Life seems to have become far simpler today for the gay, lesbian, and transgendered among us; with acceptance, rather than mere tolerance, having become the norm, even to the point of marriage equality in many states. Yet, despite the progress made in the past decade or two, coming out to family and friends remains a frightening prospect for many, especially coming out to parents.
While it is clear that self-acceptance is the first step in the process of being accepted by others, it must also be said that accepting others for who they are is equally critical. Let me explain…
Accepting your parents will enhance your relationship
For most of us, our parents were raised to believe that being straight, getting married, and raising children was the only acceptable path for their lives. This belief system continued as they raised their children and tried to promote that same belief system in them. This is quite natural, as we all tend to promote the lifestyle in which we were raised. Understanding and accepting this may be one of the keys to explaining yourself to your parents, and ultimately receiving their support, as well as their continued love.
You see, as parents, we have a vision of what and whom our children will become. We project their future based on our own model for happiness, and try to develop ways to help them achieve both happiness and success. We rarely envision for them a lifestyle that may create added burdens, and we fear for them when challenges and obstacles present themselves. The possibility of unknown complications for LGBT individuals in our society can generate great fear in parents, which can lead to denial and anger. Knowing this may help you to ease the path for your parents as you come out to them.
Be Prepared for these Common Reactions
While every family and relationship is unique, there are some fairly common responses you might expect from your parents. These are known as the Stages of Acceptance. Understanding this, and knowing what to expect, can make the process of coming out to your parents much less stressful for everyone involved.
- Expression of feelings
- Personal decision-making
- True acceptance
Knowing this, and accepting yourself despite the path your parents may have directed you to take, is just as critical to being accepted by them when you come out. They will have questions and fears that only a person who is confident in their own skin can put to rest. As loving parents, they will seek understanding, and you are the one who can provide it for them. By helping them to understand your same-sex attraction, and that it is not a reflection on them as parents, you will ease their path to acceptance, thereby easing your own.
Granted, it may seem unfair that you must do so much of the work to find acceptance from those who profess to love you, but this is not a reflection on you directly, but merely a fact of life. After all, if it eases your path to acceptance, and theirs, isn’t it worth it?