When a child comes out as homo- or bisexual, many parents are confronted with questions such as: How can I best support my child? How do I deal with my worries? Have I done something wrong?
Your child is fine the way he/she is. Homo- or bisexual children and youth can grow up just as happy as heterosexuals. Many get positive support from their friends when coming out. At the same time, many experience discrimination. Hence, it is even more important that you treat your child with love and respect.
How do I handle a coming out?
A coming out is often preceded by a realization phase. Many children and young people develop fear of negative reactions. So, it’s usually a great sign of trust when your child confides in you.
Do not push your child when you suspect that he/she might be homo- or bisexual. Give your child time to figure out his/her sexual identity for him/herself. Let your child know that you believe that all sexual orientations are of equal value. For example, you can read them a children’s book on this subject or tell them about colleagues and friends that are homo- or bisexual.
Take your child seriously. Do not play down his/her feelings as a “phase”. Your child knows best about his/her sexual orientation.
Respect your child’s privacy. Do not out your child without his/her explicit consent for that very set of people and in that very moment.
Dealing with one’s own questions and fears
Some parents develop questions and worries after the coming out of their child:
“Have I failed as a parent?” Some parents ask themselves whether they did something wrong. But there is no reason to do that. Sexual orientation is neither transmitted nor can it be prevented through education. Do not blame your child; rather empower your child at all times.
“Do I need to worry that my child gets AIDS?” Anyone can get infected with HIV. Inform your child about contraction risks and safe sex irrespective of sexual orientation and gender.
“But I want to have grandchildren!” It is up to your child to decide if he/she wants to become a parent or not. Today some homo- and bisexual couples are living with children. Some opt for co-parenting where not all participants are biologically related to the child. Others decide to adopt a child together.
Supporting your child
Encourage your child to take the path that is right for him/her and join for example, a homo- and/or bisexual youth group. Let your child know that you stand by him/her at all times, for example, when coming out in school.
Show your child that his/her coming out is not a problem for you by reacting openly and in an encouraging way. You will find tips and ideas in guidebooks for parents. You can also join parent support groups for parents with homo- and bisexual children and exchange views with other parents.