What Parents Should Know About Kids And Sexuality

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A J.Crew ad showing a boy wearing pink nail polish sparked controversy last year. (J.Crew)
A J.Crew ad showing a boy wearing pink nail polish sparked controversy last year. (J.Crew)

There was a time when being gay meant being closeted. There are still people who are, but today there are gay parades, gay talk show hosts, and gay men and women who serve in the military.

And parents are changing how they respond to sons and daughters who come out of the closet, and younger children who exhibit behaviors atypical for their gender-- like boys playing with dolls or cross dressing.

In the past, parents may have ignored or denied such behavior, but now some are embracing it in an effort to show acceptance.

Author Jesse Bering wrote an article in Scientific American Mind titled, "Is Your Child Gay," and he offers some parenting advice:

Advice For Parents

1.) Don't Rush The Child: Bering says that when a child behaves in a way typical of the opposite gender, sometimes parents overcompensate to show acceptance. "But we don't want to be premature in rushing the child to make some statement about their own sexual identity," Bering said. 

2.) Discuss Situation As Child Gets Older: "It needs to be something that is discussed within the family openly and objectively in a way that makes it very clear to the child that there is no prejudice or discrimination, that there is love for them no matter what their sexual orientation," Bering said.

3.) Be Aware Of Parental Biases: If parents are upset by the possibility that their child may be gay, Bering says that parents should try to figure out why, possibly through therapy.

4.) Make Clear Parents Aren't Bigoted Against Gays: Bering says parents should be clear that they are open to gays, and do not have any biases against homosexuality. "Even if that's clear to the parent, it's not necessarily clear to the child," he said.


Additional Reading


This segment aired on September 20, 2012.


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