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Tips for Parents of LGBTQIA Youth

LGBTQIA youth face unique mental health challenges as they struggle to reconcile their faith, sexual identity, or gender identity. If you are a parent of an LGBTQIA youth moving towards accepting your child’s identity, I would like to share a few thoughts. In this blog post, I will discuss the importance of familial support to LGBTQIA youth. Then, I will share simple, practical actions to support your child through this moment.


LGBTQIA youth who question their identity hide who they truly are for fear of being rejected by their families. LGBTQIA youth worry about hurting their parents and family members who believe that being gay is immoral and sinful. But when LGBTQIA youth hide their identities, they pay a high cost. It undermines their self-esteem and self-worth. New research shows that families and caregivers significantly influence their LGBTQIA youth’s risk and well-being. The Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition reports that LGBTQIA teens who experience family rejection are eight times more likely to die by suicide than LGBTQIA teens accepted by family. Data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that LGBTQIA teens who are rejected by their families are six times more likely to have high levels of
depression, three times more likely to use illegal drugs, and three times more likely to be at increased risk for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases.


Conversely, studies show that LGBTQIA youth who are accepted by their families experience overall physical and emotional health. It also helps them to develop higher self-esteem and value their inherent sense of worthiness. Furthermore, LGBTQIA youth accepted by their families are less likely to be depressed, use illegal drugs, or attempt suicide. Family acceptance also helps LGBTQIA youth create healthy beliefs about their life outcome. They believe that they will be happy, productive, and have a good life with family support. If you are motivated to support your child through this acceptance journey, but unsure what to do, you are not alone.


Finally, parents, you may be struggling with your emotions, and that’s ok and normal. However, it is critical to emphasize that parents’ or caregivers’ actions and words have a powerful impact on their children’s well-being. If you’d like to foster a more supportive environment for a LGBTQIA child or teen, here are a few things you can do.

  1. Show love and affection.
    LGBTQIA youth worry about being loved by their parents or caregivers. The question that they may be asking themselves is, “Am I loved? Am I lovable?” Don’t hesitate to tell your child, “I love you.” Also, show your child displays of physical affection. These actions will promote a secure attachment between you and your child.
  2. Reach out and listen
    Your child may interpret long periods of silence as a sign of anger. It will feel uncomfortable to talk about your teens’ sexual orientation or sexual identity but reach out to talk to them about their experiences. Listen to what they have to say and respond with empathy.
  3. Happy future
    Parents, accepting your LGBTQIA youth allow them to envision a happy future as an LGBTQIA adult. A positive narrative about the future is essential to counteract isolation, hopelessness, risky behaviors, and suicide ideation.
  4. Stand up for your child.
    Remember, as a parent, your words are powerful. Through your journey and your child’s journey, you may hear some negative comments from families and friends. When you hear these negative comments, it is an opportunity to practice courage and let others know that you will not
    accept insults, teasing, or discrimination against your child. Insist that family members and friends treat your child with respect or rethink the very definition of family and friends.
  5. When you know better, do better.
    As human beings, we are always evolving and growing. As parents, we also make mistakes. Do not try to be perfect but try to be human. American poet Dr. Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Parents, your LGBTQIA child needs your love. They are afraid and worried that you might never love them. They need a secure attachment bond to become physically and emotionally healthy adults.

References:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, June 21). LGBT Youth. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm. 

Sanders, R., & Fields, E. L. Tips for Parents of LGBTQ Youth. Johns Hopkins Medicine.
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/tips-for-parents-of-
lgbtq-youth. 

Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition. (2017). Utah Suicide Prevention Plan 2017-2021.
https://www.health.utah.gov/vipp/pdf/Suicide/SuicidePreventionCoalitionPlan2017-
2021.pdf. 

Resources:
Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
https://pflag.org/chapter/pflag-salt-lake-city

Utah Pride Center
https://www.utahpridecenter.org

Equality Utah
https://www.equalityutah.org/mission

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How to Handle Being Rejected

How to Handle Being Rejected

No one likes to be rejected. No one.
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Whether it’s not landing that job you desperately wanted or getting turned down for a date by someone you’ve been crushing on, it’s painful to be told “no.” And what can be even worse is that these kinds of experiences can send you spiraling into self-doubt. Negative thoughts like, “what’s wrong with me?” or, “I’ll never be able to get ahead in my career” can add to your frustration and may even limit you from pursuing goals in the future. But the truth is that rejection is universal and unavoidable; everyone is rejected at some point! Thankfully, there are some key things to remember and strategies to help you avoid getting emotionally crushed. Here are some ways to deal with the reality that not everything you want or go for will work out:
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If you find yourself obsessing over being rejected, you might want to step back and view what happened as objectively as you can. We sometimes have a tendency to catastrophize, or make some things seem worse than they actually are. Keep in mind that just because you feel rejected doesn’t mean you actually are.
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Ask A Therapist: I Really Want To Trust My Boyfriend

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost four years. We have a really great relationship. However, over the last few months, I’ve been suffering from anxiety. I feel like something is wrong with our relationship and I am having a really hard time trusting my boyfriend. My boyfriend dated his ex for two years before we dated. She cheated on him and I don’t think he ever got over it. I had never dated anyone before him. He has never cheated  on me and up to this point we have been looking for engagement rings. it all started with an article I read online about men cheating. I was feeling insecure and I looked at my boyfriends phone. he still had his ex-girlfriends contact info. I asked him to delete it and anything else relating to her, but a few weeks later, I saw that he still had some old pictures and emails from her on his computer. I feel like he’s keeping all these things for a reason. I just can’t get over it. I feel heart broken. He says he forgot he had all this stuff. How do I trust him? Is it me?

 

A: Thanks for your email. This may be more of your own personal issue than an issue of trust with your boyfriend. Do you have a history of rejection or abandonment in your past? From what you’ve shared, you have a solid relationship. Watch the video for my complete response.

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks, LCSW

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