As a parent, you may struggle with figuring out whether to have a talk about sex with your queer or LGBTQIA child(ren). They may have recently come out and you want to do your best, be supportive, and educate them about sexual health and wellness. There are things you can do right now that can have a huge impact in the long run. Here are six ways you can begin to start having a healthy sex conversation with your child(ren) of LGBTQIA.
Let Them Know They Are Loved
LGBTQIA+ youth around the world have difficulty coming out to their parents. According to Dr. Fields “ You’re their anchor, and your acceptance is key. In fact, research shows that LGBTQ adolescents who are supported by their families grow up to be happier and healthier adults.” This can also apply to certain milestones in a youth’s experience such as puberty and having the talk about sex. Pressure may be more intense because you now have to navigate their sexuality on top of understanding what is the appropriate thing to say in regards to safe sex.
Just a few things for all parents I want to highlight when planning out your discussion are:
Embrace them, accept them fully for who they are. Sometimes actions speak louder than words. If your child needs verbal and physical reassurance, definitely put that into practice by displaying affection and encouragement when you think is most critical. For example, if they are in a relationship, show how supportive you are, if they want to change their self-expression through clothes, or if you have any questions, definitely show interest and ask them. These little or big moments can really build a close bond when it’s time to discuss the ‘birds and the bees.’
Don’t dismiss, meaning if they have recently come out and you are confused and don’t initially understand, the last thing you should do is dismiss their feelings. Coming out is scary, and admitting you are in a same-sex relationship or expressing your identity can be hard. As a parent, take time to process and let your child’s declaration sink in. Sometimes it can be scary to try and understand their point of view. Definitely research more so you can grasp what they have said, dismissing the words can be a small-minded move.
It’s not something that needs to be fixed. You may think it could be a phase, that being a teenager is confusing with its hormones and falling in and out of love. However, learning that what they feel is valid and should be normalized can help your child feel secure in themselves. Your child is not broken, they are still the little babies you have cared for. Remember a time when you were navigating life as a kid, any experience with feeling something strong.
Just know that thinking it is a problem that should be fixed, is somewhat implying that you feel their confession is wrong. In regards to the other steps, you must not dismiss this, try to navigate it and embrace it wholeheartedly. Children look up to their parents and are putting trust in you to come out, know that you can learn more about your child just by being open-minded
Learn the Facts
Research is key to being able to understand gender and sexuality identity. There are several sites and groups out there that help parents understand what the LGBTQIA community is. Learning facts and information when it comes to queer identity, relationships, experiences, and sex can be the start to having intimate conversations with your child. This can help you feel prepared. Your child may understand their identity, they may still be figuring out the rest, but that doesn’t mean you can be one step ahead and have that sex talk.
Form Healthy Relationships
When your children become teens, it’s normal for them to take an interest in boys and girls. During puberty, it’s a crucial time trying to figure out who you are as a person, what your interests are, your goals, and forming friendships and dating. According to Dr. Fields, “Dating is daunting for most parents — especially parents of LGBTQ youth — but it’s an important part of adolescent development for all children.” Like any relationship, you want your child to be safe and happy.
Many parents are understandably concerned because they don’t want their children to be hurt or taken advantage of due to lack of experience or because of who they are. We all know that there are bullies out there. Running and hiding may be an immediate response to your worrying, but helping your child create healthy relationships with friends or potential love interests is essential. “By encouraging your kid to date in a way that’s healthy and age-appropriate, you send a powerful message,” says Dr. Fields. Sometimes letting our kids find their community through supportive friends, relationships and queer individuals can offer them bravery, encouragement, and understanding of who they are.
Safe Sex for All
Now, the sex talk can be terrifying for both the child and you. Having a talk about responsible safe sex can be embarrassing. You may have an understanding of LGBTQIA+ youth, however, LGTBQIA+ sex can be a whole other category to navigate. Whatever knowledge you have regarding sex can be a starting point to educate yourself.
There may be a scenario where your child has no clue about how sex works for them or if they are even interested in having an intimate relationship. However, part of your job is to explore with them, talk about what you already know, and what the child may know, and go from there.
One common point when it comes to sex is how to be safe. Yes, you want your child to eventually have a sex life and figure out for themselves what they want. However, preparing them with a basic understanding of safe sex practices and masturbation is a step in the right direction.
Remember to point out the positives and not just the consequences of sex. Let your child know the basic understanding of what sex is. Go at your own pace, discussing safe sex for your child and all kinds of scenarios don’t need to be said in one day. Take your time, and show that you can be a non-judgmental safe zone. If there are any questions your child will know to come to you.
Stay on Top of Social Media
Social media is one of the many platforms where children and young adults of LGBTQIA+ go to find their healthy safe spaces. There are groups and friends you can form through social media. There are also educational platforms that explain queer community, sexuality, safe sex, and more. However, with the good, there are always bad influences. Many individuals rely on social media through apps to meet others and establish friendships or relationships.
In order to protect your child, make sure it is a safe space for them. By keeping them safe and pointing them in a positive direction. For example, we know online bullying and offenders are on social media, make sure you teach your child or have them be aware and cautious and provide LGBTQIA+ youth an inclusive space to connect with friends and allies.
Find a Support Group
Whether you need assistance in understanding more about the LGBTQIA+ community, terms, resources, and sex education; support groups are always at your fingertips. Support groups for yourself and your child can help both have a better understanding of the LGBTQ community and to provide a space where you can be honest and forthcoming about things that confuse you and have your questions answered.
One place where you can find all that and more is the Trevor Project. “Remember, your child is having more difficulty with this than you are,” says Dr. Fields, “and your duty as a parent comes first.”
If you are struggling with finding out more information to help talk to your child, communities and organizations such as Trevor Project can help. Counseling, friend support, and resources are a few of the things they offer. Get a head start and prepare, go to https://www.thetrevorproject.org/ for more thorough information at your fingertips.
Having a healthy sex conversation and being a parent have its challenges, especially when you navigate your child’s growth and self-discovery. LGBTQIA+ youth is now at the forefront, support your child’s journey with these six ways. Six different perspectives and ideas to help guide you to healthy conversations such as coming out, sexuality and gender identity, and safe sex.