What to Say If Your Teen Comes out as Gay or Lesbian

How do I avoid blowing this crucial conversation?

Mother and daughter having a talk
Getty Images/Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy

Question:

What should I say if my teen tells me he/she is gay, lesbian or bisexual?

Answer:

If your teen comes out to you as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, the most important thing to start with is a reaffirmation of your love for him or her. Say, “I love you.” Follow that up with an expression of gratitude for your teen's openness. “Thank you for trusting me enough to tell me,” you can say.

Body language is important, too.

Start with a huge hug and hold on tight. Kisses are appropriate, too. This shows your teen that you believe them to be worthy of love no matter who they are, and who they love.

If you can do this when your teen tells you about his/her alternative sexuality, despite any interior gut reactions you may be feeling, your relationship with your child will remain strong while you adjust to what for you may be a whole new reality.

Other supportive things you might say include:

  • "I'm going to need your help to understand all of this, but you are my child and nothing can stop my love for you."
  • "I'm going to need time to accept this, but you are my child and nothing can stop my love for you."

At this point, to show that you are being genuine, you can allow your teen to open up about this part of their life by asking them questions that can help fill in the gaps in your own understanding. Making unwarranted assumptions about your teen's announcement can be more detrimental than anything else.

Asking questions will show your teen that you're eager to take an active role in every part of their life, even the parts you weren't entirely prepared for.

And if you were unable to do this when your teen came out to you, it’s okay. It's not too late to repair your relationship. You can fix things.

And the first thing you can do toward this end is educate yourself about alternative sexualities and gender identities. After that, acknowledge the courage it took for your child to come out to you. Consider the probability that your acceptance of your teen's sexuality is important to them. And remember how much you love them.

All of this can help you move toward acceptance, especially if acceptance was hard to come by initially.

This new information is an essential part of your teen's identity. You are an essential part of your teen's life.

Assuming your teen is also an essential part of your life, handle this conversation with love and care. And don't ever force your teen to choose between you and who they are as a person.

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