful and productive lives.
If you responded to your child coming out as 2SLGBTQIANB+ with a mixture of thoughts and emotions, you’re not alone. Some parents feel pride or relief that their child is discovering their true self. Many others are uncertain and feel like they’re treading into unchartered territory. Some parents are devastated by the news and need time and support to show acceptance. Parents are hardwired to protect their children, and when they struggle to support their Rainbow child, the reason often comes down to fear:
Fear of the unknown is common, and can be the result of preconceived ideas or just a lack of interactions with 2SLGBTQIANB+ people. The more you open your heart to learning, understanding, and really listening to your child, the less afraid you will be. The less afraid you are, the more love and support you will be able to provide to your child. And the more ways you can offer support, the stronger and happier your child will become.
The biggest reason many people come out as 2SLGBTQIANB+ when they are adults, as opposed to when they are younger, is because they fear rejection from their family, community, or faith group. Supporting your child or youth to be true to who they are will make a lifelong positive impact on their health and happiness in the following ways:
Sadly, when parents choose not to support their 2SLGBTQIANB+ children, their fears sometimes become a reality:
Thankfully, you don’t need to understand everything about being 2SLGBTQIANB+ right away in order to be supportive. Some parents have many reservations and questions about their child being part of the Rainbow community. Sometimes it may take years to work through them all. You may not be ready to practice all of the items on the following list, but studies show that even if you start with one or two, you can help improve your child’s mental and physical health outcomes:
Every parent wants their child to thrive and be the best they can be. Your love, acceptance and support will make a world of difference for your Rainbow child’s ability to be just that!