Parents have, for years, dreamed up their children’s futures.
Johnny’s going to be a doctor when he gets older.
Susie’s going to marry a lawyer.
Okay, so these examples are way dated, but you get my point. Parents half-joke about who their children are going to marry and what they’re going to be “when they grow up” all the time. And while it’s all done in good humor, and while most — if not all — parents would say they always and only have their child’s best interests in mind, when was the last time you heard a friend say that maybe Johnny would marry George when he’s older … ?
Acceptance of who our children are begins with our language, and it continues with our actions. And it’s never too early to start thinking about how to love and support your child, even — and especially — if that child is gay and no one even knows it yet. Rejection from family is one of the greatest heartbreaks the gay community faces. I know I’m lucky to have such an incredible and accepting family right from my coming out, and before! But not all people are so blessed. My wife has struggled — and continues to struggle — with members of her family, including her parents, because she is gay. It is her biggest and greatest source of pain. It’s also a total shame because my wife is one of the most big-hearted and loving people on the planet.
The truth of the matter is that any child might be gay, and there isn’t a single thing in the world that can be done to change that. But more important, no one should ever try to change that. Perhaps you’re pregnant now and thinking of all the ways you’ll love your child. Maybe you’re a new mom and you’re overjoyed by the love you have for your Little One. Maybe you’re the mom of an older kid and you’re amazed by the person she’s turning into. Have you ever considered that your child just might be gay? Possibly not. Know that being gay in today’s world is slightly safer than it has been in years past, but it’s not without its challenges. Your child — the one you’re carrying inside of you right now, or feeding his first solid food to, or watching her take the bus to kindergarten — just might be gay. What are you doing today to let your kid know that you love her or him no matter what?
It really is the little things that make a world of difference. That’s why I was to grateful to Amelia over at the Huffington Post for writing a piece entitled: “10 Ways To Support Your Gay Kid, Whether You Know You Have One Or Not.” Her article is so spot-on. She offers simple advice on how to show your kid that being gay is okay. Be sure to check it out!
Here, I’ve included 3 of Amelia’s tips and added some of my own from personal experience. These simple and loving tips to support your gay child — or future gay child — in your life will foster feelings of acceptance and safety, and will eventually allow your child to openly come to you as he is.
Love + Support Your Child No Matter What 1 of 8
Click through for 7 smart tips on how to love and support the gay child you don't even know you have!
Original Photo: iStockphoto
Acknowledge Your Kid Might be Gay 2 of 8
First and foremost, don't ever say, "My kids will never be gay." The truth is, you just don't know and it's possible that the baby you're carrying now or any of the young children you may already have are gay. Understand that anybody, including your own child, could be gay. Check out the Huffington Post's article about what it was like for Amelia when her 7-year-old son came out.
Read + Share Gay-Friendly Books 3 of 8
Start showing your love and support of gay people and possibly your child at an early age. Include gay-family books in your nightly story time. Even if your kid doesn't come out as gay years down the road, she or he will learn through books that gay people and gay families are as loving and real as their own. Also, it's quite possible that your child ends up with friends from gay families, or even gay friends.
Check out 20 Family Diversity Books Every Home Should Have to add to your family library!
And be sure to check out the Huffington Post's list of anti-gay children's books, and keep the hate out of your house.
Hang a Rainbow Flag During Pride 4 of 8
Something as simple as swapping out your seasonal flag for a rainbow flag during the month of June shows your support of the gay community. Since many families decorate for the different seasons (bunny flags at Easter, pumpkins in the Fall, stars and stripes during the 4th, etc.), including Pride month sends a message to your kid who might happen to be gay that diversity is honored and celebrated in your home.
Write a Letter with Your Child to Make a Difference 5 of 8
While equal rights for gays are becoming more and more of a reality, there is still a lot of inequality. If you live in a state that doesn't allow marriage equality, talk to your child about how important it is that all people be protected under the law regardless of who they love. You can turn this conversation into an afternoon activity by writing your local representative, senator, congressman, etc. to ask her or him to work to grant the rights of all Americans. And if you do live in a state with marriage equality, write a letter about employment and housing protections for LGBTQs. As it stands today, a gay person can be legally fired in 29 states simply for being gay (Source). Writing a letter to show your support is a fun learning activity!
Visit LGBTQ Community Centers 6 of 8
Taking kids to museums and other places of cultural and historical interest is nothing new. Parents do it all the time. Expand the scope of your day trips and family time by visiting the local LGBTQ community center. If there isn't one in your community, check to see if there are any wherever you're planning your next family trip or vacation. Not only do these centers offer a plethora of resources for the gay community, but they also often sponsor events, like music nights and picnics. Be an advocate just by being there!
Don’t Assume Your Kid is Straight 7 of 8
My heart breaks ever so slightly every time I hear a friend speak of their child's future spouse by assuming it will be a husband or wife of the opposite sex. While it's such an innocent thing to do among friends with children ("Madison and Jacob are totally gonna get married some day," or "Maybe we'll let Aiden and Hallie start dating in high school."), you're automatically assuming that your child is straight. That's not to say you can't still joke around, but try to throw in the occasional, "Unless Madison marries Hallie, which would would be fine too!" Kids pick up on things, and while saying that it's okay if Madison ends up with Hallie is never in a million years going to make your kid gay, it will let her or him know that you love them no matter what.
Realize Nothing You Do Determines Your Kid’s Sexual Orientation 8 of 8
Doing everything on this list, plus the countless other things you can do to show your support for the gay community that aren't included here, is not going to turn your child gay. Nothing is going to turn your child gay. She either is or isn't. On the same coin, nothing you do to keep your child from being gay is going to change the fact that he or she is, though that will undoubtedly cause your child emotional and mental harm -- to say nothing of the fact that it will isolate your child from you and likely push them away. I've seen it all too often. If you're having a hard time accepting your gay child, check out the helpful article from the Huffington Post entitled: "How God Helped Me Accept My Gay Son."
Read more of Aela’s writing at Two Moms Make a Right
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