Our job as parents is to love our children. LOVE them. Unconditionally.
But the sad reality is, that for some parents loving “no matter what” doesn’t include accepting a child who is part of the LGBTQ community.
So many kids grow up hearing the message that this lifestyle is wrong. And while the world is slowly trying to change this narrative, it needs to start at home.
In a powerful open letter to parents everywhere, Shannon Knudsen Allred, who works with the Pride Club at her local college, urges parents to stop saying negative things about the LGBTQ community.
Because unbeknownst to you, by doing so, you may be hurting one of the people you love the most.
She posted the letter on her Facebook page & starts it off with:
I met your child today. Second year of college, back in the dorms ready for a new year.”
Shannon explains that she had just completed a student training session when a student asked if she could speak to her privately.
The student opened up to Shannon that some of what she had talked about had “hit a little too close to home.”
“She then looked up at me with tears in her eyes and shared that she is part of the LGBTQ community.”
She tearfully confided in Shannon that she hadn’t told her parents because she knew they wouldn’t be happy with her. She feared that they would “cut her off financially, making it impossible for her to finish college.”
But most of all she was scared that they wouldn’t “be proud of her anymore” if she told them she was queer.
And my mama’s heart is breaking for this girl.
No child should ever have to know this kind of fear.
Shannon asked what made her think her parents would react this way and her response is one that I’m guessing thousands of other LGBTQ kids would give.
“She told me that when there’s a movie with a gay character you complain about it, and that you don’t think libraries should have any books with LGBTQ characters, because that will make kids think it’s okay to be gay.
“Don’t my parents realize they are telling me it’s NOT okay to be me? Don’t they see how much that hurts?””
Our kids ARE listening.
But more importantly, our kids are watching too. They see our actions. And actions? Can often speak so much louder than any words.
“As much as those things hurt her, she said the hardest thing of all is that she just realized she has a gay family member, but you never talk about him. And when you do, you make up reasons why he isn’t at family parties or lie about who the other man is in the Facebook photos.
She sees how embarrassed you are of him, and doesn’t want that to become her story.”
Think of your own children. If this isn’t enough to make you pause and take stock of the messages you’re sending to your kids, I don’t know what will.
Imagine for a moment how it must feel to not be free to live your truth, to not be able to trust your whole person with the people whose opinions matter the most.
Because this is exactly how this girl describes it.
She desperately wants to be close to her parents, to stop the charade, to be HERSELF. But she can’t. Because her parents’ actions have alienated her, and they have no idea.
“I’m begging you – stop saying negative things about the LGBTQ community. It won’t make your closeted daughter straight.”
She goes on to say:
“Stop pretending that the LGBTQ community is “the world” that we must keep away from our children. These. Are. Our. Children. This is YOUR daughter. And she’s in pain. And she needs you right now.”
She needs your UNCONDITIONAL love. Not your judgment. Or condemnation. Or ridicule.
What makes this even more heartbreaking is that this girl is not alone.
Shannon reveals that this conversation is far from unique & that she has it multiple times every semester.
So she urges parents to check themselves.
“Please don’t assume it can’t be your child or that if you just teach the gospel enough that it won’t be your child. It’s very possible it is your child.
If it’s not your child, it’s your niece, or perhaps your child’s best friend who you adore.”
Shannon ends her post by telling parents that she knows this isn’t easy. That she understands that this may not be the life they envisioned for their child.
However, don’t let your words and your deeds build a wall that can never be torn down.
“Make sure she knows that as her parent, your love knows no bounds.
Make sure to create a space in your home and in your heart so that when she’s ready, she can enrich your life by being unequivocally, unashamedly her.
I promise it will be the greatest blessing in your life.”
Loving our kids – no matter what – is the greatest gift we can give them. But not just them, ourselves as well.
The messages we send our kids matter.
The Mama Dragons organization shared a graphic with some sobering statistics. In this graphic it shares that a large percentage of LGBTQ youth who are out to their parents still hear them speak negatively about the LGBTQ community.
But, one survey found that even more LGBTQ youth – 78% to be exact – who are NOT out to their parents hear negative comments being made about the LGBTQ community.
It’s simply a good reminder that our words matter, and our kids are listening.
We may not see it now, but we will someday.
And when that someday comes, we better hope that those messages did everything to make our kids know that they are worthy of our love and acceptance and that we are in turn, worthy of theirs.
You can read the full post here: