Not Like Other Boys: Growing Up Gay: A Mother and Son Look Back

I was married with 2 kids when I realized I'm gay
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While some of the parenting behaviors discussed in this section may be challenging for some parents to implement, it is important to take whatever steps you can to demonstrate to your child that you are with them on this journey.


The ability to make the home a sanctuary of security and support for your child is the single most important factor in promoting lifelong health and well-being for your child. Such an environment creates a buffer for your child from the hardships they may face outside of the home. If this is the case, seek help from an empathetic, knowledgeable counselor who provides gender-affirmative care and support. It is imperative with immediate and extended family that you require and accept only kindness and respect for your child. What does this look like? It means allowing them to choose, without pressure or unspoken messages, the clothes they wish to wear, how and with whom they play, their favorite toys, the accessories they favor, the manner in which they wear their hair, and the decorations and images with which they surround themselves.

Explain the rules and their rationale; it is important to ask your child questions about their desire to make an exception to your rule so that you understand the importance their request has. In this way you may be able to help your child to find other ways to meet their needs. If, for instance, your child is asking for makeup to minimize the look of secondary sex characteristics e. It means discussing any negative or conflicting feelings you are struggling with over their gender with other adults, not with your child. A concrete way to demonstrate ongoing support and acceptance for your child is to tolerate absolutely no negative comments about your child, from anyone, whether your child is with you or not.

This may also mean needing to follow up with the school about negative comments made by other parents, children, or school staff.

By demonstrating to your child that you are a partner in this process and showing a genuine sense of inquisitiveness about how they see themselves, what they think, and what they are experiencing, you show your child that you are there for them. It should not be surprising that many of the children who end up in the foster care system, run away, or become homeless are gender-expansive and transgender; rejected at home, they find themselves with few options for support.

Refusing to accept your child as they are and behaving in an unkind, punitive, or disrespectful manner communicates to your child a lack of value or worth. As you read the list below, try to also have compassion toward yourself. Most, if not all, parents have demonstrated these behaviors at one time or another. We each can only start from where we are. One of the most damaging things you can do is verbally or physically abuse your child.

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If these types of feelings come up for you, acknowledge them and get help and support from a trained therapist to work through the feelings creating these impulses. The urge to avoid being embarrassed by your gender expansive child sends a message of shame and implies change is required in order to be a member of the family. Preventing your child from seeing gender-expansive friends and allies or participating in activities that affirm them in their gender will only generate a sense of isolation and significantly increase risk factors.

Saying that your child deserves the mistreatment they encounter simply for being who they are is incredibly dangerous, an implicit message that they are to blame for the cruelty of others. When you speak or treat your child with disrespect, or allow others to, it shows them that they cannot count on you for the love and protection they desperately need. Telling your child that God disapproves of their gender, or will punish them because of who they are, greatly increases their health and mental health risks and can remove a vital source of solace.

When your child sees that they are causing you great distress and shame, they internalize this pressure. Insisting your child remain silent about their gender tells them that there is something inherently wrong with them. Even when motivated by a desire to protect your child, asking them to mask who they are indicates there is something fundamentally wrong with who they are.

For some children, expressing gender-expansiveness may be a phase; for others, it is not.

Inventory Detail: Not Like Other Boys: Growing Up Gay : a Mother and Son Look Back

Only time will tell. We suggest using the concept of insistence, consistence and persistence to help determine if a child is truly gender-expansive or transgender. The longer and more insistently that a child has identified as the opposite gender, a combination of genders, or neither gender, the easier it becomes for a parent to know. Regardless of the eventual outcome, the self-esteem, mental well-being, and overall health of a child relies heavily on receiving love, support and compassion from their parents no matter where they are on their gender path.

If your child has identified as the opposite gender since early childhood, it is unlikely they will change their mind. Most people have some sense of their Gender identity between the ages of two and four years old. For most, this awareness remains stable over time. There are cases when a young child who strongly identifies with the opposite gender does change their mind.

The most common time for this to occur is about years old. There is insufficient research to know if these children later identify as gender-expansive or transgender adults. So, it is unclear if this change indicates that the child has learned to hide their true self, or if it was indeed just a childhood phase.

Another typical time for gender identity to come into question is at puberty.

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Many teens who have never exhibited anything outside the norm in their Gender expression or identity, start feeling differently as puberty approaches. Again, look to the concept of insistence, consistence and persistence to determine if a child is truly gender-expansive or transgender. Though these are two common times for gender identity to come up for children, they are certainly not the only times.

