by Michelle Tribe LMCA
Perhaps your child is questioning their sexuality or gender. Maybe you have noticed behaviors or traits that have made you wonder. They haven’t talked to you about it, but you think they may be. It’s important to remember that as children grow, it is natural to explore new and different things in life. Like when a boy asks to try walking in high heels. It could be natural childhood curiosity, similar to when your young daughter asks if she can shave in the morning like her grandpa does. Children learn through seeing, experimenting, and learning. Allow all of the children in your life to fully explore the wonderful world around them! Regardless of their gender. What about the classic question, should I allow my boy to play with dolls? Of course! Playing with dolls allows children to role play being loving and nurturing. Equally you should not make girls play with dolls. Perhaps your daughter wants to play with trucks because she is interested in science and wants to use the truck to experiment with gravity. Follow your child’s lead. Allowing them full access to a full range of toys and experiences in life, will actually help them develop into a more well-rounded adult.
If you feel like it may be more then curiosity, embrace it and take the opportunity to be open to the possibility. We are all on a continual progression of learning and growing. Begin by reflecting on what that would mean to you. Do you feel like it would change how you feel about your child? Would you be excited? Devastated? If you feel like your response would be negative or non-supportive, consider talking to a counselor about how you are feeling. Processing your thoughts will be beneficial whether your child comes out to you or perhaps a friend or loved one. Either way, you have had the opportunity to reflect on your personal perspective and views around the subject. Along with reflecting on your personal reaction, unless you are already knowledgeable, learn some basic gender and sexuality terms. Similar to taking a parenting class to learn how to handle sibling rivalry or researching what karate is, prior to saying yes or no to your child when they ask to enroll.
You will want to use reputable resources that will provide you with accurate and correct information. An excellent national resource is the Human Rights Campaign, https://www.hrc.org Another reliable resource that has many local chapters in Washington is PFLAG. PFLAG is the largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families. Contact your local chapter for support and resources, https://pflag.org
What should I do if my child does talk to me about their gender or sexuality? First and foremost, listen. Feel honored that they choose to share very personal information about themself with you. It may have taken them a lot of courage and time to decide to talk to you about it. As their parent, your response will be remembered, likely forever! Stay present, hear them out and respect what they share with you. Healthy responses may include I have always loved you and always will, thank you for sharing this information with me, I support you, is there anything I can do for you? Want to go shopping for a new outfit that feels more like your authentic self? May I share the news with my friends or is this conversation confidential?