So your perfect little child who's evolved from ribbons in her hair, ballet lessons and tap. Your child who you've been planning her wedding for years and looking forward to meeting your awesome grand kids has announced she's lesbian. Yikes! (Sips tea) Now what!
Right now you must be anxious thinking she needs therapy or has been molested. Thinking its a phase, you may be in denial, shocked or just numb.
When asked what they hate the most about coming out as a teen lesbian, girls told me this:
"First thing people think I must have been sexually assaulted. Well, no one touched me as a kid."
"When I first came out, I worried how everybody would view me. Each time someone first finds out, I still have insomnia."
"You're too pretty to be lesbian."
The above are just some of the many startling quotes I got. As parents we must listen. Though we may feel angry or sad or some other negative. Our aim should be to love, support and cope with our girls. Take a deep breath and explore these four coping tips.
1. Resist the urge to commit one of the dangerous DON'Ts
Don't ask too many questions, now is not the time to wonder who is the man or that type of awkwardness maybe there is no man in her relationship.
Don't assume she has already started doing anything physical either. For example, a friend of mine shared that her daughter who was still in high school at the time, came out to her while they were at the beach one day. As a Christian mom she felt heart broken and angry, and hastily snapped at her daughter "I hope you are practicing safe sex. Do you even own a dental dam?" "What, what mom? asked the daughter. Mom: "Don't you guys do oral?" "Hell no! No mom we don't" retorted her daughter. We kissed once, "I'm not physically sexual as yet mom!" scolded her daughter. The take away point here is NEVER assume, as if we don't know this already.
2. REFRAIN FROM THE BLAME GAME
Do not start blaming any one. Your child's sexual orientation or sexual identity is not a reflection of your parenting. Your child was probably not sexually assaulted and is not lesbian because her parents broke up, separated or divorced.
No one did this to her, this life is her journey and you must be supportive; whether or not your religious affiliation or social status are in alignment. Your daughter's needs and happiness should be the most significant factor.
3. TRY NOT TO LABEL YOUR CHILD
Just as you do not wake up in the mornings and look at yourself in the mirror asserting hey I am who I am and I am very straight, heterosexual or otherwise. Your daughter equally doesn't wish to be categorized/defined by societal labels and names. Rather than name call, try to improve your knowledge on the subject. Read blogs, surf the net or just plain old google it. The probability of self destructive behaviors among teens with alternate sexual orientation increases each time these teens are victimized in some way. Be aware of what you say and teach friends and family the same.
4. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. STOP WORRYING.
Sexuality is one facet of an individual and as such a mere facet to their personality and make up. A person's sexual orientation is only one area of their life and we must not forget that. Recent statistics show that over eight million adults in the US identify as lesbian, gay, or, bisexual. Additionally, 2011 estimates illustrated that approximately 19 million Americans report that they have participated in some same-sex behavior, and nearly 25 million Americans have acknowledged some level of same sex attraction (UCLA, 2011).
It is okay, millions of families have gone through similar experiences. You may feel angry, in denial, shock or sheer numbness, it is alright, FEEL it!
The second leading cause of death among persons aged 10-24 is suicide, believe it or not. The rate of suicide for LGBTQ teens is four times higher than that of straight teens.
Suicide rates of lesbian teens is on the rise. Loving your child now may save their life later. How we respond now dictates how our child may survive.