As a parent or caregiver, it can be difficult to know the right thing to say when kids question what we deem to be adult topics. Broaching topics of sexuality can be awkward for both parties, however, it is a necessary conversation to have.
When it comes to talking about anything outside of heteronormativity, children should be given age-appropriate information so they can better understand and empathize with others. Regardless of whether or not your child is LGBTQIA+, having a conversation about LGBTQIA+ issues will help reduce prejudice while teaching compassion and empathy.
When to Talk
It’s never too late to start a conversation on issues of sexuality with your children. While there may be initial discomfort and reluctance from preadolescent children and older, ultimately having these discussions with your children will help them develop a sense of safety and security with you, while it teaches them tolerance and acceptance.
For young children, the age of 3 is a good time to begin discussing these topics by sharing some basic information with them. It is never too early.
What to Say
On the younger side, keep the conversation simple and focus on basic concepts. When talking about homosexuality, you can explain to your child that just as a man and a woman can fall in love, so can a man with a man, and a woman with a woman. And some people identify as neither gender, or one individual is all genders. You can explain that how a person looks on the outside isn’t always how they feel on the inside. Refer to the familiar adage about “not judging a book by its cover.”
Speaking of books, don’t be shy in reaching out to trusted and child-focused comprehensive educational resources, like Cath Hakanson’s list at https://sexedrescue.com/sex-education-books-for-children/.
Children should understand the basic concept that even though people may look different than us, they are people just like we are and equally deserving of love, acceptance, and respect. Discussing these topics as neutrally as possible minimizes the chance that children will see it as a big deal.
You Don’t Have to Know Everything
Your child may have questions that you can’t answer. It’s okay to admit to your child when you don’t know the right answer. This could be a discussion point for later after you’ve done some research, or it could be a good opportunity for you to learn from your child. Or for computer-savvy kids, you could even use it as a teaching moment to show them where they can seek out reliable information on the internet.
Are you a parent in need of parenting advice and support? A trained, licensed mental health professional can help. Call my office today, and we can set up an appointment to talk.