There are some typical stages parents of LGBTQ youth go through when they find out the news. However, you may find that you skip over certain stages, or go through them in a different order. Here are some of the most common stages:
- Grief — You may feel as if you are mourning a loss, because the news will force you to let go of certain expectations and wishes you may have for your child (such as the loss of your dream that your child will have a ‘normal’ family life in the future).
- Denial — This reaction is your way of protecting yourself from information that feels painful or threatening. (examples of denial expression: “No child of mine is gay.” “You’re only going through a phase, it’ll pass.”)
- Guilt — You may be blaming yourself for doing something wrong, which ‘turned’ your child gay. (I will later address why there is no reason to blame yourself.)
- Decision-making — Once you’ve had some time to let the emotions settle, you can think more rationally about how to proceed with this knowledge of your child’s gay orientation. Some parents decide to become opponents, and enable the news of their child’s sexuality to become the source of much conflict and despair. Hopefully, however, you will fall into the category of parents who decide to support their child and maintain a close relationship.
- Acceptance — Some parents are so accepting that they become passionate advocates of gay rights. Others aren’t as zealous but are able to come to peace with, and even embrace, their child’s sexual identity (such as by welcoming his/her partner at family functions). Hopefully you will find yourself on the spectrum of acceptance eventually, if you aren’t quite there yet.