Are you raising a child who is in the LGBTQIA+ community
If you are raising a child who is in the LGBTQIA+ community you may be really overwhelmed right now. It seems like every day there are news stories that come out about bills, laws and hate crimes that are all direct attacks on the community. That is why it is so vital that a child who is a member of the LGBTQIA+ community has a supportive family unit and a parent ally.
Below are the top 5 ways that you can create that for your child, and preserve their mental health as they navigate the world.
**With every blog that we make to support LGBTQIA+ youth we have to make an important disclaimer. Being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community is NOT a mental health challenge. Societal and sometimes familial pressures can harm the mental health of LGBTQIA+ youth. It is important that we talk about it, and get resources to parents of LGBTQIA+ youth.
#1 – Start early
It can be helpful to have an already established household tone.
Talk about Pride Month and why it exists. On family movie night pick a movie with an inspiring character who is in the LGBTQIA+ community. Use the correct pronouns listed on the grocery store employee’s badge. Make it a point to talk about the issues facing the LGBTQIA+ community and how upset it makes you.
By setting this tone are you acknowledging the hardships the community faces. Prove to your children early and often that you are an ally for this incredible community.
#2 – Make your home their sanctuary
Making your home a sanctuary for your child means calling them by their preferred pronouns. It means having every member of your household not only accept but embrace your child and who they are. If you have extended family members who chose to not see your child for who they are, make them not welcome. We know this may feel awkward but if you have to step on a few toes to allow your child one completely free space then so be it.
When your child walks through your front door they should feel a sigh of relief. That no matter what is going on outside they know once they are in your four walls that they are safe, they are accepted, and they are seen.
#3 – Be loud and proud
Not only do you want to set your household tone, but sing it to the world! It can show your child you love and accept them by being a loud and proud advocate for the community as a whole. Put your pronouns in your email signature. Share articles on social media about challenges that are impacting the community.
This could be a great way to show your child you support them but you want to be cautious not to tokenize them. Talk to your child ahead of time to make sure they are comfortable with you posting what you planned on posting.
Don’t worry! You don’t need to check with them every time you try and advocate for and celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. However, it’s best to check in every so often with their comfort levels before proceeding. Be mindful and respectful of their feedback. Tell them you want to support them in the way that they feel most comfortable with.
#4 – Check-in often
Even if your child knows that you are a safe place to vent to, it doesn’t always mean they will. It can be scary to ask for help so it is a good idea to sprinkle in check-ins. A lot of children experience anxiety about speaking up so this can help.
A great tip that we love is to try some shoulder to shoulder talking. We have found this works the best in the car. Other times like when both of you are doing the dishes works well too. These types of conversations have been tested by our staff of parents time and time again. It is where they get the most honesty and vulnerability from their children.
#5 – Never stop learning
Find a trusted news source and check it to see what is going on. Bring some of these stories up at appropriate times to show your child that you are an active ally for the community. These stories can be a great way for you to gage your child’s anxiety. Use them as a catalyst for conversations that may be difficult to broach otherwise.
It can also be helpful to keep doing research on how to best be a parent ally. Information on pronouns, terminology, and how to best support your child are always changing.
To view a handpicked list of parent friendly LGBTQIA+ resources, with a mental health focus, check out our resources
Check out LGBTQIA+ resources now!
The Parent Alliance is a nonprofit, which means we provide our core services for free. Your donation keeps our services available and accessible to all parents in Pennsylvania. Donate to the Parent Alliance here.