The world around us is changing–slowly–for the better. People around the world are becoming more accepting of members of the LGBTQ+ community. But the best way to make a better future for all is to teach the future how to be more accepting. So for all you parents out there, here are a few ways to show your kids how to be better LGBTQ+ allies.
Challenge gender norms
Say your son or daughter comes home from school, and they’re telling you about their new classmate, a boy who likes to wear dresses or a girl with short hair who likes to play with trucks. Let them know that this is acceptable, but also let them know that if they wanted to do those things that would also be okay.
Children who come from traditional households are confused when they see or meet someone who doesn’t conform to gender norms–whether that’s when they are five or fifteen. The best road to take is to teach them to be accepting of people for who they are, not who they want them to be.
The anti-bullying conversation
Perhaps it’s better to say that parents have multiple conversations about bullying to their kids over the years, but make one of those talks be about LGBTQ+ youth experience and how bullying is, unfortunately, a part of it.
Teaching your children empathy and how to look at the world from someone else’s shoes gives them emotional intelligence. Let your kids know how to be kind, but to also know to stand up for injustice and be LGBTQ+ allies when they see it and how to do it safely.
You want your kids to feel like they can come to you and tell you anything. Having a secret–whether it’s their’s or a friend’s–can feel like they are carrying the weight of the world. Build trust with your child that no matter what you will keep their secrets and not get mad (you’re the adult in this relationship).
But also teach them to keep their friend’s secrets. Many members of the LGBTQ+ community are not out, and they have their own personal reasons why. Teaching kids that it’s never okay to out someone who isn’t ready can save everyone from painful mistakes with serious consequences.
They copy your actions, not your words
You can tell your child to do their homework until you’re blue in the face. But if they see you working, chances are they’ll pull up a chair alongside and do their homework next to you. Children copy our actions, not our words. This applies to standing up for injustice.
If your kids see you standing up for someone who is being mistreated in public, they will be totally embarrassed at the scene you caused, but after the dust settles, they’ll recognise how important it is to stand up for others.
Books, films, and TV shows can explain concepts that children don’t understand. There are a range of entertainment that feature LGBTQ+ characters, and with that are examples of good and bad allyship. Read and watch with your kids and discuss the difference between the two.
Donate to LGBTQ+ causes
Kids raise money for all different things throughout the year. Both of you can come up with a fundraising project to benefit an LGBTQ+ cause–and let you child choose the charity.
Get their opinion
Things happen in the news all the time, have a grown-up conversation and talk to your kids about it. For kids to be allies, they need to reflect on current issues. Ask their opinion, their answers might surprise you.
Attend a pride event
Attending pride celebrations can be an exciting outing for a family, and are a lot of fun for kids. Pride exposes them to all different kinds of people and shows kids how to be LGBTQ+ allies, sometimes solidarity is showing up in a force of support.
Boycott businesses that do harm
If you’re boycotting a brand or business and your child wonders why; be honest. Explain why what’s happened is wrong and what these actions hope to accomplish.
Don’t expect praise
Perhaps the trickiest one for last: teaching your child to never expect praise or reward for doing the right thing. You do it because it’s the right thing to do.
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