From the time you are born until the age of about 13, your parents applaud everything you do. They put every macaroni masterpiece you make in preschool on the fridge, they frame every poem you write in elementary school, and they come to every school play in the 6th grade, even if you only have one line. But around the time you start “creating yourself” some parents stop supporting your accomplishments. For example, if you are a boy and a freshman in high school, your dad expects you to try out for the football team.
But if you throw him a curve ball and decide to take chorus and audition for the school play instead, there is a chance he won’t come to every concert and show, like he would come to every game. It is the same if you are a girl and you don't want to wear a dress to your prom, there is a possibility your mom won’t want to go bow tie shopping with you. Don't get me wrong, some moms and dads will still support their children no matter what, but I am writing this for the parents that don’t. I’m writing this for the parents that wish their children were different, for the parents who don't believe in what their children believe, and for the parents who don't love who their children love.
Often times you hear horror stories about kids coming out to their parents. Some are neglected and kicked out, some are sent to military schools or religious camps, some are grounded, and some families act as if their child isn't even a part of their family anymore. All because of who they are choosing to love. Well, lucky for me, my family was different. When I told my mom and dad I had a girlfriend, they were so happy for me. They supported me and welcomed my girlfriend. They told me they loved me no matter what and that they were happy as long as I was happy. I didn't have to pretend to be someone I wasn't because my mom and dad loved me just the way I was.
I have never been a parent. So I am not sure how it feels to bring another human into this world. But based on all the books and movies and parents I have seen, it is the greatest thing. Parents love their children more than they love themselves. They would do anything for them. They are not happy unless their child is happy. I am not even a parent and I think it is one of the best things you can do in your life. I thought that was how every mother and father felt. That is until they start making you feel bad for who you are.
My best friend went through the same exact thing that I did. However, her parents have not come around like mine have. Her parents don’t refer to her girlfriend as her girlfriend. They make her feel bad for the way she dresses. They are not letting her tell other family members that she is gay. Her parents repeatedly tell her how they wish she wasn't the way she is, how they don’t approve of the way she is living her life, and how they will never accept her.
She has never felt supported by her parents and if you've never experienced that, I can promise you it is a really crappy feeling. You think bullies at school are bad, imagine having the bullies in your own home. I’ve seen her battle depression and self-harm because she’s not receiving the love and support she needs from her family. The people who were once her number one fans hate the way she’s living her life.
As heartbreaking as my best friend’s story is, it could be much worse. When I was a senior in high school, I was the president of my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance club. This was a club for all grades that was a safe place for LGBT+ students and their allies to get support, share their stories, talk about current issues, and get involved in the LGBT+ community.
There were members of that club who had been kicked out of their house and were living with friends or family members. Kids who weren’t even old enough to drive had to find another place to live and different caregivers because their parents didn’t want them if they were LGBT+. Some of the members were at some point or still are dealing with suicidal thoughts. They would rather take their own life that deals with the fact that their parents didn’t love or accept them.
Not loving your child can and will do tremendous damage to them. They will begin to feel worthless. If the two people who loved them the most become the people who don't love them at all, they will question if anyone could love them. Their self-hate will rise and their happiness will plummet. And it is hard because being a child, you thought your happiness was your parent's first priority, but now you feel as if your parents could care less if you're happy or not. How does it feel to know that you’ve ruined your child’s outlook on life? To know that your child has begun to hate themselves because you’ve rejected them? To know that you're responsible for taking away your child’s positivity?
So how can parents go from being willing to run across the world for their child, to not accepting them at all? Why is the change of sexual orientation enough to make your love for the person you brought into this world lessen? I know I have never given birth to someone but I think you should love your child no matter what, you should be happy for your child if they are happy, and you should support your child in all of the life decisions they make. They did nothing wrong and they need your acceptance, support, and love.
Love your children. Support your children. Accept your children. Love your children no matter who they love. Support them even if they become someone you didn't expect they would, even if they follow a different life path than you want them to, and even if they disappoint you.
Accept your children because even if they don't say it, your acceptance is the only one that matters to them. Love them because it is the first thing listed in your job description as parents. Love them because they deserve to be loved by you. Love your children because your love is the only real love they have ever known and you cannot just take that away. Love your children because they love you and love them no matter what.