So, your kid just told you they’re…
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.