GodsDesign Sampler FULLSAMPLER-compressed - Page 39



G ender I dentity and S exual O rientation : O ur  B est C ounsel
God made them. To have the very “girly” mother celebrate her daughter’s
athletic accomplishments or interest in auto mechanics, or the athletic dad
applauding the musical accomplishments or emotional sensitivity and empathy of his son (“My son the musician!”), can help the child tremendously in
synthesizing their sense of their gender with their temperament and interests.
This can be a challenge for parents, but your child’s ­well-­being is at stake.
Be aware that gender stereotypes may fit many children but not all. We
need to expand the boundaries of gender stereotypes, recognizing that real
women can be physically strong, logical, emotionally restrained, and drawn
to more aggressive and competitive career paths, and real men can like quiche,
compose music instead of play baseball, be sensitive and empathic rather than
aggressive, and so forth. After all, Jesus violated many of the common gender
stereotypes of his day9 in his inclusion of women among his followers, his
love for children, and his refusal to act violently to advance his cause. Parents
should find ways to affirm their child’s sex and encourage a child to embrace
being a boy or girl within the constraints of the child’s personality.
Extreme Gender Nonconformity
In cases of extreme gender nonconformity, such as the boy whose almost
exclusive interests are playing with dolls, dressing in extremely feminine
clothes, and putting on makeup, or the girl who is aggressive, tough, competitive, and insists on short hair and wearing masculine clothes, the greatest danger is of parental overreaction, with its implied rejection of the child.
Do your best to shape your child toward a broader array of interests while
gently setting boundaries on extremely nonconforming behavior.10 As an
example, a parent can tell a child that he cannot wear his older sister’s
dresses and other articles of women’s clothing but that the parent will help
him shop for boys’ clothing that he likes.
Single Parenting
The absence of one parent due to separation, divorce, or death can make
this gender identification difficult. Single parents raising ­opposite-­sex
young children should work through any unresolved anger and frustration
they may have with an ­ex-­spouse that generalizes to all men (or women).
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can hide powerful feelings from
children. If you have strong unresolved feelings, take deliberate steps to
resolve or manage them.
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