Recently I was directed to a blog Raising My Rainbow. A mother writes about her gender non-conforming son. What struck me the most is how accepting she and the boy’s dad are of their son as he is. They aren’t trying to make him into something he isn’t. It got me thinking more about that level of acceptance in children, not just LGBT children but all children. The overweight child, the child with the learning disability, the non-athletic child, the list can go on and on. Parents want the best for their children, but sometimes in that effort they push their children to be something that they aren’t. This leads to self doubt which can lead into other things such as anxiety and depression. There was recent research that showed that parents that accepted their LGBT children had children with better outcomes. Duh! But at that same time it again goes back to the overall importance of parental acceptance.
Take this opportunity to look at your child and see what you might be trying to change about him/her. It may not be something you are very conscious of. It may be that you want a happy child and you try to make your child happy even when they need to be sad or angry. I work a lot with children and adolescents and they all want their parent’s acceptance and they all want to be listened to. In parent’s effort to protect their children from bad, they talk more then they listen. Listen. Try a conversation with your child where you just listen and acknowledge their feelings without trying to change them or their feelings. It will be hard but it can establish the open and trusting relationship that helps kids move successfully into adulthood.
Lisa, you are so right.
Sarah, I am so glad to hear that parents have been able to change their behaviors after hearing about this study. I look forward to their longer term work in the future, getting this information out there on a wider level.
I have read your blog and others by parents of gender non-conforming children and admire your courage. It takes a lot for a parent to let their child be themselves in a way that can lead them to teasing or bullying.
What a lovely post, thank you. The study you referred to, by the Family Acceptance Project, showed what we intuitively know–that family support helps kids turn out mentally and physically healthy, and family rejection causes all sort of harm. I’ve interviewed parents (I write about raising gender-nonconforming children) who have told me that they changed their parenting style after learning the results of this study, and their children’s health markedly improved. Asthma gone, anxiety lessened, tummy aches resolved…it’s rather stunning. Anyway, thank you for talking about this!
I think we all wish to be accepted: at work, by our spouses, our government. Why wouldn’t kids be the same? Thanks for this important reminder.