Do you have a nonbinary child with whom you’d like to communicate and connect?
If so, congrats on being an amazing and inspiring parent. It makes me smile just knowing that you’re reading this article.
With that said, let’s dive into some actionable tips to help you emerge as the incredible parent you’re committed to being.
7 Ways to Support a Nonbinary Child
Below are seven ways you can start supporting your nonbinary child immediately.
1. Understand that ‘Nonbinary’ is Self-Defined
Because nonbinary is a personal identity, it will mean something different to everyone who chooses to embrace it.
This means that the gender identity “nonbinary” is likely to mean something slightly different to your child than it does to me.
For example, in this Twitter post, I asked other nonbinary people to share their meaning of the word. As you can see, the answers were as varied as the people who were giving them!
Question for my #nonbinary friends: How would you describe being gender nonconforming (GNC) in one sentence or less? 🏳️🌈
— Cade Hildreth | LGBTQ+ (@CadeHildreth) May 6, 2020
When you find the right moment, ask your child, “What does ‘nonbinary’ mean to you?”
This is a respectful way to engage in conversation about their life experiences, preferences, and the ways they prefer to interact with the world.
2. Give Yourself a Primer
If you’ve never explored the meaning of the word ‘nonbinary’ before, give this article a read-through. It will act as a ‘primer’ for your education.
In addition to learning about the history of the word, you’ll learn that identities are often multi-layered and multi-faceted.
This is why it’s valuable to ask someone with a nonbinary identity how they experience their gender and which pronouns they prefer. Because the term can mean so many different things to different people, the best way to approach it is to ask someone who uses it what it means to them.
3. Remind Your Child You Love Them
Because children who have nonbinary gender identities see less representation of themselves in the media and day-to-day life, they may be questioning how you will respond to them sharing this identity with you.
For this reason, if and when they do share it, please remind them that you love and accept all of them.
You accept their gender. You embrace their self-expression. You celebrate the wonderful and and extraordinary person that they are.
If you need a little something to say, share with them that my favorite word in the dictionary is “extraordinary” because it literally means “extra” (that is, beyond) “ordinary.”
4. Questions to Ask Your Nonbinary Child
Given the fluid and individualized nature of this identity, I’d encourage you to make your next step a conversation. Specifically, you could considering asking your child some of the questions below.
While the questions you ask will depend on the type of relationship that you have with each other, my hope is that the ones below will give you ideas for spurring meaningful conversation.
Potential questions to ask your nonbinary child:
- What pronouns would you like to use? For example, does ‘they/them’ feel more comfortable or do you prefer ‘he/him’, ‘she/her’ or something else?
- How do you feel about your birth name? Are there any nicknames you’d like to try using?
- Are there any other changes you’d like me to make to my language that would help you feel more loved and supported?
- Are there any changes you’d like to make in your life—for example, clothes, activities, haircuts, or something else?
- Is there something about you that you wish I better understood?
- How well do your friends understand and support your identity?
5. Acknowledge Room for Change
Next, acknowledge that your child’s gender identity may be fluid and evolve over time.
Ask if they’d be willing try to share these changes with you as they learn more about themselves.
This will keep the lines of communication open between the two of you as they age, evolve and have new life experiences.
6. Grab a Copy of Beyond the Gender Binary
Next, grab a copy of the amazing book Beyond the Binary, by Alok Vaid Menon. You can find it here.
Alok is a nonbinary individual who is wildly smart and insightful about many topics, but especially about gender.
With discrimination against LGBTQ youth on the rise, Alok is also partnering with Equality Federation to distribute 5,000+ free books to LGBTQ youth across for Pride this June.
7. Connect Them with Me (If It Feels Right)
If and only if you feel comfortable with this, ask your child if they’d like to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. Or, you could direct them to this website.
I always aim to post positive, respectful and valuable content that is all-age appropriate.
If my existence as a happy, married, successful nonbinary person could be of value to your nonbinary child, it would be my greatest honor to share a ‘window’ into my life with them.
View this post on Instagram
Supporting Your Nonbinary Child
Again, I have enormous respect to you for being the type of loving, caring, thoughtful parent who delves into an article about how to support a nonbinary child.
It’s parents like you that make the world a profoundly better place, one day and one child at a time.
I hope these tips have helped you in some small way. If you still have questions, reach out to me here.
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