Letting Go of Negativity and Celebrating Being the Mom of an LGBTQ+ Child with Susan Berland

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Meet today's guest:

Susan Berland

Parenting Coach Susan Berland is fiercely committed to guiding parents of LGBTQ youth back to a loving, accepting relationship when they are struggling to accept their child as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer or just struggling with their reaction to their child’s coming out. Susan guides parents and their kids to communicate effectively, trust one another and accept one another where and as they are. She helps parents overcome the guilt, fear or shame they may experience when they discover they have an LGBTQ child.

As I sat at home one evening sipping tea and surfing the television for something interesting to watch, my youngest (who was 19 at the time) came and handed me a large envelope. On it was written the words, "open and read".

Wondering at this mysterious way of dropping something off and then fleeing the room I reached inside. There I found a typewritten letter attached to a printed off PDF. As I scanned the letter my heart skipped a beat and I had to take a deep breath before continuing.

Your kid is a transboy…

The rest of the letter went on to explain, what this means in general; what it means to my child; what it means for me; and the logistics of how we might move forwards together.

At the very end it said pps: Also I'm bisexual…idk I don't feel like coming out twice

That line actually made me laugh despite the tear that ran down my face.

That was just over a year ago now and although it's taken a lot of work just to get the pronouns right, it was not nearly as 'bad' as I would have thought if someone had asked me what I would do should this ever happen to me.

One of the reasons for this was my own ability to recognize that coming out to me like this would not have been an easy thing to do – even with a parent who loves unconditionally. I knew immediately this was not just a phase, or something to be taken lightly. This was going to mean big changes in my life which I could either fight against and perhaps lose my child in the process or embrace fully and see how it rolls out.

Another thing that really helped was talking to people like Susan Berland who has taken it upon herself to help parents like me and it is my interview with her that I would like to share with you today on Vibrant, Powerful Moms.

Letting go of negativity and celebrating being the mom of an LGBTQ+ child

Susan's Story

When my son told me he was gay, Susan begins, it was 1989 and although I thought of myself as a liberal minded person who was supportive of my gay and lesbian friends, I balked at the news.

"At the time I strongly suspected he was gay and had kind of pushed that thought away because I didn't really want it to be true. Then I pushed that thought away too because I sensed it was wrong to think that way. So it really sent me into a tailspin. A lot of my reaction came from shame – not being ashamed of him, but ashamed of what I was feeling and how I was reacting."

Since then, Susan says she has met way too many people in the LGBTQ+ community who have been rejected by their parents when they came out. Her heart broke as she heard these stories and for a long time she really wanted to help these people. At some point she realized it really wasn't the LGBTQ+ kids that needed her help… it was their parents!

"Because I had been in that situation I was in a unique position to provide support and guidance to these parents who might still be reeling from finding out that their child is LGBTQ+."

In this episode of Vibrant, Powerful Moms, Susan and I talk about what it feels like to have a child come out and what you can do to make sure you get the support you need while still honouring the needs of your child. Susan talks about the fear, guilt, blame, shame as well as the conflict that can arise when it goes against deep seated beliefs like religion.

Listen to the interview and find out more. Even if your child is not LGBTQ+, it may help you support a friend, another family member, a colleague, neighbour or even a client.

Highlights Reel

"When your child tells you they are LGBTQ+ remember the love you felt for your child the first time you held them – connect to that feeling and allow that to guide the conversation that follows."

The most important thing when your child comes out is to let them know you love them no matter what – providing this is true! Here's an example:

"I love you…I will never stop loving you…there is nothing you can do that will make me stop loving you. I need some time to adjust to this new information and that's on me. I'm going to do some research and some processing and I'm going to be fine with this. I just need time. I love you."

 

Many parents struggle with the conflict between their religious beliefs and the information their child is sharing.

"I've heard so many Christian parents talk about how they prayed for God to change their child's heart and God changed their heart instead. In time you will begin to see that your child was born this way…and if God made them this way then how can it be wrong?"

If you suspect your child might be LGBTQ+, rather than ask them directly and perhaps put them in a position where they feel they must lie, show support for what is happening around you in regards to acceptance of people in this community. When you do this you create a safe environment for your child to talk to you if, and when, they are ready.

Finally, Susan shared the importance of finding the right support for you. Talking to a trusted friend, joining a non-judgmental and supportive group (like the private group Susan offers on Facebook) or using professional services are all options for those in need.  You do not need to go this alone and you will likely be pleasantly surprised at how much support is available.

Listen to the show for all the goods!

Resources:

Website: susanhopeberland.com

Private FB Group: Parents of LGBTQ Kids Support (send Susan a message and tell a little bit about your story. She is very careful about who she lets in to the group which is why it's such a safe environment).

Gift: 10 things to do when your son or daughter comes out. Link at top of page on website http://susanhopeberland.com/

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