The coming out process for a GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) adolescent can be a challenging moment for not only the teenager, but also their family and friends. It is a time of high emotions that can run the gamut from confusion, shock, disbelief, rejection, and anger, to acceptance, calmness, understanding, and concern. It is important at this potentially fragile time for parents and teens to be kind to each other and create room for this new information and identity to be processed.

Adolescence is a time when feelings and thoughts of sexuality become intense and confusing. For many gay teens, feeling different from their friends creates a pressure to fit in and keep their sexual orientation secret. They can fear rejection, discrimination and even violence. It is important to create a space of safety and acceptance for them to better understand their feelings.

The process of coming out usually starts with the sharing of feelings with a close friend or family member. Although coming out is a normal step in the development of a gay or lesbian adolescent, many different issues can come to the forefront for your child including:

• Questioning their sexual identity. Am I gay, lesbian, or bisexual?
• Who can I trust in this process?
• Will my family and friends accept this new information?
• Am I ready to be sexually active?
• Will I be safe sharing this information with others?

With all of these questions and others filling a gay teen’s thoughts, it may be challenging to come out in a well thought out and structured manner. The coming out conversation may be a reaction to other issues or may be presented in a confrontational manner.

As parents it is important to create a supportive environment for your gay or lesbian teen to speak about what’s going on with them. It is just as hard for them to share this new identity with you as they are still often questioning their own perspectives. When your teenager shares that they are gay, lesbian, or bisexual:

• Try to stay calm. This is probably a moment of shock for all of you. Leave space for it to sink in without having to react immediately.
• Let them know that you understand how hard this conversation is for them.
• Don’t expect them to have all the answers about what it means to be gay for them.
• Know that your own personal beliefs may be challenged in this moment but it is still the same child whom you love sitting across from you.
• Consider family therapy or individual therapy with a qualified counselor who works with gay teens and their families during the coming out process.
• If you have questions about their sexuality, educate yourself. The Internet is a great source of information on the subject. There are also many books available on the subject. Most cities also have a local chapter of PFLAG (Parents & Friends of Lesbians And Gays), which offers a variety of resources and information.

A challenge for parents in being available for their gay teens coming out process is being able to express and address their own fears, concerns, and emotional experience. Parents have often projected a future dream of weddings, grandchildren and traditional development for their child. Realizing that this dream may not come about in the manner they anticipated can shake parents up and bring many questions to the forefront.

Parents may need help for themselves while going through the coming out process with their gay or lesbian teenager. Working with a therapist who specializes in assisting gay teens and their families can be of benefit in relieving parent’s fears and stress. Therapy also provides a forum for parents to ask questions and gather information, while easing their emotional distress.

One of the biggest concerns of any teen in the process of coming out is whether their parents will accept them for who they are. Listen to their feelings as they share this new part of themselves. Although it may feel uncomfortable for all of you at first, an acceptance of their newly shared identity can develop over time creating a stronger family and a more open relationship based on truth and understanding.

John Sovec is a therapist in Pasadena California who specializes in working with teen anxiety, adolescent depression, school performance issues, and the coming out process for GLBT teens. John is a highly respected speaker in the educational, corporate, and non-profit arenas who motivates his audience to discover their own strengths and experience their life. To Learn More Visit http://www.JohnSovec.com

Inside the Gray: Finding Black & White Answers for Parenting Teens

Inside the Gray: Finding Black & White Answers for Parenting Teens

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Is parenting teens a sport or a responsibility? According to ABC News, Tommy Jordan is getting quite a bit of recognition for his parenting teens skills by shooting bullets through his defiant daughter’s laptop. If he was looking for spectators for this new game he invented, he has clearly been successful with 246,000 likes on YouTube. What a great sport!

Parenting Teens: Are we Missing the Point?

What’s missing for me in all the sensationalism is the potential long-term effects of the bridge this father successfully built in his daughter’s brain while playing with guns. In one 8-minute video, he set a memory in concrete. This is a memory that is not likely going away and less likely to be the endearing story told around this family’s Thanksgiving dinner table in the years ahead.

Though I completely understand the frustration caused by a troubled teen and the stress it can create in a home, when parenting teens, our response is still our responsibility. It is our job to recognize when we need help parenting teens; unloading six bullets into a laptop is a pretty clear neon sign, “Help!”

Parenting Teens: Understanding the Teen Brain

Here is what we know to be true; the teen brain is not fully developed. There is a gap. They are not defective; they are just incomplete. It is our responsibility while parenting teens to bridge that gap with the tools our kids need to navigate life and become healthy adults. Building a safe, functional and secure bridge in the teen brain takes work. If we don’t have the tools, skill or knowledge, doesn’t it make sense to hire someone who does?

Parenting Teens: An Analogy

I once owned a home in Michigan where we had to cross a bridge in order to get safely across a dam to access our property. When we moved in, we had the bridge inspected and found the structure to be unsafe to cross. It was condemned due to neglect. Now, I admit, I am pretty handy but I know that building a bridge for a two-ton vehicle to traverse is out of my realm of expertise. So, I had three options:

1.  I could ignore the condition of the bridge and hope it would “turn out just fine with age.”

2.  I could get out my nail gun and radial arm saw and foolishly attempt to build the bridge myself.

3.  Or, I could admit that I needed help and hire a professional to complete the job.


Who in their right mind would trust the first two options?! Both are a guarantee for disaster. The only smart and safe choice would be to recognize the magnitude of the problem and enlist a qualified, licensed professional to do the work. Someone with a skill set I could not learn overnight (or even in 3 years for that matter!)


We got four estimates and chose a company that had our best interests in mind that we knew we could trust. The job lasted almost three months and cost 175k. I stood by the fence daily, fascinated, as destruction became construction. I grew to appreciate the engineering degree that I didn’t have, which was clearly required to achieve the desired goal. What could have been a nightmare was instead an expensive, well-planned and strategic solution with invaluable results.


Parenting Teens: Realizing when you need Help


Tommy Jordan needs parenting teens help. Almost as much help as his daughter does, maybe more. He needs the support, the tools, the guidance and the professionals to step in and help him get his daughter on solid ground.


Our bridge took 125 years to fall apart. It doesn’t take that long for teens and it doesn’t just happen overnight. In the Jordan family, there had been erosion and decay for years before the death of the laptop. Relational deterioration was obvious and extreme in this story. I’m going to guess that friends and family members saw this coming. None of us should be shocked by this multi-person collision; we should just be concerned and proactive with your own teens to avoid ending up in the same mess. Parenting teens can be risky business.


I’m writing the sequel – “Daughter’s Teen Brain: Bridge over Troubled Water.”


Thoughts on this story about parenting teens?


Remember – safe teen dating does not happen by accident!


Lisa Jander – The Teen Whisperer


In the book Dater’s Ed, Lisa Jander, the Teen-Whisperer, helps parents teach their teenagers to learn how to “date defensively, navigate safely and steer clear of unhealthy relationships.”

Daniel Watkins who is a professional writer discusses here in this article few causes of bad behavior parenting teens. His advices to the parents they should understand the Teen Brain first because it’s not fully developed.

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