Tuesday, August 21, 2012
What about the Children?
While I've spent a lot of time talking about your relationship with your wife, girlfriend or significant other, you may have another entire group of people in your life who matter just as much…the kids. Statistically, the majority of crossdressers are heterosexual and many are or have been married, meaning kids are, more often than not, in the picture. Deciding when and how to tell the kids or if you should tell at all can be a troubling decision for both parents, made harder if the two of you don't agree. I've relied upon my own in-house experts, aka my own kids, for some help and advice on this one.
Regardless of any gender issues within the family, encouraging your children to be loving and accepting will help you to raise individuals who treat others kindly and gently throughout their lives. Encourage your kids to accept and welcome diversity and difference offering age-appropriate explanations. If you attend church services, choose a church that welcomes GLBTQ people, both for your own sake and the kids' sake. Young children accept simple explanations quite easily. You can explain that some people feel like their girls in their head, even if they have a boy's body or that some people feel like both girls and boys, regardless of their bodies. Older kids will want a more thorough explanation and may be curious about the reasons for gender variance and treatments. Offer honest answers and don't be afraid to seek out a medically correct answer if need be. Whether or not you plan to come out to your kids, you can provide them with information that will help them to be understanding to you or others in the future.
If crossdressing is, for you, largely sexual, there's absolutely no reason to share this with your children. They do not want to know. Frankly, they'd rather not acknowledge that you've ever had sex for any reason outside of procreation. Keep it to yourself and be discreet. If they suspect, they're likely to simply choose not to ask and you are under no obligation to tell. Should they see something both of you would rather they hadn't, keep the explanation as brief as possible and allow this embarrassing private moment to serve as nothing more than a story to tell a therapist someday. When crossdressing isn't about gender, but a sexual kink, it can, without harming you or anyone else, remain a private practice.
When getting dressed meets a significant emotional need and comes out of the bedroom, you may need to share this with your kids, whether they're still children or are grown. Even if you don't plan to dress in front of them, offering a gentle explanation at a private time may make things easier for everyone. You do not need to go into excessive detail, but should clarify, assuming the kids are old enough to understand, that this is about gender, rather than sex. Do keep in mind that very young children may not understand that some things are not to be discussed with Grandma, their friends, their teacher and the entire Sunday school class. Consider your kids, your family and how comfortable you are with being out of the walk-in closet if you're telling little ones.
If you do opt to dress in front of the kids, be sensitive about it. Children, especially as they reach the pre-teen and teen years are very aware of social oddities and not happy about them. Choose age-appropriate and modest attire. They may not flinch at you wearing pj pants with poodles around the house but do not want to see you in a micro-mini. To be fair, they feel the same about mom in a micro-mini. Go with this and if you're dressing around the kids, well, wear mom clothes. Listen to their opinions and feedback and try to be responsive, within the limits that are safe for your emotional well-being. Not dressing at all is not a reasonable request, avoiding the pink pajamas when they have sleepover guests is.
Transitioning changes the entire dynamic in the family. When you're planning to move to living full-time or even a significant portion of the time as a woman, your children need to be told. These discussions cannot be postponed or avoided. At this point, gentle discussions and discretion are not an option. Sit the kids down, with their mom if at all possible, and give them an honest explanation of what is going to change in their lives. Reassure them that you both love them and that that will not change, regardless of your gender. If you and your partner have maintained a stable and loving relationship throughout your relationship, take this opportunity to let the kids know that you still love one another and intend to stay together. A family counselor may be a helpful ally in this process, but regardless of professional support, expect a great many questions. You may find it helpful to give the school counselor a call, just to let them know what is occurring in your home and reduce possible questions from the school.
While this isn't going to be an easy discussion, there's some good news. Kids are usually pretty damn accepting and able to love unconditionally. Hopefully, your own questioning and experiences have led you to raise them to welcome and understand differences. They may be frightened and even angry, but with love and support will probably settle in to the fact that Dad just doesn't feel like one of the guys.
Posted by Cupcake at 7:01 PM