I am the go-to for parents whose kids are coming out. I’ll go ahead and apologize to the kids now. I am in no way qualified to be anyone’s parent. I don’t know anything for sure. I just write about how it all feels.
I imagine that’s why friends come to me in the first place. It all feels so big and indescribable. They want to talk to someone who can put some words around the emotional swings and second-guessing.
I don’t mind at all, just to be clear. It’s a badge of honor if you ask me. It takes a lot of trust to admit you’re uncomfortable or vulnerable.
I also know there aren’t many places to find answers that don’t send you spiraling with self-doubt and hate. Most advice talks about the best-case scenarios, and honestly, I think it plants the seeds for parents to feel like failures. That’s dangerous. Self-doubt and hate don’t often facilitate acceptance and personal evolution.
When I came out to all of you as nonbinary, I found that a lot more people in my coaching calls are coming to me when their kids come out. It happened this week, in fact, during a 1-1 LinkedIn profile rewrite. “You use they/them pronouns, right? My kiddo is non-binary,” she explained. “Can you help me with something?”
After offering my favorite practice advice, I could sense the relief. I know my client just wants to get it right. Ultimately, I believe most parents do. But getting it right when you’re recalibrating dreams that are over a decade old isn’t easy.
Easy or not, evolution is mandatory when people around you change - especially your kids, especially when they come out.
Most parents forget to consider themselves at this moment. I see you, though. When a kid is born into the world, we celebrate with dreams. Every person who encounters that baby has a vision for them. Everyone wants this child to have the most incredible life. Often, that includes an investment of hope - for success, accomplishments, and love. Inevitably, the love looks a lot like their own.
Changing that mental image is not simple or straight-forward. Most parents don’t know how to say, “I am learning about your new dreams and adjusting to the fact that they don’t look 100% like mine,” without feeling like they are disapproving or disregarding their kid.
Even in the uncertainty, there are two messages we can convey to those kids to plant the seeds of confidence.
First, tell your kid that their self-awareness is beautiful. You feel lucky to know who they are and to experience this evolution with them. You can grow together through this.
The second lesson is one I just picked up last week.
Tell your kid they have power. Existing fully awake and living your truth is a superpower people chase their entire lives. That power can be disruptive, primarily when it’s disrupting perceptions. Disruptive power makes people curious and sometimes callous. That’s ok. Keep being you.
Empowering your kid with that knowledge is the best thing you can do—that and showing them how you take care of your heart, too.
I spoke with middle schoolers about that superpower this week - that and the job search. There’s so much I wish I knew when I was younger, and more than ever, I find myself chasing opportunities to pass that information along.
I turned that inspiration into a blog post I hope you’ll forward along to anyone you know that’s looking for a job. The post is a recap of all the advice I wish I had at 21. Just like this letter, I take a different approach to the job search because I remember what it feels like.
While I’d never call myself a job search expert, I have had seven jobs since 21. I’ve failed enough to offer a little insight. Trust me on that.
Be well -