Keeping Your Child Healthy and Happy
Before you read anything else, you need to know about the real dangers gay teens/young adults face, including suicide, drug use, and diseases. You also need to understand how you can help protect your child from these serious risks.
Excellent research has identified the factors that lead to these dangerous behaviors (see the Resources below). The research also clearly shows that your attitudes and behaviors can effectively reduce all of these risks for your child.
The fact that YOU can protect your child is a serious responsibility. But all the tools you need are found within our Mormon beliefs. If you look at nothing else on this website, please review the information and suggestions in the first two resources listed below.
Your gay son or daughter has likely been trying to understand his/her feelings for a long time before you found out about them. And your child has probably been hearing negative comments about “those gay people” at school, at church, and maybe even in your home. Those comments, even if unknowing or unintentional, have probably already hurt your child. So now that you know more about your child, slow down. Don’t let your immediate reactions interfere with doing what is best for your child. Be supportive. Be patient. Listen. Most importantly, show love. You won’t have all the answers right away, but you can put your emotions aside and you can reassure your child that he or she will always be loved in your family.
From Bryce and Sara Cook, LDS parents of two gay sons from Mesa, Arizona:
“Finding out that your child is gay can be extremely difficult. We know because we have two sons who are gay. They are both returned missionaries and BYU grads (or soon to be in the case of one) – and we love them dearly.
As we have gotten to know and become friends with many gay men and women over the last year or so, we have seen that the gay people who have loving, supportive families are so much happier and more well-adjusted than those whose family members are unkind, judgmental or refuse to acknowledge the gay person’s feelings. Those whose families are able to talk about it without embarrassment or judgment and let them know that they love them unconditionally, and whose families support and trust them, have a much better outlook on life and in fact find it easier to feel comfortable in the Church and to abide by gospel principles. Those families who are openly uncomfortable, judgmental or dismissive of the gay family member tend to make them feel worthless, conflicted and hopeless. They begin to have the feeling of ‘what’s the use, I’m an awful person, I might as well do whatever because that’s what people expect.’ These feelings can lead to all sorts of unhealthy, risky behaviors – and even suicide.
We are grateful to be able to suggest this website to other parents who are trying to do their best for their LGBT child. How we wish something like this existed a few years ago when our oldest son told us he was gay and we were starting from scratch trying to find education, resources and support. This site has all the basic information an LDS parent needs as he or she begins the journey of learning how to love and support their gay child. We worked with the people who developed this website and contributed some of the content, and we think the information here represents an excellent selection of informed resources that you can use to get started as you learn how to help your LGBT child and hold your family together.”
Communicate Acceptance to Your Child
- Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Latter-day Saint Families with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Children (Caitlin Ryan, Ph.D. and Robert A. Rees, Ph.D., San Francisco State University, 2012). This excellent booklet describes the influence of acceptance or rejection by family on youth and young adults who are lesbian, gay, and bisexual. The research findings are powerfully reinforced by LDS scriptures, statements from Church leaders, and examples of youth who received the support they needed.
- Jim Smithson’s blog post “Protecting Our Gay/SSA Youth” and Affirmation’s handout Protecting our LGBT/SSA/Questioning Youth from Suicide and Other Risks. In Spring of 2013, several support groups for gay Mormons posted suggestions for reducing risks of suicide and other side effects for gay youth and young adults. The original blog post and handout can be found here. The handout can be printed on one sheet of paper (both sides) to be shared with family and friends. It includes seven suggestions for LDS families and leaders taken directly from the Apostles, the new Church website, and from official Church materials.
Some Important Points from the Church’s Official Site
- The Church website (mormonandgay.org) says, “Family members with same-sex attraction need our love and understanding. God loves all his children alike, much more than any of us can comprehend, and expects us to follow.”
- The website also says, “There is no change in the Church’s position of what is morally right. But what is changing—and what needs to change—is to help Church members respond sensitively and thoughtfully when they encounter same-sex attraction in their own families, among other Church members, or elsewhere.”
- With respect to same-sex attraction, Elder Oaks says, “There is so much we don’t understand.”
- Elder Christofferson cautions, “Initial reactions are critical…. [T]he temptation that people often have is anger or rejection.” He also said, “…[I]t’s important…to begin to talk and to begin to listen and to try to understand….We don’t have to resolve everything in a month or a week or a year.”
- Elder Cook reinforces this: “As a church nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in…expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let’s not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle…”