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Talking with your children about sexuality and gender

In a guest blog for Shout Trapped in ‘The Covid Closet’ and texting for support, Shout Volunteer and mental health advocate Alexis Caught wrote about how many LGBTQ+ adults recall how their parents “didn’t mention anything related to sexuality [...] growing up because they were worried about putting on ‘pressure’” or because they were waiting for their children to “tell them in their own time”.

While this can often come from a place of good intentions, opening up conversations about sexuality and gender early on can help foster an open family environment where children can feel safe to ask questions, express their deepest feelings, and make a positive difference to children’s mental health growing up.

Lia, a Clinical Supervisor from Shout 85258 shares some of her tips and ideas you can use to help you when talking with your children about sexuality and gender:

  • Prepare yourself. Are you open to talking about those issues? If not give yourself some time to reflect on what you find difficult.

  • Acknowledge that it might be tough to talk about some issues but your children are brave to openly share their thoughts with you.

  • Listen carefully, openly and without judgement.

  • Try not to argue and instead respect each others’ opinions.

  • Be caring. Tell them you love them for who they are and you are there for them.

  • Validate them. Young people explore and often question their sexuality. Tell them it is ok and you are there to discuss their thoughts and concerns.

  • Connect. Remember how you would like others to respond when you are sharing something very personal.

  • Be supportive. Ask how you might support them or what they might need from you.

  • Foster an honest environment. Emphasise that they can be honest with you and there is no need to keep secrets.

  • Be open to talk again.

You can find more tips and resources from some of our trusted partners, Switchboard LGBT and Mermaids.

If you are struggling to cope and need someone to talk to about how you’re feeling, you can text SHOUT to 85258 for free, confidential support, 24/7.

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