Holly Willard was featured on KSL about the importance of unconditional love and understanding when a family member comes out of the closet. The issue is very emotional and difficult so here are some tips when a family member discloses their homosexuality to you:
1. Let them know that you love them. They need your acceptance and unconditional love. They have felt alone and rejected for a long time. Saying you love them defuses the fear and provides healing.
2. Tell them they belong and will always be a part of your family. The decision to come out of the closet takes a lot of courage because of the many horror stories of families who disown their children. They need to know that they are yours and will always be. They need to know they belong.
3. Don’t Lecture. They are probably aware of your religious beliefs/values. Most likely they have done a lot of research on the topic because they are trying to reconcile their beliefs and feelings.
4. Recognize that they have come out to you because they care about your relationship. When someone comes out of the closet, they are asking, ” Can you see me for who I am and accept that.” They are being open and honest. The emotional message that they are trying to convey is that they want to be closer to you.
5. Find a safe and supportive place to explore your feelings. Acceptance is a process, be patient with yourself. Find someone you can talk to i.e. support group, friend, or therapist. The process can be especially difficult when your child discloses. Most parents grieve who they thought their child was or what they wanted for their future. Parents want to protect their child and they might be scared of the societal challenges their child may face. It is usually not helpful to talk through these issues with the person because they may see it as rejection or you wanting to change them.
6. Have an open dialogue about what they want for their future. Keep the door open to continue the conversation so you can discuss their goals and how you can support them.
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