Things are different in today's world. Things are more open and freely spoken about. Gender identity is one of those things. It is common for kids to be curious about their identity, now that they can discuss these things and learn more about them, kids are able to find out where they fit in. This can be confusing and scary for everyone involved.
Up until the last decade or so, these things were not as accepted as part of society. Pronouns were not openly used; people were made to feel ashamed of who they truly were.
When children go to their parents with questions about their sexual orientation, they are hoping for support and guidance. That does not always happen though. Some parents cannot bring themselves to accept that their children are any different from who they see them as.
According to Healthline, gender identity is a person's internal sense of their own gender. Gender identity isn't necessarily linked to a person's biological features, like genitalia or reproductive organs.
There is also the term, gender binary. This refers to the sorting of individuals into male or female.
In general, people have been socially conditioned to attach the genders of "man" and "woman." However, according to the International Gender Diversity Genomics Consortium, gender is much bigger than that, and involves biological and environmental factors.
The American Psychological Association has a countless list of terms that can be used for variations of identity. It's also important to remember that gender identity refers to how a person sees themselves; it does not dictate their sexual identity.
Parents Acceptance Of Gender Identity
Some parents have no issues with anything about gender identity concerning their child. Some parents are curious yet accepting of it. Some parents cannot accept their child's gender identity. It's ok. It's normal to have an influx of feelings regarding your child questioning their identity.
Parents might be anxious, nervous, concerned, or confused.
Parents may even experience a grieving period of sorts. They had certain visions of who their child would be, and now that is all changing. These feelings are all valid, says Dr. Enenbach, from the Child Mind Institute.
However, parents should try to avoid letting those feelings get in the way of supporting their child. Nobody is saying it will be easy, just to try.
How To Start Accepting Your Childs Identity
To begin the acceptance process, parents may want to begin by learning more about what their child is saying. A support group, researching, and/or seeing a therapist can all help a parent process their feelings on this subject. Children are not responsible for making sure this isn't going to hurt their parents feelings prior to being who they really are.
When parents put that on them, it can lead to their child possibly feeling shame or guilt. It's also important that parents try and take a deep breath, just because their child is questioning it, doesn't mean it's permanent.
CNN reports, three main factors are driving the phenomenon of teens and tweens across the country changing pronouns. More information about gender fluidity on the internet, a spike in the number of high-profile celebrities such as Demi Lovato and Nico Tortorella embracing nongendered pronouns, and pronouns showing up more frequently in communication technology.
Things For Parents To Remember About Gender Identity
Appreciate the trust your child has in you
When a child comes out as trans or states they are questioning their identity, parents need to believe that an immense amount of trust has been put into them. It can be intimidating to share these thoughts with anyone, especially parents. Even if you cannot grasp this change right now, know that, your child loves you, and they confided in you for a reason.
You cannot change them
A parent may not like this change, but truly they have no right to demean or invalidate their child. Nobody has the right to force anyone to conform to a certain standard or gender.
It's ok to not be ok
There is no law that says parents need to accept everything their child says and does the second they say or do it. Parents need to take care of themselves during this time too.
Seeking counseling is an option, keeping a journal, or talking to other parents who have gone through it. Those are all ways to get feelings out and process what is happening.
Things Not To Say To Your Child Questioning Their Identity
- You're just confused, you will get over it.
- No, I am pretty sure you're straight. I would know.
- Wait until you're older to decide.
- What is everyone going to think when I tell them this?
- This is society's fault.
- Life is hard for people who are different.
- You're not getting surgery, are you?
- Let's just pretend this didn't happen.
When parents are trying to understand gender identity and what comes with it, it can be very intense. A lot of emotions are involved for both children and parents. Maintaining a focus of open communication and respect is best for both parties involved.