My College:
Dear Adina

Concerned for My Daughter's Safety

Adina Glickman


Dear Adina,

My daughter is struggling with her sexual identity and I am not sure how to handle the situation. I worry about her safety later in life if she goes through with the transition. I'm a little upset with her decision. How do I deal with this?


Dear Parent,

I am so glad you reached out with this question — it reflects the care and seriousness with which you are taking your child’s struggle. Your willingness to reflect on your own feelings and reactions is a tremendous gift to your child, and by extension is also a gift to other parents who need good role models!

Women, people of color, members of the trans community, and members of the LGBTQ community have always had to navigate their safety in the larger world. There is no shield from violence or oppression that guarantees safety, but historically the best protection has been in being surrounded and supported by allies. You have an opportunity to lead the way in being your daughter’s staunchest ally.

It might help to move this challenge out of the “decisions they make” category and into the “this is who they are” category. Sexuality and gender identity are part of the fabric of who we are and our decisions — our choices — are how to honor or subjugate the truths of that fabric.

Part of what we’re learning is that those cultural and societal things that “come naturally,” like gendering our babies from the moment the ultrasound gives us data, are constructed and imposed on babies and children. For people considering transitioning, it’s a decision to be free of a set of choices others have made. Coming to a decision to transition from daughter to son, or to exist anywhere on the gender spectrum, can be understood as a setting aside of those unnatural constructs.

In essence, your child’s job is to become who they truly are, and any decision they make down the line will be an embracing of that true self.

It’s understandable to be upset when our kids are facing challenges like being safe and doing things we might consider as moving away from what’s considered a norm. Consider this: if we parents (aka members of society) include gender diversity in our own understanding of what’s just "regular," we take a necessary step in making the world a safer place for our kids.

Since one of your child’s challenges will be dealing with people who are anything from uncomfortable to hostile, it is essential that you, as their parent, attend to them with unabridged acceptance. Be with them like they’re the child you love because they ARE the child you love. The rest of the world may not see that, but if you don’t, they definitely won’t.

Finally, if any of your upset is leaning towards disapproval, consider how that might inadvertently contribute to the lack of safety they feel. Feeling safe in our parent’s embrace is the right of every child, and that embedded sense of safety will go a long way towards giving them the feeling inside that they’re strong enough to take on the challenges.

It’s a cause for celebration that your child is coming into themselves. You can either celebrate with them or skip the party. If you’re planning on being the leader of the ally pack, start celebrating. You can certainly explore your own discomfort, but your number one priority is supporting your child.

You may need some help with that, and there are resources to support your efforts. But whatever you communicate to your child (and if “she” is no longer the appropriate pronoun, start there) it must be unconditional love and acceptance.

Know that you are in good company and that you have allies in parenting. Here are a couple of resources I encourage you to check out:

Yours,

Adina Signature

Have a question? Ask Adina

Adina Glickman is the founder of Affinity Coaching Group, which offers academic, life, parenting and career coaching. She is the former director of learning strategies at Stanford University and is the co-founder and director of the Academic Resilience Consortium, an association of faculty, staff and students dedicated to understanding and promoting student resilience. Learn more at affinitycoachinggroup.com.
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    2 days ago
    CollegiateParent

    Summer is the perfect time for college kids to catch up on medical and dental appointments.

    And it’s also an opportunity to launch a discussion about their sexual health.

    Is this a topic that your student is open about with you?

    Some of our kids tell us everything, some of them edit out things that make them – or us - uncomfortable, and some of them rarely talk about anything more personal than what they’re laughing at on Tik Tok.

    Here’s a tip if you have a kid who never talks about anything related to relationships or sex. Use any number of current events to broach the subject. Rising monkeypox cases, reproductive rights, and Pride month have all been in the news and are “tip of the iceberg” topics that can get your college student to open up and start talking.

    Whether you know they are or are not sexually active, it’s always a good idea to let our college kids know that we are continuously there to answer any questions, provide resources, and support them in making healthy decisions about things like intimate relationships, consent, contraception, and STD testing.

    Coming at these issues with a judgment free attitude is key, because let’s face it – when our kids are away at school, we have no way of knowing what they are doing, and they are legal adults who don’t need our permission to engage in any type of relationship. If we want to be able to have honest discussions about all aspects of health with them, we need them to know we love and care for them above all else, even if what they are doing has not been our lived experience or we don’t endorse some of their decisions.

    If you or your college student are looking for information on any health-related topic, a great place to start is the Resource page at the American College Health Association site, www.acha.org

    For a Situation Summary of the current monkeypox outbreak, you can consult the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

    And consider passing along this excellent resource from www.healthline.com on “Where to Get Free or
    Lower-Cost STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) Testing in Each State.”

    - Marybeth Loyd Bock, MPH
    ... See MoreSee Less

    Summer is the perfect time for college kids to catch up on medical and dental appointments.  And it’s also an opportunity to launch a discussion about their sexual health.  Is this a topic that your student is open about with you?  Some of our kids tell us everything, some of them edit out things that make them – or us - uncomfortable, and some of them rarely talk about anything more personal than what they’re laughing at on Tik Tok.  Here’s a tip if you have a kid who never talks about anything related to relationships or sex. Use any number of current events to broach the subject. Rising monkeypox cases, reproductive rights, and Pride month have all been in the news and are “tip of the iceberg” topics that can get your college student to open up and start talking.  Whether you know they are or are not sexually active, it’s always a good idea to let our college kids know that we are continuously there to answer any questions, provide resources, and support them in making healthy decisions about things like intimate relationships, consent, contraception, and STD testing.  Coming at these issues with a judgment free attitude is key, because let’s face it – when our kids are away at school, we have no way of knowing what they are doing, and they are legal adults who don’t need our permission to engage in any type of relationship. If we want to be able to have honest discussions about all aspects of health with them, we need them to know we love and care for them above all else, even if what they are doing has not been our lived experience or we don’t endorse some of their decisions.  If you or your college student are looking for information on any health-related topic, a great place to start is the Resource page at the American College Health Association site, www.acha.org  For a Situation Summary of the current monkeypox outbreak, you can consult the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)  And consider passing along this excellent resource from www.healthline.com on “Where to Get Free or
Lower-Cost STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection) Testing in Each State.”  - Marybeth Loyd Bock, MPH
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