Supporting Your LGBTQIA Child: Overcoming Challenges and Finding Acceptance as a Parent
Most parents strive to give their children a safe, supportive, and loving home environment, no matter how diverse and varied their needs may be. Nonetheless, when it comes to parenting an LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and/or other) child, some parents may find themselves unprepared or even overwhelmed by the additional stress and complexity that comes with raising an LGBTQIA child.
Understanding and Accepting Your LGBTQIA Child
One of the major difficulties a parent may face when their child comes out as LGBTQIA is lack of education and understanding of what it means. Even in today’s more accepting society, many parents have only heard the occasional derogatory terms used when referring to LGBTQIA individuals. This lack of familiarity can cause shock and even distress, as the parent attempts to wrap their minds around the new reality that their child is a part of this traditionally misunderstood and often underrepresented population. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding can often lead to doubt, fear, and even rejection of their child’s orientation.
The Importance of Showing Support and Love to Your LGBTQIA Child
It is important to be supportive and loving to your child who is LGBTQIA for a variety of reasons. Firstly, showing them your support and love helps them to feel accepted and welcomed. People who are LGBTQIA can struggle with acceptance from various sources, and it is essential to make sure your child still feels like part of your family. Secondly, showing love and support helps your child to realize that there is nothing wrong with them and it sends the message that you accept them and their identity. Lastly, research suggests that LGBTQIA individuals who have the support of their families have higher levels of self-esteem, happiness, and better overall mental health. Therefore, it is important to be supportive and loving to give them the best chance to thrive.
The Role of Education in Supporting Your LGBTQIA Child
Education is an important tool for parents of LGBTQIA children to gain knowledge, understanding and the motivation to support their child’s identity. Through education, they can learn to be more accepting and gain important resources to help their child thrive. Enriching Kidz has an excellent program to help parents come to terms with the situation. The Enriching Kidz online class called DISCOVERY PRIDE PARENTS can provide information on the needs and experiences of this population, as well as ways to help children navigate their journey with acceptance, understanding and support. There are also numerous online resources, support groups and opportunities to make connections with other families of LGBTQIA children. Education can not only help foster acceptance and understanding, but create a much needed support system.
Risks and Challenges Faced by LGBTQIA Children
LGBTQIA children are more likely to commit suicide due to the psychological stress, stigma, and discrimination they face in society. They may feel isolated or judged by their family, peers, or even religious or cultural groups. Additionally, they may have limited access to support or activist groups, or even to health services that are affirming of their identities. Oftentimes, family and other support systems become unsupportive or even hostile, making it difficult for LGBTQIA children to find community or acceptance when they're struggling. Lastly, bullying and homophobia can be pervasive in some schools and communities, further adding to the struggles of LGBTQIA youth.
Another difficulty that a parent may experience is the fear of their child facing harassment and discrimination in the outside world. Regardless of the amount of support they provide at home, the everyday social stigma against LGBTQIA individuals is ever-present, and can often lead to anxiety and self-doubt for their child. Even more, due to anti-discrimination laws varying from state to state, their child may even be at risk of undue disciplinary action or be the target of violence. Parents in this situation may be overwhelmed with the insecurity and lack of safety that such risks entail.
The Importance of Community and Support for Parents of LGBTQIA Children
It’s important to know that parents of LGBTQIA children are not alone. There are many communities and organizations that support and assist parents of LGBTQIA children. Parent groups, support groups, and organizations like Enriching Kidz - Discovery Pride Parents provide education, support, and resources for parents. They also provide a sense of community for parents of LGBTQIA children.
Overcoming Internal Conflicts and Ideological Differences as a Parent of an LGBTQIA Child.
Finally, parents may struggle with their own religious or ideological beliefs that challenge their ability to accept and celebrate their child’s orientation. A parent’s faith or values may directly clash with the idea of their child identifying as LGBTQIA, leading to confusion, guilt, and a sense of internal conflict. Many parents in this situation struggle to reconcile the influence their beliefs have on their everyday lives and their desire to ensure that their child is supported and accepted.
Therefore, while it can be a great challenge for any parent to come to terms with their child’s LGBTQIA identity, these difficulties can be overcome by seeking out education and understanding of the situation, offering emotional and psychological support, and finding a balance in maintaining one’s own personal beliefs. With solid core parenting skills, open communication, and plenty of love