I am totally and completely OBSESSED with the house flipping/house make-over shows. Lucky for me there are SO MANY to choose from (smile). I watch any and all that I can find and I have HGTV and the DIY channel to feed my obsession. I love me a good before and after story. If I had the money, I would totally flip houses for a living.
Some of these folks are really brave because they buy the house sight unseen. Talk about taking a risk! And sometimes it really bites them in the butt. But for the most part, the hosts of the show buy a house knowing that it needs some TLC and they proceed to transform it into something stunning.
I was reflecting on this 10 year journey I’ve been on recently. I realized that in order to help parents new to the fact that they have a child that is LGBTQ I need to stay connected to parts of my journey that are painful. It would be easy to move on and leave those parts in the past, never to be thought of again, but in order to help someone who has just gotten the news I need to keep those parts somewhat close to my heart. I have found that sometimes people who don’t do this tend to be a little bit harsh when trying to help a new parent. For me personally, I find it helpful to remind myself that I didn’t get here overnight.
I’ve shared before some of the stages that parents can go through when they learn their child is LGBTQ…anger, denial, grief, etc. Sometimes when I talk with someone who is struggling with a parent coming to acceptance they shut down the conversation when I try to convey what their parent might be feeling. I think part of the reason why this happens is one of the things that a parent goes through which I’m sure is really hard for the child is….selfishness.
We really don’t mean it, and in most cases don’t even realize that we are being selfish. We have tons of processing to do. And unfortunately instead of processing within ourselves, it comes out sometimes. In most cases, our child has known this about themselves for years, but for us it’s brand new. And I would say the number one thing driving the selfishness is FEAR.
What are people going to think? Will they think it’s my fault? Will they think badly of our family? I’m worried my child is going to be discriminated against? I’m worried they will be hurt/bullied? Will I ever get to plan a wedding? Will I get to be a grandparent? Will they lose friends over this? Will I?
Me, me, me.
We had dreams of what we thought our child’s future would look like. Now that is all gone with this revelation. We really are concerned about our child, but it can come across that we are only thinking of ourselves and in some ways that’s true…at first. We ultimately know that we don’t have control over our children’s futures whether or not they are gay or straight, but knowing that doesn’t help at the time.
I can only imagine how completely frustrating this is for the person who has just come out to their parent. We parents also have a tendency to ask really stupid questions that we don’t understand are stupid at the time. Probably the most frequent one at the top of this list being: Are you sure this isn’t just a phase?
In cases where the parents may seem selfish or ask stupid questions, it just means they aren’t educated on the matter. Give them some time to get there. We are like the houses that look fine on the surface. But when you start taking a peek behind the walls or under the floor surfaces, you see that there are some areas that need tending to. Maybe it’s bad theology that has been taught to us. Or maybe it’s what we grew up hearing from our family or society in general. We need to find those places and start the process of making them more structurally sound.
Just like in the make-over shows, sometimes we have to completely demolish our old thinking and educate ourselves in order to rebuild things. We learn that sometimes we can’t keep something original to the house that we thought made it special. We learn that sometimes you have to let that go. In the midst of the mess, we wonder if we can survive the rebuild. Will the new layout work? Will it make sense? Just wait for the reveal!
Try to have patience with your parent. If possible, connect them to a parent that has stayed connected to the painful parts to help them. They will be able to share with them their before and after. They will be able to show them how their broken parts were rebuilt into something more beautiful than they could ever imagine. They will be able to share with them that love is love and that there can be weddings and grand-babies.
At the end of the process, they will have their very own before and after story. They will stand back in awe at how far they have come. They will be amazed at the transformation. They will tell you they just didn’t see it before, but it’s been there all along…they just needed to let go, provide a little TLC, and learn some things.
I realize that this isn’t the ending that everyone gets. There are some whose parents never get to the after part of the story. They get stuck in the before. I’m sorry. I wish there was a way to get every parent there. I am part of a private FB group of moms (mama bears) that are willing to step in and offer love and support for those who don’t have it. Reach out if you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have support. We mama bears have big hearts and lots of love to give.
Because love matters…