How can parents deal with LGBTQ+ children's mental health?
Going through the process of discovering gender and knowing ourselves is difficult. Children who are going through this process and coming out to others will be a challenging job. It might cause anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. It is up to the parents to make children feel okay about being "different" or "coming out". Is it as easy as we write? I am sure it is not. But it is our responsibility to support children who are facing more challenges in the process of growing. Every child has the right to be happy and cherish their childhood irrespective of what gender they are. Children who identify as LGBTQ+ encounter similar obstacles as other children, but they may face additional challenges.
In the honor of Pride month, let's parents help children to go through the process of discovering themselves more smoothly. Here are a few tips on how to assist them.
- Gain knowledge about the vocabulary, laws, and policies at local, state, and national levels about the LGBTQ+ community.
- Encouraging discussions about LGBTQ+ communication. And talking about LGBTQ helps children feel more open and secure.
- Give freedom for children to express themselves. Let them choose how they dress and what pronouns and names to use. And respect their choices.
- Listen with care and affection when your child talks about their identity. Make sure your child knows that you support and love them no matter what.
Self-education is necessary
Gaining knowledge about LGBTQ+ laws and policies at the local, state, and national levels. There are many online resources that help to know more about the LGBTQ+ community. Learn all the vocabulary, and terms and consider what kind of support, and facilities are needed for the children. Not only educate yourself but also educate your children about the LGBTQ+ community. This makes children feel more comfortable talking about their gender.
Starting a conversation about LGBTQ. Or asking about their sexual orientation helps them to talk more openly. Show some interest and affection whenever there's a discussion about LGBTQ. Support your child's LGBTQ identity irrespective of what you feel. Parents that being helpful does not necessitate any special knowledge or experience, only a desire to listen with empathy. Show your affection and respect for what they create. You don't have to understand everything that a child goes through to show them you care, and respect their identity. Parents should recognize their feelings and help them to overcome them. Giving little respect can change a lot in children's life.
Freedom to express
Give freedom for children to express themselves. Let them dress, and show themselves as they wish. Respect their preferences in terms of vocabulary, names, and pronouns. According to a survey conducted in 2021, having all members at home use their preferred names, and pronouns help to reduce half the suicide rate and reduce mental illnesses, especially for transgender and no binary children.
Listen with attention and care
If a child comes and talks to you about their identity. Listen to them with affection and care. Use your words carefully. Children might start a conversation about LGBTQ to know your reaction and response. You don't have to entirely comprehend what a youngster is going through to show them that you believe them and that their feelings are valid. What matters is that you strive to recognize your child's emotions. So, it is important to be tolerant and show acceptance of whatever they talk about. They feel safer and secure if you talk willingly about LGBTQ. Be empathetic and sympathetic while listening. The language you use is also important because it might strengthen or dispel their comfort of talking about LGBTQ depending on your response.
Know your children's needs
Ask your children what they need. Talk about their feelings and ask them what makes them feel supported. Inquiring about a child's specific needs is a straightforward method to demonstrate acceptance of their entire person, not just their identification. It helps children to feel more secure and comfortable about themselves.
Allow yourself some time and space
It is not only children who face problems but also parents. When a child discloses their sexual identity. It will take a toll on parents too. Parents may experience a mixture of feelings. This happens due to a sudden change of things. The dreams or future of your child you envisioned may change entirely. Fear of the prejudice or discrimination of your children you may face. But, the important thing is what you feel and how you care about your children and yourself. So, a parent needs to take time and space for themselves until they organize their thoughts on the subject. It may take time to accept the change.
It is natural to feel anxiety or depression due to a change in life. To both children and parents. Seeking help with providing both of you on how to tackle the situation and to know how to support your children. Seeking help helps to accept the change and to adapt to be able to change.