By Ashley Taylor
Part 1 of 3
This is the first article in a series that tackles one of the toughest issues that parents of LGBTQ+ children often face: how to establish open communication. In part one, you’ll learn about the importance of reflecting on your role as a parent and how that can affect interactions with your child.
Navigating the terrain of communication with your child is a process that can evolve as they grow and develop. Parents often struggle to adapt to the ever-changing needs of their child. Strategies that have worked well in the past may not work as well in the present. In today’s article, we’ll share information and tips to help you address some of the challenges you face when talking to your children about their gender or sexual orientation. We’ll also discuss how to overcome possible barriers and work on establishing clear and effective communication with your child.
Examine Your Role
What is your role as a parent? Is your instinct to “solve” your child’s problem? It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of activities and to-do lists and it can be difficult to focus our attention where it’s needed most. If you’re like me, it can feel more natural to prematurely jump into a planning and logistics mode versus just focusing on being present. A helpful question to bring you back to earth is asking yourself what your role as a parent is at that moment. For example, if your child is trans and they want to go swimming with their friends, you may immediately have concerns about the future event: What will they wear? How will they be perceived? What kind of conversations will they have with friends? Before asking your questions, remember to first pause and breathe.
Your role in this moment may be to just listen and be present with your child as they share their thoughts about going swimming. By not jumping immediately into logistics mode, you’re more likely to gather additional information about the support your child already has, and what they still need.. Take note of things like the support available in your child’s friends group, which friends your child has come out to, and if the pool is in a public facility or a private space.
After the conversation, make a note to do some additional research on subjects that will help you and your child better deal with the issue at hand. In this example, you could learn about body inclusive swimwear and what to be mindful of when navigating activities like swimming. Outplay, Tomboy X, and Rubies offer several options for affirming swimwear.
Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of this special series in which we’ll discuss other key factors to improve communication, such as addressing your own beliefs and emotions, doing research, and staying consistent.
Guest writer Ashley Taylor is a queer Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in anxiety, relationship challenges, and identity. They completed their Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Counseling and School Counseling from the University of New Mexico in 2016 and currently live in Round Rock, TX where they run their own counseling practice, Ashley Taylor Counseling. To learn more visit their website: https://www.ashleytaylorcounseling.com/