As a parent, it is your job to be your child’s greatest ally in their identity development. In today’s world, parents must focus on nurturing their child’s physical and mental growth. But they also need to provide a trusting and respectful environment for their child to explore and develop their identity.
You are your child’s first ally, regardless of their age. The decision to come out and embrace an identity path that goes against social stereotypes is not easy. As such, parents must gain a deeper understanding of how they can help their child grow into a confident and self-loving individual.
The importance of allies
Having allies for those who are part of the LGBTQA+ community and anybody who doesn’t follow typical social identity stereotypes is incredibly important for healthy identity development. Allies act as a source of support. It is worth noting that gender fluid, LGBT+, and other social and sexual identity conformists often face discrimination, violence, and different forms of bigotry throughout their lives.
Allies can also become a source of information and comfort when young people start their identity journey. As a parent, you can help find mentors and role models to encourage your child to open up the doors to self-acceptance and self-growth.
You can also become your child’s first line of defense against oppression and criticism. You can stand up and shield them from unfair and cruel attacks and ensure they do not compromise their identity.
Why nurturing your child’s mental and physical development matters
Your child’s mental and physical development established the foundation of their identity quest. Therefore, parents play a crucial role in creating a safe space for children to grow emotionally and explore without feeling judged or pressured. This can mean something as simple as building mutual respect and trust.
A parent is a figure of authority, and many parents struggle to create an environment that maintains their authority while respecting their child’s opinions and priorities. So, mutual trust and respect begin with being emotionally present and setting clear expectations on both sides. When it comes to establishing rules, such as explaining why some behaviors are unacceptable, parents need to be honest. Too often, the risk of having double standards, such as parents being blind to their own behavioral mistakes, can affect your child’s emotional development. This can destroy trust between you, which means you can never be an ally for your child.
How to find additional support
A safe family unit is important. But parents can only do so much to empower their kids. Mental health providers are dedicated to offering a safe and non-judgmental space for LGBTQA+ people to explore their identities and build resilience. Therapy can also be a great tool to access additional resources that can provide guidance for many challenges:
- Coming out plans
- Identifying discrimination and fighting it
- Ensuring academic or professional results
- Processing difficult experiences
- Reaching out to groups of people with the same interests
Therefore, helping your child find a therapist they can trust and build a rapport with can be instrumental in developing their identity. Mental health is incredibly important for this community which is at higher risk of depression, anxiety disorder, and even suicide.
Accepting and loving your child as they are
Do parents have dreams when they expect a child? The answer is yes. Most parents picture how their adult child would be. Of course, children develop into a person of their own, meeting their own expectations rather than yours.
This is why parents must accept that their dream child is not real. If you struggle to let go of your dream to embrace your child and support them through their identity journey, you could damage your relationship with them. As a parent, you have no say over your child’s identity. Your role is to love them as a person without expressing judgment, criticism, or expectations about who they should be. As an ally, you love them for who they are, not for who you thought they should be.
Educate yourself about their interests
Staying informed and engaged with your child’s interests can make you a better ally in their identity development. The more you learn about their community, the more you can appreciate the challenges they face and the dreams they have. Besides, this means you and your child can have open conversations about their day-to-day plans, whether they are attending a transgender meeting or applying for a new position. Nobody expects you to become an expert. But understanding life as a member of the LGBTQA+ community can help you retain their trust.
Indeed, a lot of parents claim to accept their child’s identity. But, in reality, they do not want to hear about this part of their life. Someone who tolerates different loving and living and someone who fully supports and empowers their child are not the same.
Are you ready to become an ally for your child?