I have recently started reading several different blogs about parents who are raising gender non-conforming children. They often bring me to tears as I read about these parents who are able to be there with their kids exactly as they are. They are not trying to make their children into something they are not. It got me thinking more about that level of acceptance in children, not just LGBT children, but all children. The overweight child, the child with the learning disability, the non-athletic child, the list can go on and on. Parents want the best for their children, but sometimes in that effort they push their children to be something that they aren’t. This leads to self doubt which can lead into other things such as anxiety and depression. The Family Acceptance project has published research that showed that parents that accepted their LGBT children, had children with better outcomes. I can’t believe that issue had to be researched, but at the same time I am grateful that it was. There is now real data that shows the importance of family acceptance in a very concrete way. When I saw that LGBT children that didn’t have family acceptance tended to not want children of their own, it made me sad.
But this is a lesson that all parents can learn from. Take this opportunity to look at your child and see what you might be trying to change about him/her. It may not be something you are very conscious of. It may be that you want a happy child and you try to make your child happy even when they need to be sad or angry. I work a lot with children and adolescents and they all want their parent’s acceptance and they all want to be listened to. In a parent’s effort to protect their children from bad, they talk more then they listen. Listen. Try a conversation with your child where you just listen and acknowledge their feelings without trying to change them or their feelings. It will be hard but it can establish the open and trusting relationship that help children move successfully into adulthood.
Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Young Adults by Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D, ACSW, Rafael M, Diaz, Ph,d, David Huebner, Ph.d, MPH, Jorge Sanchez, BA,