'It's ok to like boys': When and how to talk to your child about sexual identity and gender roles

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"I feel he is way too young to put that into his self at 2 and a half years old."
"I feel he is way too young to put that into his self at 2 and a half years old."

As our children grow and we watch with wonder, we might at times find ourselves concerned with certain behaviours or worried about how they are being influenced by other significant adults in their lives. 

This grandmother wrote to Parent24 with a query about her grandson and how she is worried about his father's influence on his future. 

"My grandson's father is saying to him that it's ok if he would want to wear a dress, and it's ok to like boys.

I feel he is way too young to put that into his mind at 2 and a half years old. 

I get so scared when his dad has him alone, and now the lil guy is acting upset at little things."

A very clear idea 

Kate Tregan Rowe, founder of explorare.co.za, reassures us that this in in fact ok. The wellness coach, who's work creates deeper connections and more open honest conversations between parents and their children, says she thinks it is wonderful for a parent to be open and speaking about all the things which are okay.

"Even by the age of two a child is already picking up on the structures and conditioning of what is considered normal, they are also very aware and at a stage of wanting to express more of who they are and they do have a very clear idea of what this is," she explains.

Rowe says that a parent who is open and accepting of the possibility and allowing of a child to express themselves in their own way is a gift. 

However, to address this grandmother's concerns, she says "I understand your concern, however unless his Dad is now forcing his opinion onto your grandson rather than saying it is okay to wear what you want, and to like who you like, I would be cautious to draw a line between what his dad is saying and his getting upset."

...no matter what choices he makes 

"I do agree with you that at this stage it may not be necessary to speak about the fact that it is okay to like boys, in what I am assuming is a relationship context," she adds.

"However, at two there may be questions when he sees same sex couples together and asks a question about it, and this would be a very appropriate time to speak about how love is love and it comes in many shapes and forms," Rowe says. 

"I would invite you to be curious about why this is so distressing for you and why you believe that this is doing your grandson harm," she encourages this grandmother, adding "You may also want to chat to his dad and see if you can together find ways to speak to your grandson about acceptance which are less specific and still gets the message across that your grandson is accepted just the way he is, no matter what choices he makes."

Rowe says that what is most important is for him to feel loved and know that he can express himself in the world exactly as he is. 


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