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How to support your child when questioned about sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

For some families, talking about sensitive subjects can be challenging. Keep in mind that no matter the topic, it’s okay to give yourself permission to say, “I’m not prepared to talk about that right now. Let me think about it and I promise we will talk about this when I’m ready.” Giving your child the freedom to talk with you about anything, knowing it is safe to do so, is one of the best things you can do to support your child.

Parents may not know what to say or do, when a child asks questions about or shares, they are LGBTQIA+. When a child wants to talk about sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, love and support from parents and other family members is what’s most important. One of the best ways to be supportive is to have the necessary tools and resources on hand if/when the conversation occurs. Every child wants to be heard, accepted, and comforted by the ones they love.

Here are five ways for you to support your child:

1. Listen to your child and create an open and free conversation space

Express to your child that they have your support and that they can always come to you. This is so important because they may be scared and in need of your listening ears. You don’t need to have all of the advice for them – paying attention allows them to feel heard and understood. Approaching the conversation from a place of curiosity and mutual learning can make all the difference in how you both navigate this journey.

2. Respect and affirm your child’s identity

It may take some time to understand your child’s identity or their chosen names and pronouns. However, it is important to take the time to learn them and put your own feelings and emotions aside.

3. Learn more about the community and verbiage

How you speak to or about your child plays a significant role in this experience for them. It is important to learn about their community and the language used. Being informed and educated about their community helps to make them feel loved, cared for, and respected.

4. Advocate for your child

Whether this is done by correcting pronouns that other people use for your child or reinforcing their new name, let your child know that you will be an advocate for their choices.

5. Show your love to your child

There are many different ways to demonstrate your love to those around you. So, learn about how your child would like to receive love and support during this time and moving forward. It may be different from before. They might also need your help in identifying how they best receive love or your support. Let them know that you can work through that discovery journey together and that it may change as they continue to grow.

Please remember: There are many sensitive topics that families may need to discuss with their children. It is important to be open and honest in these conversations. It is also important to consider the age and maturity of the child when deciding when to talk with them and how much information is enough for that age and stage of development. Remember, it’s okay to tell your child that you need time to learn more about a topic before discussing it with them.

Putting in an effort to educate yourself can be the first step in showing your child the support they would like to receive. Here are some resources to get you started:

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