In his blog post, Practical Tips for Lesbian and Gay Parents Raising Teenagers – Tony Madril, M.S.W., B.C.D. – shares his knowledge gained as a California clinical social worker and psychotherapist.
“Lesbian and gay parents can expect that their teens will face some challenging issues related to their entry into adolescence; they might also expect the possibility of their teens encountering the social stigmas often associated with children who are raised within non-traditional families. Therefore, setting a foundation of sound preparation, support and instruction can enable lesbian and gay parents to increase positive developmental outcomes for their adolescent sons and daughters.”
Adolescence is a time when your kids will start to understand their own sexuality. “Am I straight or gay?” Understanding themselves will help their journey into adulthood.
For the teen being raised by lesbian or gay parents, Tony reminds us this process may be complicated by a fear of discrimination brought about by social stigma. He recommends several things to parents who are worried about their child being teased about having “two mommies” or “two daddies”, such as:
- If possible, consider coming out to your children during their childhood or late adolescent years. Because younger adolescents are often preoccupied with issues of their own emerging sexuality, early and middle adolescence, (generally accepted as ages 10 – 16) may be a particularly difficult time for them to learn about the sexual orientations of their parents
- Let your teen know that you are aware of the possibility that, at times, she may feel uncomfortable with the idea of disclosing particular information about the family. Let her know that this is “okay,” and that you would welcome hearing about these instances should they arise. This may help to increase the likelihood that your teen will use you as a resource for dealing with a number of issues, including how to manage social stigma
- Set the ground rule that your teen has permission to talk to you about anything without fear of consequence, as long as the information is not used inappropriately; to punish or manipulate, for example
- As appropriate, include your teen in social settings in which your sexual orientation is affirmed by significant adults, straight and lesbian/gay alike. For example, you might introduce your teen to a straight colleague whom demonstrates strong support of lesbian and gay families. You could also invite your teen to have lunch with a group of your friends
- Create opportunities for your teen to have regular contact with other teenagers who are being raised by lesbian or gay parents, or whom live within other types of non-traditional families
Tony has over a decade of experience treating children and adolescents with an array of emotional and developmental disorders. His private practice offices are located in the cities of Los Angeles and West Hollywood where he specializes in working with LGBT families.
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