LGBTQ Parenting: What You Need to Know
Being a parent is already tough at times, but for LGBTQ parents, there are unique challenges. For one thing, there are many people who believe that there is something wrong with a same-sex couple or someone who identifies themselves on the LGBTQ spectrum raising children. This adds extra stress to your already busy schedule of shuffling kids from different activities and making certain they aren’t putting foreign inedible objects in their mouths.
Acknowledge Your Family is a Bit Different
The love and support you provide for your child is no different from a traditional family’s, but your child will notice at some point they may be a little different from their peers. At an appropriate time, perhaps when your child asks why other kids have a mom and dad, explain to your child all families are different and that’s perfectly okay.
Be Willing to Listen to Your Child About Their Feelings
As an extension to the former point, your child may feel alienated because they’re different. Allow them to vent and be receptive to their concerns. This applies to all parents, but LGBTQ parents may need to set aside space specifically for unique frustrations and understand it’s not a personal attack on you or your partner. Children from same-sex families tend to grow up and realize that they had a childhood as typical as a child from a heterosexual family.
Be an Example of Tolerance
There’s no guarantee everyone you or your child meets will be tolerant of others’ differences, but you can be an active example of respecting others. Watch and make sure your own biases are kept to yourself or better yet, overcome them. Sometimes we all slip up, but that’s the perfect opportunity to teach your children about why it’s wrong. Explain to your children it isn’t okay to not like someone because of skin color, sexual orientation, or other things a person cannot help or change.
Find Other LGBTQ Parents for Support and Empathy
You may have other friends who are parents, but it is also important to connect with other LGBTQ parents. This might be more difficult in smaller communities where you wouldn’t typically see another same-sex couple with children. Luckily, the Internet is a great resource to find other parents and message boards who share your struggles. They can also answer LGBTQ-specific questions from a “been-there” perspective.
Understand That Many Aspects of Parenting Are Universal
There’s no “LGBTQ way” of parenting, really. There are a few things that make being an LGBTQ parent unique and challenging, but overall, a parent is a parent. Taking care of an infant, toddler, preteen, or adolescent is challenging but rewarding to many. Hearing a child’s first words, seeing their first steps, witnessing their first day of school, and every moment all the way up until seeing your grown child go off to college will evoke the same feelings as any other parent. But there’s one thing every parent needs to give their child, and that’s love and support.