June is Pride month and for many that’s a time to come out of the closet. If you’re a teen or child living with parents, you might be wondering how to come out to your parents? While there is no easy answer, and every family is different, you can expect similar reactions.
The average age when kids come out to their parents is 17, though many come out much younger. Studies show that a child who is openly gay, bisexual, lesbian or trans – having a strong relationship with parents, can increase self esteem, fosters good mental health, can prevent or reduce suicidal feelings, risky behaviors like drug abuse and casual sex and can help kids develop a strong sense of self.
Of course, there are times when it is not a good idea to come out. If you believe you would not be safe if you did, you should refrain from telling your parents. If you are financially dependent still, it might be best to wait to tell them until you can afford your own place to live – if you think they would throw you out of the house.
If those are not concerns, but you’ve just haven’t been able to tell your parents that you are gay, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Timing – There’s never a “right” time and never a “wrong” time to tell your parents your truth, however you might want to refrain from telling them at large holiday family gatherings where they might be too busy to give you their complete attention or when major life events take place like a parents divorce, the death of a grandparent or any other family crisis. Sometimes, it’s easiest to tell a parent your truth in the spur of the moment while driving to the dentist appointment or running errands. You’ll probably never know when the time is perfect, but you’ll have a good idea that it’s probably the best time.
Be Ready to Answer Questions – When you come out to your parents they’re going to have questions. Be prepared to answer appropriate questions and be prepared to tell them that some questions are too private or that you don’t feel comfortable answering.
Be Comfortable with Your Truth – Most parents just want to know that their child is happy and healthy – the rest is gravy. If you don’t want to worry your parents, tell them when you feel most comfortable and confident with yourself.
Parental Approval is Not Required – Though it is appreciated. You don’t need your parents approval, if they can’t give it, that is okay. Now is the time to establish boundaries that keep you healthy. This might be a good time to do some family counseling if they are not supportive, or worse, think you are going through a phase or believe you are sinning. Family therapy can be very helpful in this process, and can be a great resource for family members who don’t know what to do when a child comes out.
Give it Time – Some parents are fantastic when their child comes out to them. Some have known all along and were just waiting for the child to come out. Other parents are surprised and may not react the way you would hope they would. Give them time to process this new information. Suggest they attend Pride or some other LGBTQ event so they can see that you are just like everyone else.