When I started working in the Podcast Industry I wanted to hear the voices of people who were going to truly make an impact in the world on podcasts. This month is about influencers and although this podcast isn’t top of the charts yet, host Heather Hester is making a huge difference in the lives of her listeners and an impact in this world making Heather an influencer I want to introduce to you!
Heather Hester, Host of Just Breathe: Parenting Your LGBTQ Teen gets ‘love mail’ from her listeners thanking her for having the courage to share her story which feels like permission for them to share. Heather leads with love, education, support and hope.
If you ask Heather if her listeners are the Parents supporting the Teens with their coming out process or the Teens going through the process themselves? She’ll tell you both, it’s not what she expected but it is what she loves. Heather is here to transform the conversation around loving and raising your LGBTQ+ Teenager and that is exactly what her podcast is doing!
Book lover, creative writer, Yogi, wife and Mamma of 4. Heather devoted her life to raising her four kids. Being very involved in their school and activities Heather prided herself on encouraging her kids to have good grades and ran a fairly conservative household.
Heather’s journey to becoming the Host of Just Breathe: Parenting Your LGBTQ Teen began when her own son embraced his sexuality as a young gay man. In Heathers words, her and her husband were “blindsided and shocked then quickly dove into learning everything they could about how to support their son”
In the four+ years since her son embraced his sexual identity, Heather and her family have felt every emotion, and have experienced dozens of situations ranging from heartwarming and humorous to terrifyingly life-threatening.
Conner, Heather’s son, dives into his experience of his coming out process in episodes 21, 22 & 23, his story is incredible, brave and raw. I highly recommend listening to his perspective, being a brave role model for other teens to follow has contributed so much to the success of this show.
While on vacation with her family in Hawaii, Heather read about this author she loves who talked about how they were launching a podcast. There, she felt like it’s a a genius idea because she had been really thinking about how she can reach and connect with more people
She started Googling how to start a podcast..Then came across a person who does a quick course on putting together podcasts. She did the course, put this thing together and launched it three months later.
“My mission is I don’t want people to feel alone. I don’t want parents, kids, whomever to feel alone..So as people have reached out in different forms, I’ve started creating this community for them to talk with one another.. It’s just been so lovely that people share, it’s becoming this really beautiful process…I think the number of people who have reached out and have shared such vulnerability,.. was very surprising to me”
She and her husband initially felt alone and overwhelmed, moving her to want to support others traveling a similar path. She desires to discuss taboo topics and erase stigmas surrounding the coming out process and parenting an LGBTQ+ teen.
Through her interviewing hundreds of experts and coaching families herself, Heather has created a framework. These pillars help and support people moving them through that ‘Coming Out Process’. Her principles are simple yet effective – To embrace, educate, empower, and love.
The 4 Pillars are:
- Embrace – Embrace not just your child specifically, but also the process and the journey.
- Educate – Be educated about the process, and about the LGBTQ plus community. There’s so many different pieces to it – Depending on Who you are, Where you live, What your background is, and more questions to come up. It’s about finding accurate information.
- Empower – Once you are educated, and have embraced the process, you’re not only empowered to move forward, YOU can empower your child and those around you to advocate and go out in the world
- Love – It encompasses all of these pillars. It was a pillar on its own because this was talking about the idea of unconditional love and what unconditional love is.. Love without conditions, and love without judgment.
A question I asked Heather, How can we be curious and respectful when we may not be familiar with the correct language to use? With that, Heather gave a suggestion on how do to get involved in communicating properly,
“First, Don’t be afraid to make mistakes..Don’t be afraid to make a mistake in what you’re saying. Because it’s so much appreciated. When the effort is there, whomever you’re speaking with, they’re going to be so touched that you’re actually making the effort. It is okay to ask questions as long as it’s in a spirit of just curiosity and love, it doesn’t matter…People appreciate that.”
To create a course specifically about how to use the language of the LGBTQ+ community – Is Heather’s project that she’s been keen to get working on..
In the process of coming out..Heather leaves parents and kids some helpful advice:
“For parents, first, if your inclination is to panic, DON’T.. Don’t panic..Just breathe because it is all about taking that BREATHE. And knowing, YOU’VE GOT THIS, you totally have this..Let your child have their process and ask questions. If you find you’re needing information, support, and you’re needing community, I’M HERE, there are lots of people out there who are willing and waiting to be helpful”
“For kids, Ask for what you need. It’s okay to ask for what you need. If your parents or guardians don’t understand, EXPLAIN..It’s okay to explain it. But the most important thing is, we adults are not mind reader’s, so it is hard for us to know exactly the need. It’s okay to ask for it. Know that there are people who love you. And if your people are not responding in that way right now, it just takes time”
When we see our kids in pain, and struggling, we always want to fix it. No matter what it is, we want to fix it. That’s like the instant parent response. Instead of being like, ‘I’m going to take care of that for you’, UNDERSTAND and RECOGNIZE that response and sit on it, validate what they’re feeling. Let them know that you see and hear what they’re going through
Heather says, “As long as there is love and whatever the process is, It’s going to be okay..You’re going to get through this, You’re going to be stronger, You’re going to be wiser, It can be good and beautiful… Let this be beautiful. “
You can find Heathers Just Breathe: Parenting Your LGBTQ+ Teen episodes and her blog over at https://chrysalismama.com. Heather’s Podcast helps calm you, educate you, inspire you, and support you on this beautifully unpredictable journey!