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    in reply to: My son came out as trans, but isn’t sharing much else #4317

    JPrez and GroggyOne, you are both at the very beginning of a journey with your child that will undoubtedly have more of these moments of feeling scared and unsure. It is so very understandable to feel a sense of urgency to “figure it out.” As with any parenting moment, you are striving to understand and get more information. However, one very important thing to remember is that these beginning conversations are an significant opportunity to set a tone of “we love you no matter what.” When your child does indicate that they are ready to talk, I strongly recommend that you approach each conversation as a chance to strengthen connection, first and foremost, and a chance to gain information as secondary. What does this look like in practice?

    –Do your best to bring empathy and benefit of the doubt to the conversation, e.g. by saying “I get it,” or “makes sense,” or “of course”
    –Create safety by receiving what your child is saying without questioning or arguing in the moment, even you don’t agree or understand yet
    –Avoid questions about how, why, when, etc.; although your desire for information and need to understand better is coming from a place of love, this may put your child on the defensive

    These efforts can go a long way to help the conversations become a space where you build connection with your child.

    Ultimately, the goal is to demonstrate through your interactions that your love for your child does not vary or change with anything they may tell you regarding their gender identity.

    Disclaimer: creating and maintaining connection in these conversations takes practice and is indeed an aspirational goal! To the best of your ability, try not to initiate these topics when you (or your child) are feeling tired, stressed, worried, or angry. There will be some conversations that do not go well, and others that do. The most important piece is to return each time with an intention to listen, connect, and show love.

    As you wait for your child to be ready to talk, take care of yourself, do your own research (great idea, JPrez!), and seek support. Know that many other parents have walked this path before you. Reach out to them if you know them, and if you don’t, find a support group locally. It can be invaluable to process emotions with others who are on the same journey. Or for some, it is more comfortable to speak privately with a counselor or therapist who is knowledgeable in this area.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by Moderator.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by Moderator.
    • This reply was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by Moderator.

    in reply to: Anyone feel like they no longer know their child? #3468

    It can be so difficult to watch your child enter new territories or make choices that are not familiar (at any age!). The fact that she is open and sharing these things with you likely means that despite your concerns, your daughter sees you as someone she can talk to. So keep doing whatever you’re doing that’s making that happen!

    One important note is that you are witnessing various aspects of your daughter, and some are under her “control” so to speak, but her identity (who she is) and sexual orientation (who she is attracted to) are not. Although these pieces might come into awareness later in life or be disclosed as a child hits puberty or adulthood, people are generally born with a sense of who they are (gender) and who they are attracted to (sexual orientation). Other aspects you mention, such as piercings, tattoos, and polyamory are related to choices she is making around aesthetics, her body, and how she wants to be in relationship. These may shift and change as she explores or matures, as opinions or preferences often do.

    One final reassurance is that despite all this, your daughter is still the child you know. If it feels like you’ve lost touch with that person, ask her about what she is experiencing and how she feels about it. If you are able, during this conversation, choose “I” statements (“I’m scared when I think about you doing XYZ” or “I’m curious about what you think about XYZ” instead of “why” questions (“Why would you want to do XYZ?”) This approach reduces the likelihood that someone will feel questioned and then defensive about themselves.

    This is no easy task, so be gentle with yourself and keep trying. Remaining connected in your relationship with your daughter will be the most important thing you can do for both of you.

    in reply to: Pre-Teen Coming out #3403

    These replies are such a great example of how the families of LGBTQ kids can come together to support one another. Aliciaortego, your post does a nice job of explaining the difference between being “kind” and being “nice,” which is an important distinction. Thank you for this link.

    Pann, you exemplify a parent who is actively trying to connect their child with the LGBTQ community via Pride events, etc., which is such an important way to show support.

    To the original poster, we hope you have found a way to instill confidence and self-compassion in your daughter as she navigates school and friends.

    in reply to: Pre-Teen Coming out #3142

    This reply is also months after your original post, but it may be helpful to review “Parent Actions That Help” on this site for ideas about how to solidify your child’s feeling of being supported at home. While no one can protect a child from the ugliness that exists in the world, having a parent who loves, supports, and celebrates who they are protect them from being affected by negative messages they may receive outside of the home.

    The reply above demonstrates one important way to show support: finding local events such as LGBTQ pride events sends multiple messages to your child: you are taking action to demonstrate that you support and celebrate who they are and you are helping them see and connect with a community that may not be as visible to them in their school or neighborhood.

    in reply to: My husband and I disagree #3141

    This response is several months later than your post, so you may have found yourself in a different position by now. However, the themes that you write about are so common in many marriages, including the struggle to support a child coming out when parents hold different opinions, goals, and values. There is no right or wrong way to proceed, however, if your goal is to maintain or deepen connection with your child, your response of “I support you no matter what” is a great start. This may indeed lead to further conflict or disconnection with your husband. As you sort through your religious and parenting values, it would likely be helpful to find a pastor or counselor in your area who is both knowledgeable about your faith and LGBTQ-affirming. You and your husband could very likely find a way to continue with your faith and remain connected and supportive of your child–there are definitely churches out there that are affirming and welcoming! Best of luck on this journey; you are dealing with many important questions.

    in reply to: My 12 yr old Son came out last night #2954

    It is difficult and shocking, to say the least, for parents to find out that their tween or teen has been sending or receiving explicit photos (i.e. sexting). Sexting has become relatively common, according to Dr. Jeff Temple, a psychologist who has researched and published extensively in this area. Dr. Temple recommends talking to kids about sexting in the larger context of “the talk” that you have about sex, responsibility, digital citizenship, and consent. He gives the following advice:

    — Remember that “the talk” is an ongoing conversation that should start early and emphasize healthy relationships and comprehensive sexual education.

