By Haley Wagonblott, LPC
Navigating how to support your LGBTQ+ child is a tricky process in the society we live in. Maybe your teen recently came out or they have been out but you are uncertain of how to approach the topic. Give yourself some grace for whatever uncertainty you may be feeling! If you’re feeling anxious it’s normal and means you deeply care. Below are four tips to support your LGBTQ teen based on my experiences as a therapist for this population.
- Affirm, Affirm, Affirm
The most important thing you can do for your child is provide reassurance of your love and support for them. They are probably scared about the impact this will have on their relationships, so it is necessary for them to know they have your support. Validate that it must have been difficult and maybe scary for them to share this with you but you are glad they did.
- Don’t process your reaction with or in front of your teen
It is completely understandable that as a parent, you may have to talk through what has been shared with you and the reaction you are having. However, if done in front of the teen, it may put unneeded stress on them about something they can’t control. They are probably already trying to process a lot of things, so adding in a parent’s processing may make them feel overwhelmed or even like a burden. You may try to find a support group or seek out therapy yourself or find applicable resources.
- Help your teen connect with resources and educate yourself!
Supporting your teen in finding an accepting community is so so important. This will allow them some safety in their identity journey knowing they have support around them. An awesome resource here locally is the Kansas City Center for Inclusion. They have lots of resources and events on their website. They also have a blog that addresses a variety of topics which is an awesome tool for parents to educate themselves!
- Be on the lookout for any signs of bullying at school or elsewhere.
This population has a higher risk of being bullied which can have a significant impact on their wellbeing. Use open-ended questions to inquire about school, friends and general well-being. Be sure to approach them non-judgmentally to help them feel you are a safe person to confide in. Connect with school staff, mental health professionals and specific resources for the community if this is occurring.
If you take only one thing from this article, remember how important it is for your teen to have a loving, supportive parent. Having that family support will be huge for them with whatever difficulties they may face. If you want more tips for supporting your LGBTQ teen or your teen needs more resources, consider my Guided Support Group for Teens in the LGBTQIA+ Community that will focus on building coping skills, exploring identity, improving self-esteem and more! There will be an opportunity for parents to get support and guidance too. Free phone consultations available to ensure it is a good fit and give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have. Coming Winter 2023!