Thursday, December 15, 2016

Coming Out: Don’t Spring It On Your Relatives During Holidays


Chances are you may see your relatives on few occasions: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and possibly a milestone birthday.  You don’t want to upset the tone of the holidays by injecting a life-altering announcement that will either elicit a million questions or silence your guests who are unprepared for such news.
You don’t want to usurp and undermine the holiday with your coming out news or embarrass your relatives who thought your boyfriend was just a “friend” in the past. For both straight parents and LGBT children, you should come out on your own timetable when you can focus on each other, not when you are busy delumping the gravy, carving the turkey, opening gifts, answering phone calls, and tending to possibly small children. Most holiday traditions do not including coming out.
So when is a good time to come out? 
·      When the teller and the news recipient aren’t distracted.
·      When the announcement allows time for conversation afterwards.
·      When the parent and child are relaxed.
·      When it is a private conversation.
What Do You Gain By Telling?
Before coming out, an LGBT child should weigh the pros and cons. Before sharing the news, it’s helpful to review questions that you think your parents or loved one will bombard you with and prepare your responses.  Of course, you don’t owe answers to anyone.  Your parents may hug you and express unconditional love and support.
Or, they also could reject you, particularly if their religion forbids same-sex love. If you think you could be banished from your house, I wouldn’t tell them until you are financially independent. As most coming outs do not go well, they may try to guilt trip you or change your mind. Take this into consideration.
A straight parent should first obtain permission of his LGBT child before he divulges the information to relatives and friends.  It’s the child’s story.  Who in the family is homophobic? Who should know? Your child may want to be the messenger.
Your Child Came Out Already And You Handled It Badly.  Now, What?
If your child has already come out and you reacted badly, there are ways to ameliorate the tension between you.  The Family Acceptance Project gives guidance to parents who have common issues that prevent them from loving their child unconditionally.
In our book When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need to Know ( Sterling, 2016) within The Doctor Is In section written by co-author Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D., there are suggestions for improving the dialogue between you and your child so you both can understand your expectations that you now have to alter.