Tips for Mamas
So, your kid just told you they’re…... (something)....
It’s every parent’s nightmare. Our kid tells us something we weren’t expecting, we blurt out a response we immediately regret and it’s too late to take it back. So now, before that inevitable surprise announcement, here is the parenting plan for when you hear, “Mom, Dad, I’m…” Where … might be pregnant, sporting a new tattoo, transgender, failing four classes, gay, becoming wiccan, HIV+, or taking up the tuba.
Step 1 Say, “thank you for telling me.” Because, honestly, wouldn’t you rather know? Your child just trusted you enough to tell you something difficult, and you want to reward this behavior.
Step 2 Say, “I love you.” Because you do, and it never hurts to remind your kid, and yourself, that your love has endured through sleepless nights and dirty diapers, and it will endure through whatever announcement just took you by surprise. Ideally the “I love you” is followed by a hug.
Step 3 Admit you don’t know everything already, and want to learn more, so you can be a help and support.
• “Tell me more about that.”
• “You’ve probably already been reading a lot about this, can you recommend some basic resources to get me started?”
• “Have you already found a good tuba instructor?”
An expressed willingness to learn invites the conversation to continue and buys you time to be a rational parent rather than a reactionary parent. So there it is: thank, love, and learn. Parenting—we can do this.
-- From the genius mother, Neca Allgood
Alliship can be tricky and figuring out the "right" way is sometimes knowing there isn't just one right way. Just like being a great friend each relationship is unique and takes active listening and asking good questions. When our LGBTQ child or community is in crisis or trauma the way we communicate and process is part of the key of being a good supporter.
Here is a quick way to help navigate and process crisis. Drawing a target like the one depicted below place the name of the person who is in trauma in the center. In the next bigger ring write the persons name that is closest to them. Then in the next bigger circles write the next closest like her family then her close friends. Follow this pattern of intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. This process is called the Kvetching Order.
Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say pretty much anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, "Life is unfair" and "Why me?" Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings. The people in the larger rings can offer only comfort towards the inner circles.
Keeping the comfort in and dumping out was a valuable lesson on how I could be a better ally and LGBTQ parent.
5 Ways to be a LGBTQ Ally
1. Be honest: It’s important to be honest with yourself — acknowledging you aren't an expert, asking them what's important to them, seeking resources to better understand the realities of being an LGBTQ individual so that you can be truly informed and supportive.
2. Send gentle signals: Showing and sharing your acceptance and support can be very easy. Many people often don’t realize that LGBTQ people keep watch for signs from their friends, family and acquaintances about whether it is safe to be open with them. It can be as subtle as having an LGBTQ-themed book on your coffee table.
3. Have courage: Just as it takes courage for LGBTQ people to be open and honest about who they are, it also takes courage to support your LGBTQ friends or loved ones. We live in a society where prejudice still exists and where discrimination is still far too common. Recognizing these facts and giving your support to that person will take your relationship to a higher level and is a small step toward a better and more accepting world.
4. Be reassuring: Explain to a someone who came out to you that their sexual orientation or gender identity has not changed how you feel about them, but it might take a little while for you to digest what they have told you. You still care for and respect them as much as you ever have or more. And that you want to do right by them and that you welcome them telling you if anything you say or do is upsetting.
5. Let your support inform your decisions: It’s about working to develop a true understanding of what it means to be LGBTQ in America and trying to do your part to help break down the walls of prejudice and discrimination that still exist — for example, by supporting businesses with appropriate anti-discrimination policies, saying you don’t appreciate “humor” that demeans LGBTQ people when it happens or learning about where political candidates stand on issues that have an impact on the LGBT community.
Borrowed from the Human Rights Campain
For many allies, familiarity with lesbian, gay, and bisexual people and the issues that they face increasingly common. And yet, when we discuss inclusion of our transgender friends, that level of familiarity is very different. Continuing your ally journey to become an educated, out, and proud trans ally takes specific resources and support…and this is where you can start.
The following are tips that can be used as you move toward becoming a better ally to transgender people. Of course, this list is not exhaustive and cannot include all the "right" things to do or say - because often there is no one "right" answer to every situation you might encounter.