The teenage years seem to be the most challenging time in a child’s growth. It is accompanied by high rates of depression, suicide, and anxiety. The case is worse for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning teens. They experience stigmatization, mental defects, and self-esteem problems like their heterosexual colleagues, if not more.
However, parents who are considerate of their LGBTQ+ teens can build self-esteem and better mental well-being for their children. LGBTQ+ teens require home acceptance from their parents to build and promote their self-esteem and overall health. This article will focus on ways parents can ensure the development of their LGBTQ+ teens’ self-esteem.
Have a Free Conversation with Your Teen to Build Self-Esteem
Most of the time, teens’ challenges can be handled through talking. However, this is sometimes hard as most teens never open up about their challenges, and parents assume their children can handle them independently. Being a parent, it is worth noting that these teens want you to know what they are going through though they do not admit them to anyone.
You can use indirect ways while conversing with your LGBTQ+ teen to ensure they share their challenges. Ask them friendly, open-ended questions to see if they are ready to participate in the conversation. You can also let them watch TV shows with characters who encouraging sharing their problems as teens.
When they start opening up, make them build trust with you by ensuring you don’t criticize or judge them. You should also not try to advise or question them while conversing unless they ask.
Ensure they Engage in a Healthy Relationship
As children grow, they start developing an interest in other girls and boys their age. However, this is discouraged by most parents, especially those of LGBTQ+ teens. Note that this is part of your teen’s growth and is a normal development stage for all teenagers. Being a parent, ensure you are connected and involved in this stage to ensure a healthy relationship for your teen. You can encourage them to date the right person considering things like age. LGBTQ+ teens should engage in healthy relationships like their heterosexual peers without being victimized.
Educate Yourself to Understand them Better
As an LGBTQ+ teen parent, you should educate on the experiences that your LGBTQ+ teen is going through. Try to educate yourself for your kid to feel considered. Find resources to educate you on this and join various support groups with the same motive.
Through this, you will understand most of your teen’s challenges. Engage yourself with other parents of LGBTQ teens and learn how their teens are doing. Learn to accept and love your LGBTQ+ teen the way they are to boost their self-esteem.
Some of the resources you may use to parent your kid at this stage include:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway, which is designed for LGBTQ+
- The Trevor Project is intended for family, friends, and parents of LGBTQ youth
Protect Your Teen from Bullies to Boost their Self-Esteem
LGBTQ+ teens suffer bullying and discrimination from their colleagues because they are viewed as different and incapable of defending themselves hence becoming the target of others. This can damage your kid’s mental health while lowering their esteem. It puts your kid at risk of depression, risky behaviors, and sometimes suicidal thoughts. You should be keen to notice such signs and defend your kid.
Most of these cases are found in schools where your child schools. When you notice such signs, alert the school guidance counselor or any teacher who can help defend your kid.
The following are some of the signs that may make you notice your child is facing bully:
- Declining performance
- Frequent absenteeism in school
- Change in behavior both at school and home
- Engagement in drug use and sexual immoralities
Follow Up on Them in School
Children spend their time both at home and school. Ensuring they are safe at home isn’t enough, as they may face many challenges at school. You can do the following to ensure comfort at school too:
- Contact frequently with teachers. Maintain a good relationship with the teachers. Ensure you contact them frequently to know the progress of your child. This way, you’ll be updated easily in case of any issues.
- Propose for gay-straight alliance (GSA). It has proved to be a better way to empower LGBTQ+ students by enabling them to boost their performance and making the school conducive for all.
- Advocate for sex education. Many states do not provide gender-inclusive sex education to LGBTQ+ students. It is important information that should not be discouraged in schools. As a parent, you may advocate this in your teen’s school to pass this knowledge to the children.
Listening to What Your Kid is Saying is Good for their Self-Esteem
Most of the time, parents feel they should not hold a discussion with their children on sexual topics. They argue that the topic requires qualified personnel. It is the same for parents of LGBTQ+ teens who may never hold gender and sexual identity topics with their teens.
This can affect the esteem of your kid as they have questions about their gender and sexual identity. Parents should note that these topics do not require any expertise to be valuable to their children. No special training is needed to know what your child is experiencing.
Allow your child to express themselves to you while paying full attention to what they say. Listen to them without judging, knowing that the experiences your child is talking about are important and real. Be keen to know the emotional experience your child is going through to determine the kind of help they need.
Helping Your Teen Build Self-Esteem – Final Thoughts
Self-esteem is a necessity for any person, including LGBTQ+ teens. Parents of these children should remember that they depend on them to know their worth as they suffer a lot of discrimination from others. Parents, teachers, colleagues, and everyone must help build LGBTQ+ teens’ self-esteem to ensure their growth. We hope the above tips will help parents build and improve LGBTQ+ teens’ self-esteem.