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My Child is Questioning His Sexuality Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Sex is one of the most basic of human functions.   As children grow, it becomes one of the great mysteries of life which they are eager to explore.  Their own sexuality becomes an issue as they, too, realize that they are sexual beings.

Many children will never question their sexuality.  They link their sexuality to their identified gender at birth.  At birth they are identified by their physiology as being male or female and are treated accordingly by the members of their family and society.  It is said that gender identification begins between eighteen (18) to thirty (30) months.  Gender stabilization takes place later on as social interaction and role definition places clear distinctions on the expected behavior of males and females.  Society then proceeds to define how the different genders relate sexually to each other.  In more traditional settings male to female interaction is expected.

It cannot be disputed however, that there has been enormous development and variations to the norm in society.  Distinctions between the male and female gender in many instances have become blurred, and there are even instances in which persons have declared themselves neither male nor female but androgynous.  There are more instances in which children will see males taking on seemingly female traits and vice versa.

This has led to a wider range of choices as it relates to sexuality.  Against this background, it is not unusual therefore to have children questioning their sexuality.  Gender identification at birth is no longer enough to determine the sexuality of individuals.  A wider range of choices has been opened up to both adults and children.  For children who question their sexuality, it is not enough to say ‘well, you were born as a girl, therefore you are a girl’.  It becomes insufficient because they can point to many instances in which persons who were born a particular gender have transformed themselves to the gender of their choice and assumed the identity and behavior of the opposite gender.

So what do you do when your child questions his sexuality?  First, determine whether he’s passing through a phase or whether this is a more permanent issue.  Questions about his sexuality may arise from exposure to lifestyles which are different from that to which you have exposed him.  A frank discussion about his friends and activities may help you to determine why the questions are arising.  Secondly, speak to a professional.  This may mean talking first to a guidance or family counsellor whom you can trust to treat the matter sensitively.  They should be able to refer you to a professional with whom you can share your concerns.

Thirdly, inform yourself.  Read as much as you can on the subject matter.  Share appropriate information with your child.  Asking questions is natural.  Help your child to find the answers he seeks.  Be aware however, that some of the answers may not be the ones you are looking for.  As you inform yourself more on the subject matter, the issue will become clearer to you and allow you to make better-informed decisions.

Lastly, seek support.  You may find that you are not alone in facing these issues.  A professional counsellor can recommend you to support groups.  Understanding family members may also be a source of strength as you and your child wade through the issues of your child questioning his sexuality.

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