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How to Accept Your Lesbian Daughter

by Tiffany Raiford

Ideally, your opinion of your daughter and your ability to accept her won’t change a bit if she announces to you that she's a lesbian. However, it’s not always easy for parents to cope when a child says, “Hey, mom. I’m gay.” Regardless of the myriad of emotions that you might feel at the announcement, your role as a parent is to remember that it probably wasn’t any easier for your daughter to say those words than it is for you to hear them. Acceptance may or may not happen right away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to accept her lifestyle.

Learn all you can about the gay and lesbian community, advises Lisa Maurer, M.S., C.L.F.E., A.C.S.E. and coordinator for the Center for LGBT Education, Outreach and Services at Ithaca College. It might help you feel more accepting of your daughter if you know what to expect as far as what stereotypes are typically associated with lesbians and the appropriate way to address her sexuality.

Find support in a group for parents of gay or lesbian children, your best friend, your spouse or anyone you feel comfortable talking to, advises Michael LaSala, an author and associate professor at Rutgers University. It often takes the opinion of an outsider to help you learn to accept your daughter’s choices. For example, as you discuss your concerns and hesitation to accept your daughter’s sexuality, the people you trust might help you put things into perspective by reminding you that she is still the same girl she has always been.

Listen to, and communicate with, your daughter. Part of learning to accept her lesbian lifestyle is opening the doors of communication and allowing yourself to really hear what she has to say. Listen to her concerns and voice your own. Take the time to hear her, which could help you to understand her. Being there for her and reminding yourself that she's still your daughter -- and that she has feelings and concerns -- might help you more readily accept her.

Remember your daughter's life isn't just about being a lesbian. Just because she came out to you about her sexuality doesn’t mean that she’s just your lesbian daughter. For example, if she’s an avid reader, a great cheerleader or gift student, being gay doesn’t change any of that. You both still have a life outside her sexuality -- and that means getting on with it in an effort to accept her lifestyle.

Give yourself time to accept her sexuality. Your daughter might expect that it will take you a little time to come to terms with this new information, but letting her know that you need some time to process and absorb it might make her feel less stressed. It might also help her feel like she did the right thing in trusting you with a secret she’s probably been keeping for a while.

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