In a prior post, I offered six things to do when your child reveals to you she is “gay.”
The very first one was “Rein in your own feelings, and sublimate them to the needs of your child.”
That exercise of control over your own feelings happens inwardly. If you do it well, there will be no outward sign that it is taking place within you.
Number two in the list is your first outward action, and that is:
Immediately affirm your love for your child.
Do this as quickly as possible, and do it with both words and touch. Tell him you love him, hug him, hold his hand, look him in the eye, and affirm his dignity and worth as a human being.
Acknowledge that it takes a lot of courage to have difficult conversations like this, and that you’re grateful that he is sharing this important information with you.
Accept that your kid has these feelings. One of the definitions of “accept,” from the Merriam Webster dictionary is: to endure without protest or reaction. That is the definition that we are dealing with here. I might add to that take at face value. Acceptance is not synonymous with affirming or celebrating.
Resist any inclination to dismiss or deny his feelings of attraction, because that is disrespectful of his experience. Don’t try to reframe or rename his feelings. Feelings are real. Give your child the freedom to feel whatever it is that he feels.
Be empathetic. Recognize that your child has been experiencing a lot of confusion and pain. Apologize that you didn’t see it earlier. Make sure he knows you will be there for him from here on out.
The gay culture emphasizes the stories of kids who came out to their parents, and who then were kicked out of the house. Tragically, this does happen, but not as often as they make it seem. Your child may have heard so much about this phenomenon that he may be expecting that of you. So assure him of your ongoing love for him, and that you will all work through this as a family.