Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother's Role in Supporting Gay Youth Is Vital!

Tomorrow is Mother's Day.  With all the joys and frustrations of motherhood, don't you sometimes feel as if we mothers should receive a Congressional Medal of Honor?  But I'll compromise with flowers, a card, and a good breakfast.

While unconditional love from both parents is important for a gay child to thrive, it was my experience interviewing straight parents of gay youth for my book When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know (Sterling, June 2016; ISBN: 13-978-14549-1936-0) that most gay sons came out to their mothers first within the family and told them to keep the secret from the rest of the family until told to do so otherwise.  As my co-author Jonathan Tobkes, M.D., explains: " I have found that in my cases, the same-sex parent has a harder time accepting and internalizing the concept, and is, therefore, more likely to turn to denial (for example) when faced with the notion of having a gay child."

Family Acceptance

The Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State that researches the effects of parental rejection of LGBT youth.  Its findings, spearheaded by Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D., ACSW, points to the dire effects (and offers steps to remedy): low self-esteem, truancy, promiscuous behavior, drug abuse, depression, and sometimes suicide.

Parents can counter this potential negativity with hugs and supporting words such as 'I love you and will support you.  I'm glad you revealed such an important facet of yourself.'

Isn't this what we all want from our mothers and not just on Mother's Day?