LGBT, including Queer, Gender-queer, Asexual, and Hermaphrodites.
Should you come out to your parents?
Now more than ever, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered are coming out to their parents-and they’re doing it when they’re quite young. Some research shows kids came out to their parents, on average at age 17, with some coming out as young as 14.
This is a good thing—a sign of progress—and it should be applauded. Indeed, it makes sense to want to come out to parents. Research findings suggest that for openly gay kids, having a good relationship with parents is good for their mental health and self-esteem, and may inoculate them from suicidal feelings, substance abuse, and risky sex. For many youth coming out to their parents gave them a sense of relief and helped solidify their identities—and some parents found that a son or daughter’s coming out actually made their families closer and stronger than ever before.
However, despite all of these benefits, sometimes it might not be a good idea for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender people to come out to their parents. Yes, you read that right—and here’s why.
Despite the evidence that Americans are getting more tolerant parents still reject their children when they come out—ejecting them from their homes and ceasing all financial support. Some even react with violence. Other parents may feel as if their children had died—and they no longer recognize the person they raised from infancy. Kids (and adults) who are considering coming out may have a hard time understanding and coping with these reactions.
So, as you can see, the decision to come out is rarely easy and must be approached with caution. Here are some guidelines to help you decide.
Consider NOT telling them if:
-They often say things that are anti-gay or homophobic.
-They have threatened to hurt you if they ever found out you are gay.
-You are financially and physically dependent on your parents and retaliation could be removal of such support.
-You would be devastated if they reacted badly.
-Your “gut” says not to.
Remember, this isn’t a race. Putting it off for now is a decision you can always change in the future. However, if, after carefully considering all of these cautions you decide to take the plunge, here are some guidelines:
Before you tell them…
-Have a worst case scenario plan.
-Gather your supports.
-Decide that you will be OK no matter what happens. (You will!)
When you tell them…
-Pick a good time and place.
-As you come out to your folks, tell them you love them and that you seek a close honest, loving relationship with them.
-Reassure them that you are happy and healthy.
-Don’t expect them to adjust right away.
-Get them educational resources.
And most importantly….
Hang in there! If my experience is any indication, there is a very good chance that things will get better with time—even with parents who initially say those hateful things. In the meantime, stay optimistic and take good care of yourself—and give yourself credit for having the courage to take the risks necessary to live your life honestly and openly.
If you or a loved one are concerned about family, relationships, sex and intimacy, or substance abuse please call us today.