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Do LGBTQ+ Kids Need to Care for their Small-Minded Parents?

Filial Obligation in Instances of Neglect


Photo via Maryland Senior Resource Network

By Emma Amar


Society expects parents to care for their children to the best of their abilities in hopes of someday receiving that same care and compassion when they are no longer able to care for themselves. In our society, filial duty is so routine it is almost a given. When a person is old enough and established enough to support themselves, they automatically earn the responsibility to make sure their parents can enter their next stage in the same comfort and circumstances that were provided to them as a child. This concept is nice in principle, but fails to acknowledge the many different circumstances that void this construct. These situations include having abusive parents, being abandoned as a child, and being caught in the middle of a messy divorce as a child. One of the newest and more increasingly widespread ways that filial obligation is called into question, is when a child’s identity is one that is not supported by their parents. 


In the past twenty years, we have seen an incredible insurgence of people openly expressing themselves, their sexualities, and identities to the world. While this is an outstanding step for our traditional world, there are always naysayers and people who don’t approve. While most don’t care when strangers and passers-by judge them for their identities, when it comes to their parents disapproval, it’s a different story.


Pregnant people often joke, “I don’t care what it is, as long as it’s healthy,” but in reality, most do care. They want their child to conform to a gender and often impose their own biases and social constructs on their children. They impose hypermasculinity on little boys, discouraging and often forbidding them from exploring other gender identities, while enforcing hyperfemininity on little girls, telling them that they cannot aspire to the same things as their male counterparts. When children grow up and can no longer be constrained by their parents, they explore and find their true selves.  Half of all teenagers report a negative reaction from their parents when coming out. When their parents have a fundamental issue with their identity, these teenagers start wanting to move away to a place where they don’t have to pretend to be someone they are not, and oftentimes this drives them to running away. In fact, according to the True Colours Fund, one in four LGBT teens are thrown out of their homes.


"Children whose emotional and psychological needs are not attended to during their development should not be obligated to care for the perpetrators of hate and intolerance in their old age. "

This situation brings forward the question: when a child is not accepted by a parent, do they have to care for them when they get old? The answer is no. A person that has to grow up with the notion that they are not valid does not have to ensure their parents’ comfort in their retired life. Although they may have been physically taken care of as children, they were not cared for mentally or emotionally. They were not allowed to blossom and find their identities, and were forced to either blatantly disagree with their parents (which often results in negative repercussions), or to live with two identities. Children whose emotional and psychological needs are not attended to during their development should not be obligated to care for the perpetrators of hate and intolerance in their old age. Enforcing this social construct would only add further harm to those who have pushed past their parents’ bigoted views to live as their true selves. 

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