When approaching any new subject with my kids, I always tend to wing it and just speak from my heart. But as my kids are getting older, their questions are becoming more sophisticated and thoughtful, which has prompted me to be more prepared for topics that deserve a thorough explanation. When considering how to explain LGBTQ families to your kids, I think the best method is blending the facts with heart. Using real world examples while stirring in your personal beliefs and feelings gives your kids a model for how to navigate new information.
It's not just enough to explain what LGBTQ is — parents need to talk about their own feelings so children know it's safe to ask questions or express their thoughts openly with you. Keeping the lines of communication open is essential to weaving the LGBTQ community into current events and giving your kids a frame of reference when historic events occur, like legalizing same sex marriage. The best part is, the earlier you start having these conversation with your kids, the stronger foundation they have to comprehend new and more complicated information on the subject.
Don't wait until your kids are curious and come to you, get ahead of the topic before someone else explains LGBTQ families to your kids. Use these nine ideas to spark a conversation with children that foster love and acceptance of all humans.
1. Define It
When defining things for kids, it's always important to keep things simple. As the website for the Human Rights Campaign pointed out, break down the acronym to define what each part of the term LGBTQ means, so kids are clear on what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. This is your stepping stone to further conversation.
2. Drop Some Info, Then Wait
Just like adults, kids of all ages need time to process new information. What I like to do for my kids is break info into digestible bites. Give them small bits, a little at a time, then let them process. Doing this allows kids time to come up with questions and thoughts on their own. And trust me, if you keep that door to communication open, they will come back to you with what they have been thinking, which gives you more opportunities to delve in deeper.
3. Normalize It
Giving kids examples of things that are familiar to them can help them normalize new situations. Comparing LGBTQ families with the heterosexual family model is a good place to start, according to Psychology Today. Explain that kids of LGBTQ parents also have have two parents who love them, because in the end, it's all family.
4. Prepare Them For Backlash
Unfortunately, not all people have open hearts and minds when it comes to the LGBTQ community. When discussing this topic with your kids, make sure to be honest in saying that some people may say some hurtful things about people who identify LGBTQ, as the The Washington Post pointed out. Make the point that this behavior is inappropriate and not what you believe.
5. Use People You Know As Examples
Whether it's someone in your family, circle of friends, or neighborhood, use LGBTQ people your children know as examples of how they are no different from anyone else, and deserve rights and respect. Point out how you love those people just as much as any other family member, friend or neighbor.
6. Go To A Pride Parade
Taking kids to a pride parade is a full immersion experience, and preparing in advance will help you make the most of this outing. The website Out 901, which is a website for the Memphis LGBTQ community, provides some tips for attending a pride parade with kids, such as arriving early and finding as many teachable moments as possible.
7. Use Public Examples
8. Read About It
Having books to help you explain things is always an awesome resource. Get your hands on some kids books that explain the LGBTQ community is a wonderful thing to celebrate.
9. Frame With Love
As with any conversation on diversity, I like to tell my kids that it all comes down to love. They may meet people with a different skin color than them, or someone who is attracted to different people than they are, but we are all different in beautiful ways. Diversity is a wonderful thing, and at the center of sharing the world with tons of different people is a shared love for life and one another. The only way people being scared of what is different will change, is if we can teach children to love the things that make everyone different.