I will disclose that I'm not a mother myself, but an awesome aunt (if I say so myself lol). I understand that I have not yet experienced the depth of fatigue and sacrifice that mothers make on a daily basis for their children. But I do believe I have some useful commentary on remaining balanced and grounded during the challenges parenting throws at mothers, as well as hacks on creating and maintaining a stable and healthy family environment.
Be the love you want to see
Leading by example is a powerful way to demonstrate healthy and positive instances of love, happiness, and balance. Lots of times parents fall into the "do as I say, not as I do" trap, which can be confusing for kids and promote resentment in adolescence- the time when children think they are more grown than they actually are, and feel they are entitled to the same treatment and liberties as an adult, or even you.
When your child sees you as the walking embodiment of your personal truth, and when your child sees you genuinely happy as well as grateful- you make a much bigger impact than you would trying to preach at them despite your personal double standards.
Be honest with your children from an early age.
Transparency goes a long way. One thing that can become annoying to parents is the fact that their child always wants to know the reason why for anything and everything, but curiosity is a characteristic in children that you don't wan to squash. Besides being a motivating factor to continue higher education, satiating your child's inquisitiveness through honest conversations can provide a benefit in childhood.
Researchers have noted that children are less anxious about their uncommon family structures when they're told early about divorce, adoption, donors or the other ways they might have been conceived. Children also benefit from having a clear understanding of their family structure. Research also found that in cases of assisted conception, lesbians were less secretive with their children than straight parents were, with positive effects on family relationships. According to a study, "offspring who don't find out until adolescence or adulthood feel more negatively."
Furthermore, families who conceive the more conventional way also have opportunities to ground kids in their backgrounds and identities. According to a study, African-American parents, for example, who share honest history with their kids – even the painful parts – tend to raise resilient offspring who confront prejudice with education and don't let it affect their self-esteem.
The bottom line is your children are stronger than you think! They can handle almost anything if its introduced and processed in a straightforward and supportive way.
Take care of yourself
You can't pour from an empty cup. Moms want what's best for their children and will do whatever it takes to make that so, but the mental and physical well-being of mom herself must not be neglected. Self-care is one of the most crucial parts of health & wellness. Like it was mentioned above, children see everything- including the fact that you're miserable, fatigued, depressed, self-medicating, or worse! Do what you need to do to be better and feel better, and your family unit will only benefit from the love your show yourself.
Stand up for them and teach them how to stand up for themselves.
Children with same-sex parents are undoubtedly bullied. A recent survey by the legal rights group Equality for Gays And Lesbians Everywhere found that 37% of affected teens reported verbal harassment, and 27% reported physical harassment. Therefore, as their parents, they need to know the home is a safe space where they can not only reveal this abuse to a mom they trust, but that the mom will support them and show them the proper steps to take when dealing with this situation. Reacting violently or ignoring the bullying isn't the answer- and making the wrong move during this painful experience can have lifelong implications, leading to depression, anxiety, and even suicide. Take bullying very seriously, and intervene if necessary. It's also advised to build a relationship with your child's teachers so that they may monitor any behavior at school.
It does take a village. So build one
Against criticisms that their children lack male role models, many lesbian moms can counter that their kids have an even greater variety of adult nurturers. These "chosen families," sometimes formed when gay people are estranged from their own relatives, are often reinforced by their paths to parenting. Not everyone should have access to your child or be around them, but the more positive influences that a child does have, can help them to learn different things about life and themselves outside of what a mother provides.
Let them make their own spaces
Children and adolescents especially need to create their own identity. In LGBT families (sometimes as a result of bullying), offspring want and need to be seen as independent beings deserving a distinct space in lesbian, gay and transgendered communities – even if they're straight. They need their own space to find the type of support that is unique to their place as children of LGBT families, and they need to be given the freedom to pursue that.
Same-sex parenting obviously has its own sets of challenges, and motherhood and childhood alike have its trying moments even outside the LGBT context. I imagine it must be stressful because we can try to do everything right, and still our child's fate is in a way out of our hands. But there's no shame or futility in trying! Whatever is meant for your child will be for your child, but the best thing you can do for your kids is to teach them self-love, self-care, and how to navigate away from toxic behaviors, people, and ideas.
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