Possibly one of the most dreaded questions or topics to come up for parents is when their child starts to question about sex, sexuality, or gender. There was a time when explaining that babies are brought to parents via storks, or boats, was enough… however, nowadays, with access to the internet, and the ability for a child to see diversity in their own society, this means that stories about storks and boats are no longer enough.
But how to know when to discuss these things with your children?
First things first, children will offer the opportunity themselves. They might tell you that someone has a boyfriend or a girlfriend in their group of friends, or that someone ‘likes’ someone else. Use these openings – ask them what boyfriends and girlfriends do together, what happens when someone ‘likes’ someone else. Keep it age-appropriate, and be casual and curious. By asking questions you can get a better understanding of what the child already knows, and you can easily step in to correct any misconceptions – while also showing that you’re willing to discuss these topics with them.
If your child might not be offering many openings or opportunities themselves, be curious about their friends and their families. Once they reach their teenage years, ask them if there are any children in their school who have come out, ask them if there’s a gay-straight alliance in their school, ask them whether the school speaks about such topics, ask them if any of their friends’ parents are gay or trans… your child may not really understand why you’re asking these questions, so be sure to defend them casually with phrases such as “I’m just asking” or “if we look at statistics, there should be quite a few gay people at school”.
In this blog we mentioned the two main ways of how to discuss such topics with children/teenagers. In the following blog we will explore some more ways to bring up the subject in a casual manner.
Mel McElhatton holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Malta. With Willingness, Mel does life coaching and is one of the facilitators in the IRL – In Real Life team. They are also the producer of the radio show Niddiskutu s-Sess. They can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.