Parents – there is good news! Amidst the headlines, trending articles, controversy, and hashtags you have an opportunity to equip your kids for the very real issues they may have to face in culture. We don’t have to take Bruce’s advice and “just call me Caitlyn”. Let’s go a step further.
It is evident by so many headlines in our culture today that merely looking good on the outside will not keep sin at bay. Going to church or having 19 kids will not guarantee healthy families. But before we get off-topic, let’s take a look at 3 ways you can use the Bruce Jenner situation to your advantage.
The power of a word lies in its definition.
With all the various opinions being expressed, sometimes we are all at risk of losing sight of the original definition of male or female. Words like “gender” get thrown around so much we begin to assume you can choose it like you choose a necklace. That your “sexual orientation” is merely a matter of choice and the results of that choice are no more than a label on a bathroom door.
It says in the beginning that God created man and woman and it was good. Contrary to Facebook, there are not 58 genders to choose from. And actually – gender isn’t a matter of choice. We are created, knit together as either a male or female and God says “It is good.” Use this opportunity to explain words like gender to your young children. Address the classic questions like “Why are boys and girls different?” by giving clear definitions and age-appropriate explanations. A great resource for this is the God’s Design For Sex series which has different books to help you discuss this at various ages. (Bonus: Dr. Caroline Leaf’s book explains how gender is not just a matter of genitalia. Males and females actually have different brain functions. Check it out here.)
As adults we are well aware of the crazy amount of messages just in advertising telling you “you’re not right”. It is safe to assume that anything that gets this much press and media coverage has multiple agendas backing it up. One of those agendas is to create confusion in our children’s identity. Confusion and lack of self-esteem can be a breeding ground for suicide, drugs, and other high risk behaviors.
During a recent informal survey our team conducted, we found the top lie believed by youth was either “I’m too _______” or “I’m not _______ enough”. When a wave comes through our culture offering true happiness by changing the very fabric of our created being, it is time to get back to truth.
Affirming the gender of our children is such an important part of building their self-esteem. According to Psychology Today, self-esteem will actually drop at various ages throughout our child’s life. However, there is good news:
[Self-esteem’s] existence and utility is inferred through actions and expressions considered evidence of its presence.
Which means you can practically build your child’s self-esteem! As someone who sees your child on a regular basis, use your opportunity to build self-esteem into his/her life. The value your child places in their male or femaleness is one of the contributing factors in them growing into a strong man or woman of God.
This doesn’t have to be awkward or obvious. When you see your sons doing something to be considered “manly”, affirm that. When you find your daughter doing something considered “feminine”, affirm that. These affirmations can be as simple as “You’re such a gentleman!” when you son holds the door for someone else, or “You look beautiful” to your daughter when she’s all dressed and ready for school. For more practical ideas on helping our children survive the gender blender check out Secure Daughters, Confident Sons.
The gender identity crisis is not going away. In fact, just last month the headlines also included this gem: “NHS to give sex change drugs to nine-year-olds”. As parents, your job is not just to bring up your children and protect them from dangerous lies of the enemy, but also to equip them to stand strong for the truth. This education has to go deeper than “because I said so” or “you’ll understand when you’re older”. Now is the time, whether your child is 2 or 12, to step up to the plate. Commit to learn for both of your sakes.
Here are some more excellent resources for parents:
– Secure Daughters, Confident Sons
– Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage
– Why Boys and Girls Are Different
– Who Switched Off Your Brain? Solving the Mystery of He Said/She Said
Lastly, the challenge I would leave you with is to help your kids love. People who have identified themselves as transgender (or any other alternative gender) are no less God’s children. Teach your children to be ambassadors of God’s love. Keeping in mind that loving someone does not mean blindly accepting them or having them be alone with your children. But don’t treat them as “less than” just because they are different than you. We all need grace.
Courtney is Generation of Virtue’s lead solutions specialist. Which is a fancy way of saying she handles the team’s many IT needs and spends a lot of time in Photoshop. When she’s not finding solutions to problems, Courtney enjoys communicating God’s truth about love and relationships to teenagers and…drinking coffee.