When a child comes out, it is a life changing experience that challenges our preconceived notions and basic assumptions about life, parenthood, and faith. Most of us were brought up to believe that our child would be heterosexual and never entertained the notion that he or she might be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. That was an experience that happened to other people — but certainly not us, you might be thinking.

Parents sometimes compare a child’ coming out to a mourning process, because it represents the passing of certain dreams and expectations. You must remember that you are not alone on this difficult journey and such feelings are normal. It took your child years to accept that he or she is gay, and it may take some time for you to get to the same point of acceptance. However, at this trying time, your son or daughter needs your unconditional love more than ever.

If you feel alone or isolated, a flood of questions may rush into your head. For instance, you might wonder, “What went wrong?” “How did this happen?” “Will my child be okay?”

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A mom, Susan Stanskas, discusses how ‘ex-gay’ organizations divide families – in the name of family values – and even cause some gay teenagers to commit suicide.

It is important to know that the medical and mental health community says that there is no scientific evidence to support the theory that parents are responsible for a child’ sexuality. Your son or daughter are fine the way they are, and homosexuality is a natural sexual orientation experienced by millions of people. While being gay is not a choice, you can choose to love and accept your child as they are.

Unfortunately, there are organizations — such as Exodus International and Focus on the Family – that exploit the pain and confusion felt by parents dealing with this sensitive issue. These religious groups hold showy conferences that wrongly claim that a distant same-sex parent and an overbearing opposite-sex parent are the cause of homosexuality.

They also make unrealistic promises of divine healing and sexual conversion — for a fee. If you buy their copious reading materials, slick videos and attend their expensive symposiums, they suggest that they can make your child straight — if they just try hard enough. This is intentional, for when the cure inevitably does not endure, they will blame you and your child — but never take responsibility or refund your money.

To sell this false hope, they bombard desperate and vulnerable parents with wedding photos and testimonials of so-called “ex-gays.” An avalanche of scientific disinformation accompanies such props.

It is crucial that you are aware that the “science” used at such conferences is rejected by every respected medical and mental health association in America. Researchers consider the “studies” touted by these fringe organizations to be outdated or skewed. Focus on the Family and Exodus also don’t volunteer that several of the “ex-gays” that once ran their programs came out again as gay, or were exposed for not living as advertised. This overwhelming failure rate is why ex-gay organizations keep no statistics.

In your moment of need — when your world is turned upside down — it is easy to be seduced by the attractive promises of sweet talking charlatans. However, tempting as it may be, please realize that you are being sold a mirage. You cannot wish or pray away your child’ homosexuality. And, any group that claims they can help your child is ripping you off by hawking a fraudulent product.

By coming out, your child has taken his or her first step in achieving the possibility of a productive life of great joy and fulfillment. The alternative to coming out is living a life of dishonesty, denial and deceit. No parent would want this option for his or her son or daughter.

At first, it may appear as if your child has changed. However, you will come to find that they are the same person they have always been — just a little more open and honest. Support them in making the noble decision to live with decency and honor.