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Programs - Sex Education Series (III) When your child comes out to you...

When your child tells you his/her homosexual orientation, you might be overwhelmed by mixed feelings and emotions, such as concern, anger, embarrassment, or depression. Research indicates that parents react differently to the disclosure of their children's homosexuality. Your feelings may change as time goes by, but all your feelings and reactions are natural and normal. You may experience:

SHOCK

If you were completely unaware of your child's homosexuality, you may feel shocked or confused when he/she comes out to you.

DENIAL

You may also find it hard to believe that your child is homosexual. You may hope that homosexuality can be "cured" like a disease, or that it is just a "phase" or a "stage". During this period of time, you may search for all kinds of information that will support your belief. Some parents keep silent about the subject, hoping that time will change the reality of their children's homosexuality.

ISOLATION

You may feel isolated and helpless because you fear the potential rejection of your own family and friends, and you dare not tell them the truth or share your feelings with them. In the meantime, you may want to know more about homosexuality, but have no idea where to obtain this information.

ANGER

You may feel angry for three reasons. First, you may blame your child's peers, teachers, schools, or even society for having a bad influence on him/her. Second, you may be angry at your child, perhaps because of the shame that homosexuality can bring to your family. Finally, you may blame yourself for not having taken appropriate action to prevent your child from becoming gay or lesbian.

BARGAINING

You may try to resolve the problem by bargaining with your child. You might cut off their allowance or refuse to speak with them in order to get them to change. You might also force your child to see professionals such as social workers or psychologists in order to change him or her.

WORRY

You may feel worried for a variety of reasons. Having assumed that homosexuals cannot have children, you may worry that your child will be very lonely and miserable at old age. You may also grieve the loss of potential grandchildren.

You may feel sad for your child, thinking that because of his/her homosexuality, your child may be unable to lead a happy life. Having recognized the difficulties posed by being a member of a stigmatized group, you may worry that your child will be rejected and mistreated by society. You may also worry that your child will become "abnormal", a word that is often used by society to describe homosexuals. You may be concerned that your child will make friends with other homosexuals who will be bad influences. You might also have concerns about AIDS or HIV.

Moreover, you may be disturbed by the idea that you will have to tell your family and friends about your child's sexual orientation. If you hide the truth, you fear that you may be unable to keep the secret. You might also worry about whether or not you can convert your child from homosexuality. If your religious beliefs are anti-gay, then finding out that your child is homosexual is even more difficult. These worries can overwhelm you, making you upset or even depressed.

ACCEPTANCE

You may be willing to accept your child for four reasons:

  1. Because of your unconditional love for him/her;
  2. Because you are gay positive;
  3. Because you fear that you may lose your child by not accepting him/her;
  4. Because after reading accurate information about homosexuality and /or seeking help from professionals, you start to develop a positive view of homosexuality.

THE IMPACT OF YOUR REACTION

Your reaction will have a direct impact on your child. Given that when a child comes out to his/her parents, he/she is usually very anxious. A positive response that conveys unconditional love will ease the child's anxiety, and will help the child to develop self-esteem and a positive attitude towards life. On the other hand, a negative response will only increase a child's sense of isolation, and may have other negative emotional consequences. Some children may turn to alcohol or drug use in an attempt to avoid an unaccepting environment. Some may even commit suicide.

For information or counselling services, please contact us at (416) 979-8299.

All your information is confidential.

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