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Thursday, January 24, 2013

What Every Parent of a Gay Child Needs to Know: 1. You Are Not Alone

No, you are not alone.  It may not feel that way at first; you may feel there is no one to talk to, no one to turn to for help, no one you can trust with what you just heard.  Perhaps not even your spouse.  Yet your mind is racing with questions: Will my child be alright?  Will she be safe? Will he lose his job, or his friends, or his church?  Is she going to hell?  What can I do?  Can she change?  Is it my fault?  Will I never have grandchildren?

Know that for these questions to surface, and more, is normal.  After all, you are likely entering into a world you are not familiar with, so it feels uncharted, and you are set adrift.

The very first thing I would encourage you to do is to talk to a knowledgeable person.  And get in touch with others who have faced the same situation.  Mothers and fathers of gay children are all around you, but because you have not needed to know this, they aren't on your landscape.  See if there is a PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter near you.  If there is, you will immediately learn that you and your child are in good company where you will meet others who have gone through the same experience and found hope.

If you are reluctant to go to a public meeting, most PFLAG folk would be happy to meet you and discuss personal issues with you and/or your child.  What is most important now is for you to connect with others who can support you positively through this time.

If a PFLAG chapter is not an option, contact a clergy person from the United Church of Christ, the Unitarian Universalist Church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) or any church in the Yellow Pages or online in your community that advertises itself as either "Open and Affirming," or the Methodist's "Reconciling Congregation," or the Presbyterian's  "More Light congregation."  Lacking these, call an Episcopal priest or anyone in the local Interfaith community.  Ask them to recommend a gay-friendly person to talk to.  If you are fortunate to have a church nearby that supports gay inclusion, you will get good answers to your questions.

Your child will have many questions as well.  The PFLAG website has several documents that you can download that are very helpful for both parent and child.  Here's the link to their most requested resource for parents, http://community.pflag.org/document.doc?id=495, "Our Sons and Daughters: Questions and Answers for Parents of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People."  Here's the link for your child: http://www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Be_Yourself.pdf.  "Be Yourself: Questions and Answers for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth."

If all else fails, contact me at info@clergyunited.org, and I will personally assist you and keep everything in confidence.

There is currently running an ad campaign that tells gay youth, "It gets better!"  This is just as true for parents of gay children.  It gets better!  The sooner you contact a supporting person or group, the better you will feel, not only about your child, but about yourself, as someone who can continue to be the loving, supporting parent you have been and will continue to be.



TOMORROW:  What is the LGBT(QIA) thing?

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