How To Address Gender Issues With Your Teens
In today’s world, gender identity can be a difficult topic to discuss, especially with teenagers. Regardless of how you identify yourself, your child needs your utmost respect, love, and support to guide them through whatever struggles they may face regarding their gender identity. It is not easy for anyone to admit that they identify as a different gender, so it is crucial to be a confidant for your children. Today, we will discuss positive ways that can help you and your teenager communicate and navigate through their struggles with gender identity.
How will you start a conversation?
Offer a listening ear.
It is common for children to experiment with gender roles as they grow up; however, kids at school can be mean and say things that may be upsetting to your child. If you can tell that something is off and your child isn’t behaving in their usual way, don’t hesitate to address the subject head-on and help them feel comfortable enough to express their feelings. It is not about fixing all of their problems; they first need to get it all out there. You, as a parent, should always offer a listening ear. This is the best thing you can do to support a healthy relationship with anyone. It is not easy to tell someone else about your feelings, so it may take time for them to dig deep and tell you exactly what they are experiencing. Look for signs of distress, anxiety, or depression and seek a medical professional’s help if necessary to initiate a serious conversation about gender identity.
Finding an identity is not easy.
During the teenage years, it is crucial to gain a strong sense of self and build confidence. In general, teenagers often find it hard to know how they fit in at school or among their group of friends. This is also true for gender diverse teens who feel conflicted about their individual identity. Keep an open mind and do not pass judgment. Find appropriate times to discuss this sensitive topic with your teen and ask them open-ended questions. That way, the discussion will be guided by their responses and will serve their needs and concerns.
What interests them?
Everyone has talents, interests, and hobbies. Instead of solely focusing on their gender identity, you can also encourage your teen to participate in anything they enjoy doing. If they don’t know what they like, offer suggestions and create an environment that will help them discover their own talents and abilities. This will enable them to have other outlets to express themselves and not feel restricted to any given label. Keep in mind that nobody can know who they really are while going through their formative years. When you can, take time to share personal stories to help your teens understand that they don’t have to have everything figured out right now.
Diversity is positive.
If nothing else, be a source of encouragement and talk about diversity in a positive light. Have a heart-to-heart and tell your teen how unique they are. Remember to show them you will love them no matter what. If they have a hard time expressing their feelings out loud, you can always have them write it down for you, and you can write back and forth to each other and connect that way. Their mental health is essential. Try to keep tabs on them as much as possible without being overbearing. The moment they sense you don’t love them unconditionally may lead to severe consequences that will only hurt your relationship.
Keep an open mind and the line of communication open.
We hope you can learn from the mistakes that others have made and be sensitive in regards to the topic of gender identity. Teenagers may not show how much they love you and care about your opinion, but you as a parent can step up and be a light and good example to your children. As long as you keep an open mind and keep the line of communication open, they will eventually come to you seeking counsel and advice.