It’s important to make sure that your child knows that you are there for them through this process of discovering their sexuality and gender identity. It can be a tough time for them but one of the best ways to demonstrate your support is to show your child that you are a partner in this process and that they don’t have to do it alone.
Ways to be open and approachable:
- show a genuine interest in how they see themselves, what they think, and what they’re experiencing
- offer to practice how to respond to negative comments, or how to approach telling other people
- ask questions, and listen
- empathise with them, share your experiences, and just be there for them
- show them you are supportive of whatever decision they make and that you will love them whatever their sexuality, gender identity, or however they express themselves
- encourage them to keep you in the know about how they feel and what they want to do about it. Tell them you’re happy to help them look for more information or to talk to others on their behalf if they want you to.
People are often aware of their sexuality or their gender from a very young age, but they don’t necessarily have the words to express it. Whether or not your child is questioning their sexuality or gender identity, it’s important that you help them feel comfortable enough to talk about it.
Here are some helpful conversation starters that you might want to use with your child, that we know can be effective, based on current research and psychology:
- some people are attracted to just one type of person or gender; other people are attracted to many different people. Either is ok
- people don’t have to choose right away if they’re straight or gay or something else. Everyone should take all the time they need to figure out what they feel and what they want to call it
- similarly, gender isn’t always as simple as whether we’re a boy or a girl
- In our society, there are often a lot of different opinions about how people should dress and act, based on their biological gender. Regardless of what others think, people should be free to choose what feels right for them
- sometimes inside people feel like they are more of a boy, or a girl, or that being either doesn’t feel right for them. It’s okay to feel different inside
- everyone has the right to choose what they want to be identified as and what they want people to call them.