Blog// LGBT Adoption

How Gender Identity Comes Into Play With Parenting

Gender identity has become a popular topic lately and there is a lot of conflicting information on it. Right now, nobody can clearly define what pushes an individual toward a specific gender or why some people are more nonconforming when it comes to gender. Since there are conflicting reports coming from the scientific world, many people are left wondering how this affects the role of a parent.

The Gender Neutral Option

Gender neutral parenting has become popular in recent years. When this approach is used, the child is raised with minimal gender bias. This can be challenging because clothing and toys are often separated by gender in stores, but when it comes to gender neutral parenting, the focus is mainly on removing restrictions.

Instead of offering clothes, toys, or items associated with that child’s gender, let the child choose from the full spectrum of everything that is available. This could leave you left to decide how to handle heavily gendered gifts you receive, but basically, it is simple choice that offers the child options and enables them to express themselves. Your child can choose the kinds of clothes to wear and the kinds of toys to play with.

Expressing Gender Identity

While there is no definitive answer as to when children who are nonconforming to gender start noticing they are different, there are reports of children as young as age four saying that they would rather be a specific gender. Studies have revealed that the best approach to parenting a gender expansive or gender nonconforming child is through affirmative parenting. This approach involves focusing a strong positivity on the choices of the child. By being supporting and accepting of your child, they are comfortable and safe in the exploration of uncertainties and questions regarding their own gender. This allows a positive sense of themselves as they grow older.

When you are practicing affirmative parenting, you are going to run interference between the outside world, extended family, and your child. This means you must create an overall supportive environment, which ensures people who interact with your child are respectful of the gender expression of your child and don’t try to undermine the support you provide at home. Parents need to establish a zero-tolerance policy for negative comments, bullying, or pressure from the adults in the life of your child.

As your child grows older, you should continue this support. Keep an open communication policy that allows gender exploration to be a positive experience. This way, you will be able to recognize times when your child is stressing or needs assistance with questions regarding their situation.

You should never be hesitant to seek additional support in these situations. Counseling on the individual or family basis is an option and could help resolve challenging questions and offer the extra support you need. Outside help is sometimes necessary and it can be very beneficial to your situation. You want to make sure your child’s questions are answered and that they feel comfortable with themselves.

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