The topic of sexuality and gender is one that is discussed more freely with the current generation. As a parent, I will honestly hold my hand up and say that I do not fully understand, the now vast, list of labels that are associated with sexuality and gender that are in use by today’s society. Something that was once so simple can now be a political nightmare if you are not careful, but being a parent you have to be prepared for questions surrounding these topics, especially if you wish to encourage your kids to be accepting of themselves and others as the mature.
It was only recently that I was faced with one of these conversations myself. What I was really surprised with was the level of maturity and understanding my son had. What started off as a simple conversation in the car about YouTubers, soon turned into an honest and frank discussion about the sexuality of some mainstream stars, and how others still use terms like “gay” as an insult in their videos.
We talked at length about how there should be no pressure into feeling like you need to make up your mind about falling into one of the categories or labels which are thrown around. I also reassured him that I didn’t expect my son, at 11, to have got such a concept clear in his head yet and there is so much time in life to enjoy yourself and have fun, do not be worried about social constructs and do not be afraid to change your mind too.
My son went on to explain how even at primary school he was made fun of and called names like “gay” because he didn’t have a girlfriend and wouldn’t kiss one of the girls at the leavers dance. In our discussion he told me how much he enjoyed spending time with one of the other kids in the class, but because she was female, the only way the boys in the class would LET him socialise with her, was if he said that they were boyfriend and girlfriend.
It is concerning that this peer pressure to conform to social norms was so pronounced even at primary age. I did believe that the primary school he attended was very open and accepting, having a number of young children on roll who identified as the opposite gender. But even with that as an open topic of discussion throughout the school, terms of using someone’s sexuality to pick on someone seems not to change.
I left my son with some advice which has stuck with him and that he is embracing now he moves forward into his teen years.
Be yourself, if you want your hair long, have it long, if you want it cut, we will cut it. Use this time to discover who you are, what you love and what you want to be. Do not be afraid to have dreams and ambitions and don’t be afraid to be uncertain of the future, there are still 45 year olds out there in the world who don’t have their shit together yet. Never be afraid to be yourself. I will always be your mother and will always be proud of you – unless you rob an old lady or turn out like Logan Paul – then I will give you the death stare and kick your arse for being a numpty!
We laughed. He held my hand and said thank you, and as quick as a flash, the conversation was changed to talk of Minecraft.
Have you had hear to heart conversations like this with your children? What is your best advice to give kids of the YouTube generation?
Love, hugs and rainbow flags