Dear Susan: My Partner’s Parents Are Not Supportive. How Can I Best Help Her?

Dear Susan: My Partner’s Parents Are Not Supportive. How Can I Best Help Her? March 27, 2015

bears

I love love. It gets tricky sometimes, doesn’t it? Fear can sneak up on us, or break down the door, and complicate things. But love is the best. To be loved for who we are is a gift. To love another person is a blessing.

A reader contacted me about what she can do to help her partner deal with difficult parents, and also how to not be afraid, even jealous of the help her partner was receiving from others.

dear-susan_white

I write Dear Susan posts most every Friday. Sometimes they are poignant, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes tender, sometimes funny… but hopefully always worth the read.

Hi Susan,

My girlfriend has recently started following your work and has gotten involved with a Facebook group connected to FreedHearts. I was hoping you would be able to help me a little bit.

My parents were accepting when I came out to them so it has been difficult for me to completely understand what she is going through since her parents have not been supportive at all. I was hoping you might be able to give me some advice on how I can best support her. She has been meeting with people from our church recently and talking with people on the Facebook group. I’m a little jealous because it seems like I should be able to help, and if I was helping enough, why would she need to turn to them? I know that it has nothing to do with me and other people with similar experiences are better suited to give her advice because they are going through it or have gone through it.

I guess my only question is, how can I best support her through this journey? Are there any books you might suggest that could help me to understand better? I don’t know of many resources (people, books, etc.) for my side of this. I really appreciate the work that you are doing because I know it has helped so many people – it has already helped my girlfriend. Any advice you can give me would be much appreciated. Thank you so much.

Have a great week.

God Bless,

Jessica

Dear Jessica,

That’s a really good question! Great of you to want to help her through it – I mean, obviously. 🙂

So, do not be dismayed that you aren’t the one to help her. We kind of think we are supposed to be the all-in-all to our beloved partner, but we are not. Really. We experience many things that need support for from someone who’s been there. For instance, if she had been in an accident and had to go through physical therapy, someone who’d been down that road would probably be able to give her more hands-on support than you, if you hadn’t been through it. It’s not a lack on your part – it’s just a road you have not traveled. Your role of support is to encourage her to connect with those who’ve been there as much she needs to.

But Jessica, you do have a significant role, the most significant role. No one knows her like you do. Your love for her reaches a depth in her soul that no one can, and that the hurt and hate from others can’t even come close to reaching. Your belief in her helps her believe in herself.

Our job with our partners is to help them be the best them they can be! Give her the space that allows her to be the best her she can be. To encourage her as she finds people who can help her navigate very tricky waters will help her be a better her. And you as her partner reap the benefits!

Rejoice with her, laugh with her. And cry with her. Let your love lift her heart and her soul in the way only you can. 🙂

Love to you,

Susan

I don’t know of any books, maybe readers will share about some in the comments section. But you might want to search for testimonies of those who’ve been there, and listen to their experience. It might give you a good insight into what the battle really is. Here is a list of links I’ve started for you. These can be tough to read, but it will make it easier to understand at least what your partner is going through with non-affirming parents. It’s a horrifying road some parents shove their kids onto, pulling out the name of God to support their hateful behavior. Tragic.

On Being a Disinherited Gay Son

Sharing the Stories of LGBT Youth: Zachary, 18, From Las Vegas

“Are you in jail? Did you get expelled? Are you in trouble? What happened? What did you do?” Suddenly her mom’s silence matched Jackie’s own. “Oh, my God,” she murmured in disbelief. “Are you gay?”  “Yeah,” Jackie forced herself to say. After what felt like an eternity, her mom finally responded. “I don’t know what we could have done for God to have given us a fag as a child,” she said before hanging up.

Daniel Ashley Pierce, a 20-year-old from Georgia, came out as gay last October. At the time, his father was unresponsive and his stepmother seemed supportive. However, things took a turn for the worse Wednesday when Pierce found himself a part of what he describes as a “delayed intervention” involving his father, stepmother and grandparents. He apparently captured footage of the interaction on camera. “I wanted to make sure there was evidence in case something happened,” Pierce told The Huffington Post in an email Thursday.

Life changed for Peter Ruiz in the summer of 2011. Just a couple of days shy of his high school graduation, Ruiz, who is now 20 years old, was kicked out of his home. He had decided that he wanted to major in theater in college, and his adoptive mother objected – she was concerned, he says, that theater would turn him gay. After it happened, Ruiz stood locked outside of his family home, unable to get back in. “I felt really lost,” he says. “I guess that’s the best way to describe it – lost. [It was the] same feeling as when you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere. You just don’t know where to go or what to do next.”

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