When you’ve grown up in a world that has really limited visibility and awareness of the diversity of gender, sexuality and variations of sex characteristics, it’s understandable that you might be overwhelmed by how much there is to learn. Rest assured, your child doesn’t need you to understand all the acronyms and different identities, they just need you to be there and walk alongside them on their journey. You might not fully understand what they’re going through, and that’s okay, you don’t need to. You just need to make sure that your child knows that you are there for them, and you aren’t going anywhere.
Things to consider:
- Embrace the unknown - it can be scary to see your child going through something you don’t understand, accept that you don’t really get it (yet!) and embrace the new journey, it will bring you closer with your child
- Even if you’re not sure what to say, something as simple as, “I'm here for you. I love you, and I will support you no matter what” can have a profoundly positive impact
- Be present and be open - when your child talks to you about their identity, listen to what they are telling you and be open to understanding
- Show an interest in all parts of your child's life - this will make it easier for them to bring up the bigger topics, and demonstrate that you’re there for them
- Without laying it on too thick, show that you are trying to expand your understanding - let them know if you’ve watched a good tv show or read an article about rainbow experiences, and share your learning with them. This can help to build their trust
- Ask your child what they need or what they would need to be able to open up to you and let them know you want to create safe conditions for them and it would help to know what these are (e.g. undisturbed space, blanket, hot chocolate etc)
Some questions to ask yourself:
- How might my fear of the unknown be influencing my reaction to what my child is telling me?
- What are some of the beliefs I have about rainbow people, where did those beliefs come from, is that what I really think?
- How might my child be feeling?
- How could I show my child that I’m there for them?
- Am I making this about me, or letting it be about my child?