As a therapist working with families, my primary focus is on facilitating connection within the family unit. However, before establishing those connections, each family member must identify and communicate their expectations regarding the gender identification process. By providing a safe and supportive space, therapists help parents and children explore their thoughts, feelings, and concerns, fostering open and honest communication. This is especially true for the feelings of grief that often occur for parents who care about their child, and want to honor their child’s identity, but are grieving the loss of their child that was.
Once expectations are identified, it is essential to encourage family members to engage in self-reflection and learning. Together, we seek to reframe any previous thought patterns that may be rooted in biases or misconceptions. By examining these beliefs, parents and children can replace them with healthier and more inclusive perspectives. This process of unlearning and growth enables families to develop new patterns that promote connection, understanding, and empathy.
Education plays a vital role in supporting parents and children on their journey of acceptance and understanding. Providing access to educational resources, such as books, articles, or workshops, empowers parents to expand their knowledge about gender diversity, identity exploration, and the experiences of their child. These resources not only promote understanding but also facilitate meaningful conversations within the family, encouraging empathy and fostering a supportive environment.