Remattie J. is concerned about her teen son, who is gay and seems to slipping into depression. Her son is a loner by nature. The family lives in a small town without much awareness of and support for gay youth, and this Circle of Moms member is at a loss for how to help him.
The "It Gets Better" campaign has had a broad impact, and homosexuality is becoming increasingly accepted by the mainstream across the U.S. Still, gay teens can fall through the cracks. When their hormones rage they become fearful of what others — including their parents — might think of them, and they feel alone in the universe.
All kids deserve their parents' love and support, and teens have specific needs in that department. If your teen is gay or bi-sexual, or exploring his or her sexuality, here are some specific issues you should be aware of — and some ways to help.
1. Find a Local Support Group for Your Teen
Circle of Moms member Amber R. suggests finding a local resource for gays and lesbians, preferably one that specializes in youth issues. There are local chapters of national groups even in many small towns; one good place to start is the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national organization that serves as a resource for all geographical areas and all ages. They can put you in touch with a group that can best support your family in your area.
2. Love Your Teen Unconditionally
Jenn M. has a gay brother who hid his sexuality when they were growing up, and she emphasizes the value of unconditional love, even for parents who might be struggling with their own emotional responses to the news that their child is gay or bi-sexual. Many other parents echo this sentiment.
3. Get Emotional Support for Yourself
As for your own struggles, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is the best starting point. It's common even among parents who support gay rights, and don't consider themselves homophobic, to have a range of emotions upon hearing that a child is, or might be, gay.
As a Circle of Moms member named Jodi shares, her brother is gay, and their mother always said the hardest thing for her was knowing that he would face difficulties she couldn't alleviate. That feeling of helplessness is common.
Joanna B. says her kids' sexuality is a non-issue, "as long as she gets grand babies." (While that opens a new can of worms, it is certainly possible now for gay men and lesbians to have children, by a variety of different means.)
Jennifer L. says her husband indicated that he would be "disappointed" if their son was gay, but that he would still love him. Working with a therapist or counselor, or even talking it through with a good friend, can help transform negative feelings and help a parent work through the emotional phases that can accompany news like this.
The bottom line is that, in this world of bullying, violence, and teen suicide, the best thing we can do is to love our kids for who they are, and show them support, even in the most challenging of circumstances.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.