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When LGBTQ adults walk down memory lane of their childhood, probably most of them had mixed and confusing emotions that they had to battle through singlehandedly. From being harassed for their gender identity to being mocked because of sexual orientation - their already difficult life gets further complicated by people around them, especially their families, teachers and other people in place of authority trying to tell them that it is just a phase that will pass, or reject them from everywhere just for being different, made their lives further worse.
Irrespective of geographical locations, communities or cultures, there is no denying that all parents want what's best for their children. All they ever think of is whether their kid(s) are happy, healthy and safe.
Family's role is critical in the development of a child and it is from them that a child gets their primary sense of security. Also, when it comes to feeling emotionally safe, children get it from home initially. It is the family that is responsible for shaping a child and imbibing them with values that is crucial in their development. Therefore, creating an environment where they can freely express themselves will help make them feel loved and accepted.
However, if your child comes out as LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer) they may or may not be able to accept their gender identity easily. It is also possible that you as parents, may not have imagined and prepared for it yet, but this is the time to tell and make them feel that no matter what, they will be always loved and accepted unconditionally by their family.
How Parents Of LGBTQ Youths Can Ensure That Their Children Are Happy: Here's How To Start
1. Accept Them And Show Them They Are Loved
Researchers have said that LGBTQ youths who have parents who get the love and support of their families grow up to become happy and healthy adults. Even though parents are not aware of everything that is related to LGBTQ families, they can still show that they care for them. If your kid is shy about starting a conversation related to their gender identity, don't force them, stay beside them and this will give them the courage to face complex issues related to their sexuality or visibility in society.
2. Encouraging Them To Speak
If you want to know about what is going on in your kid's life, then be patient and develop trust. As a parent, you need to be approachable. Do not throw direct questions at them, you can ask a question in an indirect manner. Either you can spark a subtle conversation or take your child to watch a movie related to homosexuality or bisexuality. This can help them to break the ice when it comes to sensitive topics. Also, speeches and discussions on social media can create many teachable moments for parents to share with their children.
3. How To Prepare Them For The Society
Give them a reality check to help them discard the myths that are associated with the LGBTQ community. Be it gender identity or sexual orientation, you can empower them by taking cues from journals, and research papers. Help them understand that they do not need to have a muted existence, and they can be themselves and embrace who they are. Show them that their feelings matter and they do not have to dismiss them. Make them believe that nothing is wrong with them and nothing needs to be cured. Celebrating your child can be a way to boost their confidence and it will prepare them for the world.
4. Lift Them Up When They Are Bullied
Studies have already proved that LGBTQ youths are bullied more than youths who identify themselves as a cisgender or binary gender. If you believe that your child is often targeted at school, college, or workplace, or simply for being different, then consult with a counsellor.
Bullying can be so damaging for a growing child that it can scare them for life. It can lead to behavioural changes, absences that are unexplained, a decline in grades, an inclination towards risky behaviours, discipline problems and a shift in understanding who is a friend and who is not.
5. Be A Team And Stay Active On Social Media
Even though supporting your child always can look like a daunting task but it is essential that as a parent you stay with them when they need you the most. Often LGBTQ youth can feel emotionally vulnerable and therefore, it is for you to understand that your child is struggling more than you are. You do not have to deal with everything on your own, take help from a counsellor, or school administrator or join groups that are specially created for people from the LGBTQ community.
Don't feel overwhelmed and leave your child alone to deal with the rest of the world. Find an inclusive space for your child and monitor when they are dealing with the world on social media and through apps. Teach them how they can connect with new people and make friends and allies. This will help them to learn from others' struggles and experiences and take charge of their own life.
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