On New Year’s Resolutions06.01.2023
Invitation: Psychodrama group exploring current issues in the LGBTQ community12.01.2023
"We are alone, do you understand that?!"
"Do you understand that we are alone?!" This was said to me by a mother who had recently found out that her now grown child had a different sexual orientation. She and her husband are a composite image of the different stories that LGBT parents experience, and the feelings of isolation, self-blame, fears, and painful disconnect with their children's attitudes about the future are common threads in the individual stories they often share in my office.
Finding themselves in the position of having to "keep a secret" from family and friends because "they won't understand and will be judgmental," parents suddenly realise how isolated their children have felt as well, hiding part of their personalities for years. And how painful that can be. The kind of psychological support I give to these parents is about taking them at their own pace through the different stages of their child's acceptance, respecting their needs, family values and personality. We walk this path together. But it is not enough.
These parents have the most overwhelming need to not feel alone and isolated in their experiences.
That's why we started a group for parents of LGBT youth in late September 2019, which is still functioning today.
What is specific about this support group?
Like our group for LGBT youth, this group is a valuable resource for support and mutual help, bringing together parents who are going through similar experiences. In a safe and confidential environment, they can explore resources for dealing with a variety of challenges and feel supported by other parents who have faced similar situations. The group is guided by the needs of its members and is a good foundation for making lasting connections, forming community.
What are the benefits of a support group?
In an environment of formed trust, families can share their concerns more calmly, their fears, and their positive experiences. The most valuable thing about a group like this is the feeling that you are not alone, that there are others who are going through or have gone through similar situations to yours. In addition to sharing experiences, you will also have the opportunity to hear HOW another parent has coped, what path they have walked, that the relationship with your child will go through challenges (not necessarily) but love is the force that makes the feeling of connectedness even stronger. I often hear parents say, "I accept my child, but you have to understand that it's hard for me." It's only natural, even in families where different sexual orientation is not stigmatised, to have difficulties and challenges. The group is also helpful for parents who find acceptance of their LGBT child impossible and distant. Their love for their child runs through the understanding that they need to protect him or her from any difficulties that a different sexual orientation may eventually bring. In a support group, parents can walk a path together, without judgment, through listening to the others, through understanding their point of view, but always with care for the children - regardless if they are all grown up or not.
The positive effect of the group occurs thanks to self-disclosure - of emotions and of feelings; overcoming isolation - by members realising that they are not alone, that there are others with similar problems; by sharing common shame, stigma, under the conditions of equality and lack of judgement. The example of members who have made a positive change in themselves and in their relationship with their child will create the feeling, "I can do it too."
If you would like to join the LGBT Parent Support Group, please complete the following form: sign up for a group and we will contact you for more details.
Author: Anna Joukivskaya