A child at any age, even to adulthood, can start feeling differently about their gender identity or expression. Many parents feel a combination of positive and negative feelings. This is a hard road for parents, and even though we may not have chosen this for our child or ourselves, it is our road to navigate. You are not alone in your feelings or in your experience of raising a gender-expansive child.

It can be very helpful and comforting to seek support from other parents or from a mental health professional.

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It is common for parents to blame themselves when a child falls outside of gender norms. Fathers may be angry and refuse to accept their gender-expansive child, especially if this child was born a boy. Gender diversity is not an illness or a result of poor parenting. It is not the result of divorce or an indication of child abuse. It is normal. You did not cause this or do anything wrong. Another common feeling is that of loss. Even though the child is alive and well, a socially recognized gender change can elicit strong feelings of losing the person we thought we knew.

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One of the biggest challenges to raising gender-expansive kids is learning to live with uncertainty. Parents feel more empowered to help their child if they know where their child will end up. Many children and adults feel like they are both genders, neither gender, or go back and forth.

They have already arrived at their final destination, which is a space outside typical gender constructs. Or, they may still be figuring it out. It is important for us to follow their lead, and let them figure out who they are at their own pace.

Not Like Other Boys Growing Up Gay A Mother And Son Look Back

In alternating voices, this frank memoir chronicles the long journey mother and son took from a relationship of concealment and shame about Chris's homosexuality to one of acceptance and love. Not Like Other Boys: Growing Up Gay: A Mother and Son Look Back [Marlene Shyer] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. By offering different.

Finding language that works for your child and yourself can be a big help in dealing with uncertainty. With older children, this can mean discussing together how they would like for you to refer to them, both directly as well as when you are speaking with others. Everyone has a gender story, including us parents. Every person in our society has been affected by gender norms, either positively or negatively, in their lives.

Gender norms and expectations are different now than when we were growing up and will continue to change. What assumptions do we make about gender based on how we were raised and the messages we received? Are these the only way to think about gender? By doing this, we may inadvertently place siblings in a position of choosing loyalties to us or to their gender-expansive sibling.

This can be a problem when a child continues to believe he or she is, or wishes he or she was, the other sex. Because it is not usually possible for people to change their sex at least until they are grown up and then it is very difficult it is very important that they can be happy with themselves as they are.

When Your Child Won't Talk to You

Sometimes parents worry that children who go on dressing in the clothes of the other sex over a long period of time will be homosexual. Even though homosexuality is widely accepted as a normal expression of sexuality for some people, parents may worry that their children will be unhappy or may feel uncomfortable about it themselves. And some people in our community do still behave in homophobic ways. If you are worried about this, talk to a doctor or child counsellor about it. Note : Sometimes a child does not want to dress up in clothes of the other sex but a boy may like to take a piece of his mother's underclothes to bed with him for comfort.

This is usually not because he is unhappy about his sex, but he may be feeling worried or stressed and having something of his mother's to cuddle makes him feel better. A girl may want to have something of her father's close by. Looking for the cause of the stress and dealing with it often helps with this.. Think about how old your child is, how long it has been going on and how important it is for the child.

Have there been any stresses in your child's life - a new baby in the family for instance? Does the child have an opportunity to be with loving adults of his or her own sex to learn about what it is like to be that sex? Has anyone been trying to stop the child from dressing up - and perhaps making him feel worse by calling him names such as "sissy" or teasing or making hurtful comments to her? If it is just dressing up play you can be sure that this is healthy. Make sure there are plenty of interesting dress up clothes for both sexes. For a boy, get some attractive male dress up clothes such as silk superman cloaks with stars on them, circus performers, or wizards as well as fairy costumes and jewellery.

For a girl make sure that she has clothes that are not all 'pretty dresses' or very feminine. There are female superheroes too. Teasing or name calling never helps. Children are likely to think they are what parents or other family members call them, and then to act like that. Email Newsletter. Log In. Toggle navigation MENU.

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Not our job, even with our children, especially as they get older. A child at any age, even to adulthood, can start feeling differently about their gender identity or expression. I encourage you to read more here, look at my website's resources page and especially look at the video courses. Most schools recognize this fact, and many are adopting programs and policies to create environments that do not allow or tolerate bullying. There is a special link below. However, we can help our children to have a healthy, positive sense of themselves in relation to their gender. Brian Smith writes hard-hitting gonzo features for MEL, whether it be training with a masturbation coach, receiving psycho corporal treatment from a spank therapist, or embarking on a week-long pleasure cruise with 75 Santa Clauses following their busy season.