Parent Coaching for Gender Identity
At its simplest level Gender Identity is an individual's personal sense of having a particular gender. It is who you are in relation to being female, male, transgender, non-binary or gender expansive. It defines how you are seen by the world, and the way one expresses oneself. Gender dysphoria is the feeling of discomfort or distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth. Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness, but some people may develop mental health problems because of gender dysphoria, including depression, anxiety, substance misuse, self-harm, and other mental health or behavioral problems.
How can a parent coach help a parent support their child who is struggling with their gender identity or gender dysphoria?
First, it is important to note that a parent coach is not a mental health professional treating you or your child as part of the coaching relationship. The struggles associated with the emotions that may accompany questioning gender identity or gender dysphoria can be wide ranging. Your coach helps you develop clarity about your thoughts and feelings related to your child’s gender expression and any impacts they have on your interactions. Your coach will further guide you toward non-judgmental reactions to ensure safety for your child’s exploration while you express clarity about your expectations and boundaries. Your coach helps you to shift your interactions, responses and household structure to better support your child physically and emotionally as they manage the complex process of navigating gender identity.
How can a parent coach help a parent manage their emotional responses to their childʻs identity and/or their own gender identity process?
When a child is struggling with issues related to questioning or acknowledging their gender identity, or grappling with gender dysphoria, parents may also be struggling with their own internal emotional process. Even when this is not the case, parents may not recognize their own ingrained assumptions or beliefs that may influence their responses to their children. If a parent is struggling with, questioning, or coming to terms with their own gender identity, their own experience may influence or transfer onto their responses or notions about what their child may need, or should do. A parent coach will help you look constructively at your strengths and struggles as a parent in relation to your childʻs unique process, experience, struggles and needs and help you to identify where you may need to separate your process from that of your child and where you can grow to best support your child.
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