It’s dangerous, isn’t it; pointing out problems in the way someone else is raising their kids? If you’re anything like me, that’s a line you don’t cross. I’m fiercely protective of my family, and equally protective of the way I handle my own business. I’m not at all receptive to criticism on that front … but … what if someone is disowning their child for coming out as LGBTQ+?
I don’t want to offend, but won’t feel bad if I do. Part of being a progressive parent is confronting social stigmas and negative attitudes as they relate to parenting. If your child comes to you and says “I’m gay,” or “I’m trans,” or comes out as any other term associated with the LGBTQ+ community, what will your reaction be? Will you tell them you love them and ask them to explain what all this means so you can understand, or will you throw a fit and kick them out of your house?
When I came out as Queer, my parents did the former. They told me they loved me. They hugged me. They asked questions, and tried to reason through what I was telling them. I don’t think they truly understood, and maybe they still don’t, but they try. That’s what unconditional love looks like.
Some parents throw a fit. Coming out is a big deal for those of us who have to do it, and some of us get screamed at, thrown out, disowned, or worse. I have no qualms about saying this is what failed parenting looks like. There is no love in this reaction, no empathy, no concern for the well-being of your child. It is a reaction from fear and misinformation, and demonstrates a complete lack of desire to talk and learn about who your child is; as opposed to who you want them to be.
I have two children. If either comes out to me as LGBTQ+, my reaction will be simple: unconditional love and acceptance. But it’s not enough for me to just say “I love you.” It’s my job, as a progressive Dad, to accept their identity. If I’m not familiar with the terms they use, it’s my job to ask. It’s up to me to make sure that I understand, to the best of my ability, who they are and what that means. Any less from me is unacceptable.
So today, since so many parents are still failing in this regard, I just wanted to say it. If you say you love your kids, and if one or more of those kids happens to have a gender identity or sexual orientation different from your own, prove that what you say is true. Be a good parent, and show them love and acceptance. We all fail and falter in life, but failing as a parent is a big deal. Raising our future is the single most important job we have. Let’s be there when our children need us the most. 🙂