Sexual identity and teens: supporting your teen on their journey part 1
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Being a teenager is a difficult experience. Teens experience a host of changes as they mature. They also begin to explore their sexuality and to develop their sexual identity and may question their sexual orientation. They may feel confused, isolated, and very vulnerable. These are all completely natural emotions and behaviours.
Helping your teen through this can be stressful for a parent. Many people struggle with their sexual orientation at some point in their lives. It is important that your teen knows that all forms of sexuality are normal and healthy.
The term “sexual orientation” is used to identify whether we are attracted romantically and/or sexually to the opposite gender (heterosexual), the same gender (gay/lesbian), or both genders (bisexual).
Recognize that this is not something we can choose or change. We are who we are and need to be proud of our sexual orientation and respectful of others’ orientation.
Accepting Your Orientation
- Encourage your teen to recognize that they are, the same core person they have always been, regardless of their orientation. Teach them to like and respect themselves for who they are.
- Help them build a support network. Encourage them to join the gay, lesbian or bisexual community in your area and talk to someone who has walked in your their shoes. Check the web for local resources and connect your teen with them.
- Keep a keen eye out for the use of drugs or alcohol to cover their pain and confusion. Instead, encourage them to reach out to the many support hotlines and centres that have been set up across the country for gays, lesbians and bisexuals. Offer to go with them if they are too shy to go alone.
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Tags: Parenting, pride, sexuality, teen