7 Tips To Talk To Your Child About Sexuality That Is NOT Heterosexuality
Coping with the fact that your child has sexuality is difficult in and of itself. Then, to heap another level of mind bending reality on top of that actualization, is that your child may have a different sexuality than you were prepared for or than you are even educated about could throw you for a loop. So, what do you do when your son/daughter tells you that he/she is gay, transgender, gender fluid, etc.?
As I began to write this article, I read a couple of other articles one written in 2013 that identified 7 types of sexuality and another written in 2016 that identified over 15 sexual identities, along with a disclaimer that the list was not inclusive. My how times have changed!
Back to the topic at hand, what do you do when your child opens up to you about their sexuality and it is not the expected?
Congratulations Are In Order!
The first step is to recognize that you have provided your son/daughter with the security to come to you instead of worrying that they cannot be honest with their parent(s). So many kids are faced with the challenge of not having a parent they can talk to, or that they believe will accept them if they are different from other children. Our job, as parents, is to love our children unconditionally and to cultivate an environment where they feel safe and loved – no matter what. If you’re at this phase, you’ve already conquered the biggest obstacle that may stand between you and your child.
How Did This Happen?
At this point, especially to your child, it doesn’t matter how/why/when – the only thing that matters is that it “is”. Do not ask your child how they became the way they are. An explanation is not necessary, not to you and certainly not to anyone else. It is also important, at this time, to avoid using any type of label to describe your child’s sexuality.
My Religion Says It Is Wrong!
This is a tough topic to address, but bottom line if you subscribe to a religion that doesn’t accept people for who they are (whether the religion itself has beliefs that something is wrong) perhaps it is time for some spiritual redirection. Religion is a noun, a descriptor, nothing more. Being spiritual is something different entirely, and requires action and participation.
What Do We Tell Our Friends? Our Family? Our Neighbors?
Umm…nothing. Since when did someone’s sexuality become the business of any other human being?
I Don’t Understand It, and I Don’t Know What to Say or How to Deal with It!
Just remember, you don’t have to deal with it. It’s your child’s life. What is most important, again, is that your child knows that he is loved, no matter what!
What If It Is Just A Phase?
And what if it isn’t? There is no sense in thinking that things will be different, or that he/she will “get over it”. More than likely it is not a phase, and if it is then you should allow your child to figure that out on their own. We are meant to not only be parents, but to be mentors to our children. There is nothing more important than teaching our children that they are valued and they are loved. What we teach our children is what they will teach theirs.
What If My Child is Being Bullied?
Deal with it head on. Talk to your child. Listen to your child. Have a long conversation, and keep your reactions to yourself. As a parent, the first thing we will want to do is confront a bully – to protect our child. This is another area where we have to put the concept of right and wrong on the top shelf. It is absolutely WRONG to bully someone, for any reason. You know that, I know that, everyone knows that. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It also doesn’t mean that the bullying will stop if you intervene. I am by no means insinuating that intervention should not take place, but what I am saying is that the intervention should be smart and well thought out. Again, right and wrong mean nothing if your child has to pay the price for someone else’s wrong doing because of the way it was handled. Because we jumped in with both feet, without considering the consequences of your actions. Go through the options with your child, talk about what could happen with each one – but maintain that something must be done and that you are willing to listen and together come up with the best solution that you can. Kids have enough to stress about, and enough burden that they carry simply because they are kids and we can’t protect them from everything. Working through the issue together is the absolute most important solution, participating in the solution along with your child so that the trust between you remains and is also strengthened.
How we cope with things that we aren’t prepared for, don’t understand or don’t want will teach our children more than I could possibly detail in an article. The bottom line is simply this: We are here to love our children, to listen to our children, to teach our children and to eventually allow our children to become the greatness we knew they would be the first time we held them in our arms.