How to Welcome Your Child’s LGBTQ Partner to the Family
You’re the proud parent of a newly engaged LGBTQ person: Congratulations! You’re happy for them, excited about the wedding—and maybe a little unsure about what comes next. If you have questions about welcoming your child’s LGBTQ partner into the family, we have some tips.
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Relax—you’ve got this
Perhaps this is your first foray into in-law territory and you want to get it right. Or you’re not sure how an LGBTQ wedding is different. And, of course, you want the new couple to feel welcome in your home and comfortable around your family and close friends.
Good news: If you’re racking your brain for ways to make someone feel at home, your heart’s already in the right place. Here are some simple, thoughtful ways you can show your support.
As every couple does, these two will want their engagement and wedding to reflect their unique relationship. From the wedding showers to the venue, who officiates, their vows, and their attire—every choice is an opportunity to express themselves and their love for each other.
When you think about how many wedding traditions are based on gender roles, it’s easy to see where differences might arise:
- LGBTQ couples likely have a wedding shower, not a bridal shower—and both probably attend.
- They might walk down the aisle together—or not at all.
- Their wedding parties may have multiple genders on both sides.
From parents’ roles in planning to the first dances, they’ll have a lot to figure out. Ask what role they’d like for you to play and how you can support them.
Language is also important when describing LGBTQ relationships. If you’re not already aware, you can ask about:
- Which gender pronouns they use
- Whether they want to use gendered terms like “bride” and/or “groom”
- Their titles, for example, Mr., Mrs., Ms., Mx.
- The last name or names they’ll use once they’re married
And don’t hesitate to do some research of your own, so the couple doesn’t carry the entire emotional load. All marriages encounter challenges and frustrations; educate yourself about what makes an LGBTQ relationship unique and you’ll be in a better position to offer support.
Share your traditions
From favorite summer menus to elaborate holiday customs, we all have traditions that make us family. The more you share, the more welcome your newest member will feel. And that’s especially important when who a person is and who they love don’t always meet with universal acceptance.
Through simple actions and big gestures, you can make your child’s fiancée feel included and loved. Here are some ideas:
- Be open-minded about roles and traditions that may have been gender-specific in the past. It may be time to welcome a new face in the kitchen or around grill.
- Include both names on any card you send—“Dear Lindsay and Cady”—to truly acknowledge their partnership. Include them on family text chains and emails, too—and understand if they opt out.
- Ask questions instead of making assumptions about what family activities they do and don’t want to participate in—and err on the side of making an invitation. Extend the invitation directly: “Cady, we really look forward to seeing you at Christmas.”
- Asking about their needs—from dietary restrictions to faith customs to their own family traditions—lets them know you care about them.
- Share the secrets: family recipes, inside jokes, handed-down histories, funny stories. Do everything you can to make your new in-law feel included.
Weddings are celebrations of dedication, love, and the joining of families. This is surely one of the biggest events in your grown-up child’s life and should be met with the open, unabashed enthusiasm and admiration as every family wedding.
While acceptance for LGBTQ relationships continues to grow, positive words from family and allies still matter. Right from the start, let the happy couple know you’re on their side and proud of their relationship and commitment to one another. If they’re comfortable with it, share photos of their happy moments with friends in person and in social media.
After the big day, continue to support them, offer encouragement, and share their joys—and struggles. Marriage isn’t always easy, and they will appreciate having family in their corner.
Perhaps the best advice to anyone welcoming a child’s partner to the family is to see what your child sees in them. They’ve fallen in love with someone who’s changed their world for the better. And now, that wonderful person is a part of your family. Lucky you!
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