“Stop letting awful parents put these labels on young children! It is going to destroy their lives!” We hear some version of this every day. What these people don’t realize is that it is not the parent who is doing anything, it is the child driving the vast majority of these conversations.
Gender identity and orientation are complex issues and it can be especially difficult and confusing when your child is young. But the best response can be surprisingly simple. 🙂
A Mom contacted me recently, and I wanted to share our interaction…
My 8-year-old daughter asked me today if she is gay because she wants to kiss girls more than she wants kiss boys. My husband thinks she is just confused and too young to know what she wants. My question is: can a child this young know what their preferences are? I myself have thought for years that she may be bisexual or a lesbian, but I never thought anything of it until she asked me. Any information would be grateful so I can make sure I can always support my child with whatever path she follows in life.
Thank you, Jane
Well, yes, children often know this very early. I know that idea can be very hard – sounds like it’s hard on your husband. How you should respond might be simpler than you think. 🙂
I would recommend you affirm whatever she is telling you about herself, and let it emerge. If she’s asking whether she is, you can tell her that only she will know, and if she doesn’t know now, she’ll know later. There’s no rush to sort it out.
I would affirm her and who she is saying she is, and leave room for her to bloom.
If she isn’t, great, if she is, great.
Either way, shame or trying to steer her into a different direction will have negative, often tragic effects.
Either way, affirming her will allow her to become who she was meant to be.
You are courageous to write me and ask my opinion. It would be so easy just to shut her down, but it would hurt her. So, good job, Mama.
Love to you on your journey,
We have ‘pay-what-you-want’ video courses helping parents love, accept & affirm their LGBTQI children; helping those in the faith community be more loving & fully inclusive; and helping LGBTQI heal shame from family, church & community wounds. We also have private Facebook support groups for parents, and other resources. Please click here.