Christmas is a time of family gatherings, well usually it is but this is 2020 and we are in the middle of a pandemic! Let’s put that aside and consider that during the holidays we have time with our families to sit and share stories and we have time to answer questions that our children bring up. My husband tells the story of waiting in a ferry line-up and knowing at 6 years old that this was the perfect time to ask his Mom about the birds and the bees. He had questions and wanted answers.
If children in your life came to you with questions about sexual orientation or gender identity, would you be prepared to answer? When my daughter Emily was 4 years old, she asked our Nanny if girls could marry girls and boys could marry boys. Our astute Nanny answered that yes they could as long as they really loved each other. We were so pleased with her response and confirmed that we felt the same way.
We have discussed LGBTQIA2S+ terms and definitions in the eNews articles these past few months and this is the first place to start. Understand what you are going to talk about and then here are some tips on how to talk to your children:
1) Start early
- Make it age-appropriate
- Leave the door open for future conversations
- Try to determine what your child is actually asking
- Listen for what they already understand
3) Be honest
- Answer questions truthfully
- Let them know if you don't know anything
- Encourage them to keep asking questions
- Learn together
4) Ongoing discussion
- Re-engage your child in discussions as situations arise
- Use media or life experiences to help
5) Age-appropriate information
Here are some suggestions:
- This age group understands simple, concrete answers to questions
- Only address the specific question asked
- At this age, children are beginning to explore and understand who they are
- Their questions will be more complex and therefore the answers need to be more comprehensive as well
- Emphasize respect and values in treating all people equally
- Ask how they feel about circumstances where they witness bullying for
- As children become teenagers, they understand more about their own
sexual orientation and gender identity and they also are aware of that of
- Questions at this age may be a tool to determine how you might react to
- Really listen to what they are asking and ask how they feel about the
- Try to limit any form of judgment especially until you have an
understanding of how your child feels
Jesus lived in a time when women and children were commodities to be bought and sold yet he welcomed the children to come to him and told his disciples that children modeled the way we should all approach life, without judgment, with questions and comments and open love for all.
He welcomed women into his closest circles and encouraged them to sit and listen and partake in discussions. If you want to know how to talk to your child, ask yourself “What would Jesus do? What would Jesus say?” His answer would be full of love and acceptance.
May we follow in his footsteps!