• Sexuality and Gender Identity Concerns | Sarah Sproule | Episode 144

  • Male, female, sexuality and gender identity concernsTalking to our kids about sex and sexuality can be difficult or uncomfortable, and it doesn’t end with “The Talk”. You aren’t broken if you don’t know how to talk to your kid about puberty, bodies and sex. Feeling awkward and unsure just means you haven’t been shown how to talk or given the right information to talk about. When that conversation moves into consent, sexuality, or gender identity many parents are at a total loss. What if my child tells me they’re LBGTQ? What do I do? How to I traverse this conversation? How do I support them properly? What if we don’t see eye-to-eye on this? Find out how to talk to your teenager about sexuality, especially when it involves gender identity and LGBTQ concerns. Mighty Parenting podcast host Sandy Fowler has a very candid conversation with sexuality expert Sarah Sproule. They cover everything from when to have conversations about sexuality to navigating the conversation when your child’s views differ from your own.


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    A Favorite Quote from the Show: 

    “Listening is really important. It can be incredibly difficult for a child to tell a parent things they know differ from our values and views. We are honoring and loving them simply by listening.”

    High Points From Our Conversation About Sexuality and Gender Identity Concerns:

    Quote on listening when our kids talk about sexuality and gender identity concernsHaving a sexuality is a complex part of being human and parenting someone who is developing a sexual self is even more complex. Compassion is the starting point—compassion for the child and self-compassion for the parent. 

    Most parents have some level of discomfort in discussing sexuality. This primarily comes from things we were taught as children. Many of us come from communities where sexuality is seen as something secretive, maybe a little dirty or even scary. These stories create a lot of thoughts and judgement about sex.

    Talking about sexuality is an amazing opportunity to give our children permission to be themselves. We can help them become a confident, kind, caring person who respects themselves and others.

    There are so many chances to feel ashamed, embarrassed or worried about who they are. If we  want to raise a person who feels lovable, who believes they are worthy of respect, then we can use our influence with our child to show them no matter who they are, no matter what their body looks like, or who they love, they are worthy of love and respect and we are here to support them.

    This helps them know they need to respect others in return. And this is where consent comes in as well.

    If parents let this conversation slide then our kids are more likely to be impacted by the messages around them. There are many messages in our world saying there is a right way to be—messages about one-night stands, when it’s okay to have sex, who it’s okay to have sex with, etc, All these messages come at our kids. If they align with who our child is then our child generally moves through it okay. If we have a child who doesn’t feel those messages fit them then it can harm them.

    The conversation gets difficult when, as a child works out who they are, their beliefs don’t mesh with a parent’s beliefs.

    Sometimes, as our child begins to work out who they are, they discover they enjoy encounters that are in competition with what you believe. If they do them in consensual and kind ways and no-one gets hurt, this is when we ask ourselves, “Can I still support my child and remind them they are worthy of love and affection and they are still close to my heart or do I need to go with what I believe is right for everybody on the planet?” And this is a difficult place for a parent to find themselves.

    Each of us have our own beliefs and we aren’t going to line up 100% with our children on every belief we have. When it comes to sex and sexuality, it can also tie into spiritual beliefs which complicates things further.

    The parent can feel judged. The child can feel judged. The solution begins with compassion.

    It’s like any difficult conversation. There are general, broad guidelines that help in difficult conversations.

      • Respect differences.
      • Listen
      • Say what is true for us in a way where we honor what is true for us and still honor the idea that other people have different experiences and different beliefs.

    Neurodiversity impacts sexuality. It impacts when and how we want to be touched.

    “Look, this is what’s true for me. I see that you need something else and I respect and love you for who you are.”

    Listening is really important. It can be incredibly difficult for a child to tell a parent things they know differ from our values and views. We are honoring and loving them simply by listening.

    We’re working together to find our way forward with love and respect. 

    As our children grow up they will live their lives as their gorgeous selves. That can challenge us and our beliefs.

    How do my beliefs sit with what my child is doing now? 

    It becomes this mind-bending chance to grow as a parent.

    Can I still support my child who is discovering who they are when it doesn’t fit my beliefs or do I need to go with what I believe is right for every human on the planet?

    Having difficult conversations:

      • Respect your differences
      • State what is true for us (this means acknowledging that people in the world may not have the same experience or the same body)
      • Listen to their experiences

    Remember, it can be very hard for our child to share their beliefs and experiences with us. Honor the courage it takes to talk to us.

    Our children can make us look at hard thing and even challenge our beliefs.

    There can be an incredible amount of emotional pain if our children are LGBTQ. LBGTQ youth contemplate suicide at 3 times the rate of heterosexual youth and are almost 5x as likely to attempt suicide due to the emotional pain.

    If our child comes to us to tell us they are LGBTQ, we can applaud our parenting and the relationship we have which allows this level of trust and communication.

    Take a moment to feel proud of them and to remember your child:

      • Will be feeling very vulnerable as they share something deeply, intrinsically central to who they are
      • Has a massive need for reassurance and an expression of love

    We can do this by saying:

      • “Thank you for telling me. I feel honored you told me that.”
      • “I love you so much. I’ve loved you since you were born.”

    Listen. Pay attention with ears, mind, and body language.

    Ask, “What do you need from me?” 

    We sometimes jump to the conclusion there is something wrong and they need help. They may need nothing. They may just be coming to tell us, to bring us fully into their world and to be known by the parent who loves them.

    There are core skills in parenting. While some parts of parenting may feel more complicated than other parts, the core skills will come to bat for us every time. Communication is one of those skills.

    Resources Mentioned in Show:

    Resolving Differences | Jude Bijou | Episode 132

    Our Guest Sarah Sproule:

    Sarah Sproule talks about sexualitySarah Sproule is an occupational therapist who talks about sex.

    Using her masters in sexuality studies, Sarah supports families, young people and adults to grow into sexually healthy people in consensual and unique ways. 

    Originally from Melbourne Australia, she works online in  Dublin, Ireland finding solutions to awkwardness, stress and pain. Sarah travels Ireland-wide to deliver health-focused, sexuality education for primary schools and other organisations that care about children. 

    Sarah is dedicated to supporting comfortable conversations about the intimate parts of peoples’ lives and is no stranger to the pain of grief, loss and love. 

    To learn more or connect with our guest visit SarahSproule.com 

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