Acceptance doesn’t mean you have stopped feeling all of the above, it means you have realised you love your child exactly as they are and you are prepared to support your child as they explore and express their LGBT+ identity. Accepting your child will mean your child knows they have someone who is safe to be themselves around, that there is someone that loves them completely and there is a guaranteed space where their identity is respected.
This can be a difficult stage; you have realised that your child’s identity cannot be changed, you may have said some things you now regret and some of those dreams and expectations you had for your child you have had to change or let go of and so it can feel like a loss. It is common to feel this way as you have to let go of the life you pictured for your child before you can come to accept what their life may look like, now knowing more about their identity. Remember, although the life you pictured for your child may now look a little different, being LGBT+ does not mean your child will have a poorer quality of life than you had previously imagined.
You may begin bargaining as you subconsciously try and protect your family against any pain. You may find yourself thinking, “It’s okay if they don’t tell anyone else” or “They can be LGBT+ as long as they don’t do it in front of us”. Like the denial stage, sharing these thoughts with your child could seriously damage your relationship as you’re essentially asking them to do things you wouldn’t ask of your straight/cis children or you’re asking them to hide a part of who they are.
This stage tends to begin as you start to accept that this is real and your child is in fact LGBT+. You may try to seek and assign blame for your child’s LGBT+ identity. Know that there is nothing you or anyone has done that ‘caused’ your child to be LGBT+, it is also not something your child has chosen to be, the only choice they have made is choosing to share with you how they are feeling. It is important to deal with your anger yourself and not direct it towards your child, as all your child has done is to be honest about their feelings.
This may involve thoughts like “It’s just a phase”, “They’re too young to know” or “They just haven’t met the right boy/girl yet”. Although denial is a usual stage to go through, it is an unhealthy stage to remain in over the long-term. Try and avoid voicing these thoughts to your child, as they have probably been thinking about ‘coming out’ to you for a long time and phrases like those mentioned invalidate their identity and may seriously damage your relationship.