What Parents Need to Know to Support Their LGBTQ+ Teen

What Parents Need to Know to Support Their LGBTQ+ Teen

What Parents Need to Know to Support Their LGBTQ+ Teen

Identifying as a member of the LGBTQ+ population can be challenging for teens. Adolescence in and out itself can be a difficult developmental period, as children strive to establish their identities and find acceptance among peers and the larger society. Identifying as a member of a sexual minority group can make the teen years even more difficult. 

 

In fact, research has shown that LGBTQ+ youth are at increased risk of being victims of bullying, teasing, harassment, and physical assault. These concerns also increase the likelihood that they will miss school, and they place LGBTQ+ youth at a higher risk for depression, suicide, and substance abuse. Individual therapy can greatly help support young LGBTQ+ individuals in these challenges, but the most impactful support needed is from parents at home.

 

Given the risk factors that LGBTQ+ youth face, parental support, and acceptance are critically important for teens who belong to this population. Learn strategies for supporting your teen below.

The Importance of Parental Support

Having support and acceptance can make a world of difference for LGBTQ+ teens. In fact, research shows that having two accepting parents has beneficial effects on mental health for LGBTQ+ youth. Parental support is also linked to a reduced risk of depression.

 

On the other hand, negative responses from parents reduce well-being among LGBTQ+ teens, and those who argue with their parents are more distressed. Teens whose parents respond negatively to their sexual orientation are also at increased risk of substance abuse.

 

A conclusion from the available research is that parents can reduce some of the negative outcomes, including mental health problems and substance abuse, that occur at higher rates among LGBTQ+ youth. Managing these risk factors requires parental support, acceptance, and unconditional love. 

How To Support Your Teen 

You probably recognize the important role you play in your teen’s life, but you may be unsure of how to best support a teen who identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ population. Some of the tips below can open the door for conversation and help you to show support for your teenager. 

Express Your Love And Acceptance 

Teens who belong to a sexual minority group may face their share of discrimination and maltreatment in the public, so they need to know that home is always a safe place for them. Expressing that you love and accept them no matter who they are, communicates to your teen that they have your unconditional love and can talk to you at any time. In fact, a recent study found that teens were more likely to initiate conversations with their parents when parental acceptance of their sexual orientation was high. 

Be Open To Conversation 

You don’t need to be an expert on LGBTQ+ culture, but it’s important that your teen understands that you are willing to talk to them about what they are experiencing. Even if they aren’t willing to open up right away, leaving the door open to future conversation will make them more comfortable with approaching you when issues do arise. When your teen feels comfortable talking with you, they won’t feel the need to hide struggles like depression or bullying from you. 

Don’t Avoid The Topic Of Sex 

Parents who identify with heterosexual culture may be uncomfortable discussing sex with their LGBQT+ teen, or they may assume that their children don’t want to hear from their heteroesexual parents. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A study with LGBTQ women revealed that they wished their parents had not only affirmed the fact that there are a variety of possible sexual and gender identities; they also wish that they had been provided with information about sexual health, contraception, and consent. Even if your sexual identity differs from that of your teen, you are a valuable source of information. 

Remain Open-Minded 

Your teen’s gender and/or sexual identify may differ from your own, and it may even challenge your pre-existing ideas about the world, but remaining open minded shows your child that you are willing to be inclusive and accept them, regardless of their differences. You can demonstrate your open-mindedness by making an effort to learn about the LGBTQ+ culture, joining advocacy and public awareness campaigns, and really taking the time to listen to your child. Do not dismiss them or try to tell them that their feelings are invalid or that they are simply “going through a phase.” 

 

If your teen has come out as belonging to the LGBTQ+ population, there are resources available to support you and your family. Family counseling sessions may be beneficial to help you and your teen learn effective ways of communicating and managing conflict. Support groups may also be helpful for you and your LGBTQ+ teen, as they provide a safe setting where you can discuss your experiences and learn from others who are navigating the same waters. 

 

Sources:
1)https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm

2)https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10935-010-0229-1

3)https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jora.12071?casa_token=3Jd7-n5Z26cAAAAA%3A4F7R5WCiHTQABv72BjIMf97lfQ-3gUCk2P2DNmZq-iffaU1Zd4_VntQvbNiim3DSD3QtjKlv8ZQPOG4

4)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15546128.2021.1880346

Teens who belong to a sexual minority group may face their share of discrimination and maltreatment in the public, so they need to know that home is always a safe place for them. Expressing that you love and accept them no matter who they are, communicates to your teen that they have your unconditional love and can talk to you at any time. In fact, a recent study found that teens were more likely to initiate conversations with their parents when parental acceptance of their sexual orientation was high.
Be Open To Conversation
You don’t need to be an expert on LGBTQ+ culture, but it’s important that your teen understands that you are willing to talk to them about what they are experiencing. Even if they aren’t willing to open up right away, leaving the door open to future conversation will make them more comfortable with approaching you when issues do arise. When your teen feels comfortable talking with you, they won’t feel the need to hide struggles like depression or bullying from you.
Don’t Avoid The Topic Of Sex
Parents who identify with heterosexual culture may be uncomfortable discussing sex with their LGBQT+ teen, or they may assume that their children don’t want to hear from their heteroesexual parents. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A study with LGBTQ women revealed that they wished their parents had not only affirmed the fact that there are a variety of possible sexual and gender identities; they also wish that they had been provided with information about sexual health, contraception, and consent. Even if your sexual identity differs from that of your teen, you are a valuable source of information.
Remain Open-Minded
Your teen’s gender and/or sexual identify may differ from your own, and it may even challenge your pre-existing ideas about the world, but remaining open minded shows your child that you are willing to be inclusive and accept them, regardless of their differences. You can demonstrate your open-mindedness by making an effort to learn about the LGBTQ+ culture, joining advocacy and public awareness campaigns, and really taking the time to listen to your child. Do not dismiss them or try to tell them that their feelings are invalid or that they are simply “going through a phase.”

If your teen has come out as belonging to the LGBTQ+ population, there are resources available to support you and your family. Family counseling sessions may be beneficial to help you and your teen learn effective ways of communicating and managing conflict. Support groups may also be helpful for you and your LGBTQ+ teen, as they provide a safe setting where you can discuss your experiences and learn from others who are navigating the same waters.

Sources:
1)https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm
2)https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10935-010-0229-1
3)https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jora.12071?casa_token=3Jd7-n5Z26cAAAAA%3A4F7R5WCiHTQABv72BjIMf97lfQ-3gUCk2P2DNmZq-iffaU1Zd4_VntQvbNiim3DSD3QtjKlv8ZQPOG4
4)https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15546128.2021.1880346

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