LGBT parenting: In recent years, India’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) rights have progressed rapidly. However, people from the queer community continue to suffer societal and legal challenges that are unique to them. One such challenge for queer couples is starting a family together.
Marriage and raising a child together are a hope and a wish for many LGBT couples however, the challenges it brings along are traumatising for them due to the legal restrictions as well as the stigma and discrimination still attested to the community. While the fight and spirit regarding basic human rights have a long way to go in India, it is important that queer couples know that they deserve to have a fulfilling family life, just like everyone else.
Raising a child is often a mixed bag filled with both challenges and fulfilling aspects. LGBT parenting can have its own set of unique challenges to be tackled. Same-sex parents can face the same co-parenting and blended family challenges that heterosexual parents face, plus the added difficulties of prejudice, stereotypes, and assumptions. For same-sex parents, explaining relationship status and family make-up to school personnel, medical personnel, children’s friends/parents, as well as explaining relationship status and family make-up to children, can be particularly difficult. Because of the lack of societal norms and appropriate examples in the media, the fear of discrimination encountered by these families and discussing family connections can be particularly challenging for queer-parented families.
There is no manual to follow when it comes to parenting. Although, considering and acknowledging these difficulties, here are 5 tips for LGBT parents to raise a child together and start a positive family life:
Engage with your child
Communication with your children from the start can never be emphasised enough. It is the foundation that you build with your child in their early years that can help your family navigate transitions and challenges that your child or you may face together. Talk to your children on a frequent basis if you wish to break down stereotypes. Reading LGBT-positive books to toddlers and preschoolers is a terrific place to start. A variety of these wonderfully illustrated books can educate your youngster a lot about acceptance, diverse families, and different ways of living.
Reading LGBT-positive books to toddlers and pre-schoolers is a terrific place to start.
Â Answer questions age appropriately
Adopted children frequently have doubts about their biological family and identity. Children of LGBT parents, in particular, might also have questions about sexuality. It’s essential to respond in a calm, direct manner that is appropriate for their age and maturity level. Be honest and open, but don’t give your youngster too much knowledge all at once. Let them have their own space and time to understand your family dynamics.
Â Foster a Safe Environment at Home
Consciously prioritise creating a secure atmosphere for your child. It’s simple to accomplish this at home, where you have complete control; however, doing it outside the home might be challenging. It is important for you to hold a safe space for your child to communicate and discuss any experience they may be having internally as well as externally. Prepare your youngster to respond to queries and remarks about their family and background. Help your child come up with and practice appropriate responses to teasing or mean remarks.
Prepare your youngster to respond to queries and remarks about their family and background.
Â Respect their feelings
This parenting guideline is especially significant because children from queer families may have different, changing perspectives on the situation. Some children just believe they are different from other children, which is understandable given society’s influence on a child’s emotional development. Respect their feelings and teach them to express them respectfully, even if they disagree with you on certain points.
Â Find support and connect with other queer parents
Begin developing your support system as soon as possible, and add to it as needed. Seek out other LGBT parents in particular who can empathise with your situation and offer advice and counsel specific to the LGBT parenting experience. If you introduce your child to other children who have LGBT guardians or parents, it will be easier for them to completely comprehend the benefits of LGBT parenting. It is much easier for children to enhance their self-confidence and feel free to be whoever they want to be when they know they are a part of a community.
Your children are likely to have their own journey when it comes to understanding their family and how they feel about it, with respect to the world outside. Express your unconditional love and care for them no matter what, and they will find their way to you eventually.
Asha Vaghasia is the Founder of We Positive Parenting. The views expressed are the author’s own.