Talking to our kids about their lives is challenging. It doesn’t matter if we are helping them weather the social storms of middle school or preparing them for puberty and adolescence – we love them and we want what it best for them. Most of us are much to aware of our own shortcomings to trust ourselves to handle these conversations with any degree of competency, and yet we muddle through.
And if that’s not hard enough, sometimes we find ourselves having to talk to our kids about our junk; grown up junk that we would like to think they don’t need to be involved with, but deep down know that they are involved whether we like it or not.
A few weeks ago, my ex-wife and I met with our son (15) and daughter (10) at a counselors office to share more about the changes going on in my life. My son was aware of everything, but as more and more people in our social circles started talking, we wanted our youngest to hear it from us in a healthy way before she heard it at the lunch table from a “hostile provider of community news” (i.e. a bully and a gossip).
I did quite a bit of research before we had the conversation. I was looking for a sample conversation that a transgender person can have with their kid, but never found one. If you have stumbled on to the site looking for some direction as a transgender parent – this one is for you. If you came to the blog because you know one of our kids – this one is for you, too. If you came to the blog because you are one of my kids – you’ve already heard this, quit stalling and get your homework done!
The talk was primarily geared toward the 10 year old. The use of masculine pronouns was deliberate for her comfort level. She will have plenty of time to adjust to those types of changes. The conversation went well as far as the kids go and, while I continue to be sensitive to their minds and hearts in this process, I have am very reassured that they will be OK in the long run. There may be some therapy in their future, but I’m afraid that was a reality a long, long time ago!
Here is what we shared with them:
You have been seeing changes in dad over the last several months and we would like to talk to you more about those changes. Mom and I have been praying a lot and talking to other people about the best time to do this. One reason we have picked now is because we don’t want you to be stuck in an awkward spot if someone asks you questions about my hair or earrings or anything like that.
First of all I have a few questions for you:
Do you know the word Gender? Gender refers to the way a person is viewed or views themselves as either masculine or feminine.
Have you ever heard the word “transgender”? While most men see themselves as masculine and women see themselves as feminine – it doesn’t always work that way. Dad is one of those people who is more comfortable being feminine.
While most everyone I’ve met has been very supportive and encouraging, there are some challenges:
Many people in churches have different ideas about what the Bible says about this. That can cause them to have different reactions to people who think differently than they do.
Also, sometimes this causes people to not be so very nice – especially kids and the way they treat each other. I have put together some questions that you may get from some other kids. Remember that you NEVER have to put up with anyone making fun of you for any reason. If it becomes an issue, please tell a teacher or an adult right away and tell me or mom as soon as you can (send us a text).
Q&A for the Kids
Q: Why does your dad wear earrings?
A: He likes them
Q: Why does your dad have funny hair?
A: He’s just funny – and he likes it that way.
Q: Is your dad transgender?
Q: Is your dad a girl?
A: That’s complicated – and doesn’t really matter.
Q: Is your dad like Bruce Jenner?
A: No, he’s never been in the Olympics.
Q: Is you dad going to have a new name?
A: Yes, but to me his name will always be Dad.
Q: Is your dad still a Christian?
A: Yes, of course! He is very familiar with what the Bible teaches, studies it a lot and works hard to live by it.
Q: How does all this make you feel?
A: *only you can answer this, but Mom and I can always help you think about your answer.