    — Become familiar and stay current with advances in technology.

    — Download and learn popular sharing apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

    — For younger kids, “friend,” “follow,” or “like” their accounts.

    — For older kids, where autonomy is critical to development, you may opt to give more privacy. Consider employing an “I won’t check until you give me a reason” approach.

    — Talk to your kids about sexting. Be sure they know about the potential risks associated with sending nude pictures.

    — Avoid scare tactics such as: “If you send a nude picture, you’ll never get into college or get a good job.” While this may happen, it is unlikely, and you may lose any credibility you had on the subject.

    If you think or discover that your tween or teen has sexted:

    — While certainly unsettling, this does not mean your child is deviant, depressed, or a “bad kid.”

    — Sexting is associated with sexual behavior, including future sexual behavior. Use this as an opportunity to begin or continue “the talk,” with an emphasis on healthy relationships and comprehensive sex education that includes abstinence and safe sexual practices.

    — Consider a formal monitoring system of his/her cell phone and social media accounts.

    You can find primers for parents about sexting online that may be helpful.

    Given that you began your post with the statement that your son has already come out and you love him no matter what, it would seem that you have the foundation of a close relationship. This conversation can hopefully be an extension of that, as you educate your son about the risks of underage people sending explicit material, as it can be have both legal and social ramifications for him. Here is another article addressing this topic that may be helpful:

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by Janet Duke.

    in reply to: Explaining lack of acceptance #2833

    What a difficult time for your daughter, and for you as a mother. It is easy to understand why you would want to have a conversation with the other parent, who may not be aware of the effects her behavior is having on your daughter.

    However, although it may feel as though confronting the other parent will help keep your daughter safe and healthy, the most effective way to help is to start with your daughter. Her comment about “doing something” could be her way of communicating that she is having thoughts of harming herself or someone else, or it could be a way of letting you know how upset she is. Either way, you cannot go wrong with verbalizing your love and support to your daughter and helping her understand that although the other parent may be struggling with acceptance, you are 100% on her side. If you are concerned that she may harm herself or someone else, reach out for help. This could be a call to her doctor or a therapist, or if you are unsure if you are able to keep her safe, calling 911 or taking her to an emergency room is a way to have her assessed immediately. Additionally, you will find a hotline and helpful information at The most important thing, again, is to communicate to your daughter that no matter what happens, you are there to listen, love, and support her.

    in reply to: I’m ok; my family is not #2547

    This is such a common situation, and very tricky! It is wonderful that you are thinking about how to ease your daughter’s experience of family member’s beliefs and comments. Some parents do distance from family members during the period of time when extended family is not yet aware, and so continues to express beliefs or ideas that are unintentionally hurtful. However, there are a couple things you can do to help your daughter feel loved and affirmed even in the face of these comments.

    1. If your daughter has not yet chosen to come out, you can speak up and respond to these comments in ways that are supportive of LGBTQ people (without outing her). For more information about this, see Speaking Up: Independent Actions.

    2. You can have the “people say stupid stuff” conversation with your daughter, as you mentioned. The benefit of speaking with her privately about what she may hear is to help her put the comments into perspective and avoid taking them personally. In other words, you can help her understand that these comments likely stem from an individual’s long-held, possibly unexamined ideas and and viewpoints, and may not have anything to do with feelings about her as an individual. It may also be helpful to reiterate that you do not agree with the statements and if she ever wants to discuss what she hears with you, you are open to doing that.

    in reply to: Therapist for LGBTQ+ youth and family? #2106

    Most training programs include multicultural training, which aims to increase therapists’ comfort and competence with clients who are of different cultures, religions, sexual orientations, or socioeconomic backgrounds. However, the National Alliance on Mental Illness offers these resources to find a therapist who will be affirming and effective with issues and concerns facing LGBTQ kids and their families:

    • The Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling offers a list of resources for LGBT individuals and works to educate counseling professionals on LGBT issues.
    • The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists offers numerous resources for LGBT people who are experiencing mental health conditions, including a directory of LGBT-friendly therapists.
    • The Center for American Progress offers a variety of resources, including a report called Why the Gay and Transgender Population Experiences Higher Rates of Substance Use.
    • The GLBT National Help Center provides multiple resources and access to a hotline and a youth chat line.

    in reply to: Am I gay because I was sexually abused? #2105

    The question you ask is important, as it is a step toward understanding how what you have experienced has shaped who you have become. Ultimately, you are the expert regarding who you are and why.

    Generally speaking, there are many people who are sexually abused who are not gay, and many LGBTQ individuals who were not sexually abused. There has not been a study that proves that childhood abuse leads to a shift in sexual orientation. Some studies suggest that there is larger percentage of abuse survivors in the LGBT community. Despite this, we cannot make assumptions that experiencing abuse led to being gay or the opposite, that being gay led to being abused. Of course, if an LGBTQ child is rejected by family or isolated from peers due to being perceived as “different,” it could be that the child is at a greater risk of being targeted by abusers who seek vulnerable children.

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