Top 3 Tips To Support Your Kids While They Are Exploring Their Sexuality and Gender Identity
If you grew up queer like me and were questioning your sexuality and gender identity, it would be nice to have your parents’ support through this difficult journey of self-discovery. However, many of us didn’t have supportive parents, I once had a traumatic coming out experience, and I found myself homeless/unhoused on my 17th birthday when I decided to come out to my parents.
As parents, you should try your best to support your kids no matter what they are going through; your job as a parent is to help and support them throughout this journey. So, without further ado, let’s dive into this blog and learn some of our tips to support your kids while they are exploring their gender identity and sexuality.
1. Provide a judgment-free space
If your kids decide to come out to you (either in terms of their gender identity or sexuality), they trust you enough to tell you this part of their identity. Please don’t be like my parents and don’t throw your kids out because your religion tells you that it is immoral. Coming out is a big step for them, and this is filled with fear and anxiety about your reaction to them.
Even if you need time to process this information, don’t show it to your kids; tell them that you love them and are proud of them. It is easy to assume cliches and believes that it is just a phase, or they are confused, but trust me, it isn’t a phase, and if they are telling you this, they’ve thought about this for a long time. These words can be damaging to your relationship, and it makes takes them time to build their trust again.
2. Introduce your kids to diverse media
Even if your kids aren’t queer, trans or non-binary, it is good to introduce them to diverse media as it will teach them about representation. The world we inhabit isn’t just black and white; there is a lot of nuances, and you can teach them this through tv and cartoon. As parents you need to teach your kids about inclusive media for racial diversity, queer identities or even gender identities.
We need to decolonize the mind of our kids and teach them that a straight white boy isn’t the most important person on the planet and that diversity is good, and whiteness doesn’t necessarily equate to rightness. Seeing yourself represented on screen and in a book can be really powerful, and this is why you need to show your kid inclusive media. Inclusive media expose them to vocabulary to address issues of gender and sexuality.
3. Encourage therapy
When a child is faced with something as important as naming themselves or establishing their identity, they can feel overwhelmed. It can be easy for your child to feel overwhelmed. It can be difficult not to feel “normal,” not to belong, and not to have a relationship with his or her friends. Your child may also face bullying or exclusion at school and from peers. These are all things to watch out for and address. Support groups or therapists are excellent resources, and it can’t hurt to get outside help for your child.
It also doesn’t hurt if you don’t always know how to best support your child, and you may be anxious to show up for your child in the way he or she needs. Support groups will cover you here, too. A number of parent support groups offer you the opportunity to get advice from other parents and can help you expand your LGBTQ+ circle of friends and that of your child.
Judith Butler, on the matter of gender identity and sexuality, once said:
“I think we won’t be able to understand the operations of trans-phobia, homophobia, if we don’t understand how certain kinds of links are forged between gender and sexuality in the minds of those who want masculinity to be absolutely separate from femininity and heterosexuality to be absolutely separate from homosexuality.”
Your kid’s sexuality should change how you treat them, it is only one facet of their identity, and you should treat them as you were previously. As parents, our job is to love our kids and support them no matter what. Don’t be a parent if you don’t want your kids to be queer, trans or disabled. Sound off in the comments section below and tell us what you want to read next and if you want to read more about raising queer kids.