As I walk my path through life as a Catholic wife and mom, I would like to share my perspective on how we, as parents, should respond to a son or daughter who is coming out as gay and how should we react.
In this article, I will not discuss whether homosexuality is a mental disorder or a sin. I am not an expert. I am a mother willing to help you and your family in the process of coming out of your kids.
Mom, I am gay! This must be one of the hardest confessions that a child has to ever tell his parents. For them, it has to be like a heavyweight over their shoulders that needs to get down.
I know and understand that being in this situation might be a huge struggle for many parents who fear having one of their children admit to having same-sex attraction (SSA). It is not an easy statement to hear nor to realize. So, if it were the case, that one of your children comes out as gay, we, as parents, must embrace the great role that we have in the family and in society.
Keep in mind that you are the parent of that child. Be thankful and say: This is my son/daughter and not anyone else’s, making sure that with your care and love his life will be the best you can provide.
So, as I walk my path through life as a Catholic wife and mom, I would like to share my perspective on how we, as parents, should respond to a son or daughter who is coming out as gay or a lesbian and how should we react.
Listen. Let your kid express all his feelings with an open heart. Do not react with disappointment, aversion, or anger. Show empathy and love. Hug him if you feel it is necessary.
Control. Keep calm, take deep breaths, and keep silent. Do not interrupt.
Encourage. Once he has opened his heart, let him know that no matter what, you are his mother/father and that you love him. Explain that there is nothing to be ashamed of, and point out that we all have difficulties in life.
Suggest. Present different options: for example, going to therapy or counseling. It will help cope with all the emotional distress that coming out to the world brings. It is the ideal support to organize thoughts and feelings. Consider this option not only for your child but for the family.
If he does not accept any of the previous suggestions, always reassure him that you love him and that no matter what, you and his family are and will be always there for him.
Express. Always tell him that you love him and show your affection to him. Hugs and expressions of affection will always be welcomed.
Silence. Do not talk about the subject any longer unless your child wants to talk about it.
You must keep a loving, caring, open relationship with your child after coming out to you. It is hard enough for them to deal with the criticism and looks from strangers, their peers, on the street, at school, in college, mass media to deal with it at home with their own family.
Remember, home is the place where you feel safe, and secure. Within the family, you find comfort, happiness, and self-determination. Do not lecture, your words may have no meaning after a while. Do not preach, either. Maybe you want to bring your child closer to God and the church, but you may put in danger your child's faith and cause the opposite reaction.
What if my grown-up child brings his partner, what should I do?
To me, this is a simple answer. I will treat him with love and respect as if it were a girlfriend to my son or a boyfriend to my daughter. Some parents may say, “I will not receive them at home” I completely disagree with that statement. If you turn away your child’s partner, you are also turning him away.
Think of it like if your daughter gets pregnant out of matrimony and decides to live with your grandchild’s father. Will you reject them? I do not think so. Or what would it happen if your child admits he is using drugs? Will you tell him to leave your house? I am sure you will not and quite the opposite, you will offer help and support from professionals.
Accepting and welcoming your child’s friends is a big move for you and your family. Your kid will definitely feel loved, supported, and appreciated. If you believe you need to stipulate rules, do it so. There is nothing wrong with home regulations, but make sure to explain the whys.
What about the rest of the family members, what should you do?
Just as your son confessed his privacy to you, he will do it with the other members of the family if he wants and when he wants to do it. This is a freewill situation. It is not your position to tell. He will decide who requires knowing. And remember, we are not talking about a contagious disease or a virus. There is nothing exceptional that must be told.
Happy families love each other, do everything out of love, and accept each other because of love. You never know what you are capable of until you understand the true meaning of “love”, love learned through and within the family. So out of love, everyone will understand and if they don't, stepping in and explaining your position in due course is crucial.
Maintaining harmony and family ties in peace contributes to the mental health of all family members, especially your child.
Love begins with the spouses and grows in their children. A priest once told me: love your kids more when they don’t do what you expect. Love them with tough love. This means that loving is not contemplating or spoiling, it is quite the opposite. To love is to correct in a timely manner, to talk openly, to listen in detail, to understand ...
So, if your child confesses you to be gay, just remember this:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always promise, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8