Relationships Podcast Post

How to Talk to Kids About Sexual Orientation with Dr. Marcie Beigel

George Grombacher June 9, 2022

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How to Talk to Kids About Sexual Orientation with Dr. Marcie Beigel

LifeBlood: We talked about how to talk to kids about sexual orientation, how to show up with curiosity, why avoidance is the worst policy, and how to create an environment where your kids are comfortable talking with you about everything with Dr. Marcie Beigel, Founder and behavioral specialist with Behavior and Beyond.  

Listen to learn why proactivity is a key to success in this important area!

You can learn more about Marcie at, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Dr. Marcie Beigel

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on blood for this Georgie and the time is right welcome today’s guest struggle powerful Dr. Marci Beagle. Dr. Marcia, you’re ready to do this?

Dr. Marcie Beigel 0:19
I’m ready.

george grombacher 0:20
All right, let’s go. Dr. Marci is this is I think the third time you’re on the show Marcy, you are the founder and behavioral specialist at behavior and beyond helping parents and teachers, anybody involved with children have better conversations and change behaviors and have better relationships. I guess maybe that’s a great way to say it. But Dr. Marci, tell us a little about your personalized more about your work and why you do what you do.

Dr. Marcie Beigel 0:47
So I live in Brooklyn, New York in a beautiful apartment that I just moved into about two months ago. That’s right. So I’ve been spending time wreath decorating and settling in. Other than that I help families and organizations change behavior. And I love that I do what I do. Because I think if we help our kids understand how to be better humans, the world will be a better place.

george grombacher 1:12
Change it, changed it on the on on the front end as as much as possible. And I just couldn’t agree more. So yeah. So today, Dr. Marci, talk about all the issues that we as adults have a hard time processing, and then how in the world would we expect a child to do that?

Dr. Marcie Beigel 1:32
Mm hmm. There are big things happening in our world these days, things that we as adults are struggling to sit with understand hold is our reality. And then when you’re a parent, you have to then explain it to your three year old, your seven year old, your 10 year old and how do you really do that? And how do you do that? Well and on purpose.

george grombacher 1:52
And that’s that that’s that’s one of the keys, right? It’s it’s the on purpose part.

Dr. Marcie Beigel 1:56
Yeah. Because your kids will hear something at school or hear something on the playground and come home and say, Hey, Mom, what about at you go, Oh, no. How was my scream? Because you’re not ready. Right? But if you bring it up, and if you say, look, there’s this thing happening in the world, I want to talk about it, we can do with much more ease and grace when we are a little bit prepared. And thinking about that as these worlds events unfold.

george grombacher 2:26
Yeah. And you were kind enough to come on about 30 days ago, roughly speaking, we talked about how to actually talk to kids about Ukraine, which was incredibly helpful and valuable. For me, I didn’t know a lot of other people. So I literally was having a conversation yesterday with a buddy that I went to college with. And he has two daughters, but they’re not quite old enough. And his sister has a daughter who’s in sixth grade. And she came home and said, Am I Am I a lesbian? Am I bisexual? And I don’t know how the conversation actually went. But I know that it was certainly caught her mom off guard. But that’s a lot of what’s going on in the world today. Are these issues. Yeah, how old is this, kiddo? Sixth grade. So 11. Yeah.

Dr. Marcie Beigel 3:17
So just to give those of you who are listening a frame of reference, if your kid is eight 910, they may start thinking about this because there are more and more conversations around about sexuality, about sexual identity about gender identity. And there’s more acceptance from the Young kids these days. Sounds so old when I say that. But there’s more acceptance about what’s possible, which is beautiful and wonderful. And a gift that many in the LGBTQ plus community have fought very long and hard for that to be the case. And now that we’re here, many of us who did not grow up that way or confused and don’t know how to handle it. So part of it is just knowing in your back pocket, that may be a conversation that comes up. Part of it is thinking ahead of time. Is this a topic I want to bring up to my child to talk to them about in our family, this is what the adult romantic relationship looks like. But in another family, it may look different. And here are the possibilities. Because if you set the stage and give them a foundation for what you believe, is right about the world as possible about the world that love is love and whoever you love is great. Then if they are questioning if they are confused, if they are wondering, they feel safer coming to you, they have a way to think about it when their friends say something. And it allows you to have a conversation when your daughter does come home and say am I a lesbian? If you’ve already talked a little bit about what that looks like or what relationships may be it allows you to be like, well, maybe let’s talk about it and have more ease with it.

george grombacher 5:02
And so certainly for me, I can just use myself as an example, I’ve got a five and a two year old, both boys and I’m interested in getting in front of these conversations as much as possible. And whatever it’s a conversation about if it’s about racism, or or police brutality or whatever, or sexuality. As difficult as those are, I want my kids to be comfortable coming, and same drugs, whatever all of it. This is what I’m thinking about, I have questions about. So walk me through that framework. Again, it’s in our family, this is not mommy and daddy are love each other. And, but

Dr. Marcie Beigel 5:47
daddy is a boy and mommy’s a girl. And Daddy feels like a boy, a mommy feels like a girl. So we have a straight heterosexual relationship. That’s what’s happening here. But out in the world, sometimes, there’s a girl and a girl who are married and love each other very much and have a family. Sometimes there’s a boy and a boy who are married and have a family. And sometimes there’s someone who was born in a body that we would think is a boy, but they feel like a girl. And so they walk in the world as as a girl. And they found somebody to love to, and they started a family. So there are all sorts of different ways that we can have a family. Isn’t that cool? And if you start that as a regular conversation with your two and five year olds, that you know, periodically, whether it’s a TV show, or a book, or movie, or friends that you’re with, that you just kind of point out the reality that there are differences. Then when they see somebody, they’re going to start go, well, am I do I like you right when they’re teenagers, not at seven. But you know, hopefully, when they’re a little older, and they start seeing someone, they’ll go well, am I interested in you, rather than saying I have to put myself in this box and love this type of person. It allows them to be happy with who they are.

george grombacher 7:12
Nice. So I have a tendency to want to really thank myself and come up with a great way to say something but you’ve just done a brilliant job and a really awesome job of expressing a really difficult issue, but not trying to wordsmith it just saying things for what they are. Yeah.

Dr. Marcie Beigel 7:32
And be politically incorrect in your own home and kerfuffle it and feel weird and awkward about it. Because it’s better to say something that’s not completely graceful than not say anything at all, especially when you’re teaching your kids. And let them see that, you know, I’m figuring this out, too. This is new for me too. You know, I’m not used to talking about sexual identity. I’m not used to talking about race. So this conversation is new, but it’s important, so we’re gonna happen.

george grombacher 8:03
And if I am, if I am scared, or nervous that I don’t want my kid to be gay or bisexual, or I’m trying to be really careful with my words for for no good reason. How, how would you recommend I think about that, as a parent, and that approach that with the child.

Dr. Marcie Beigel 8:29
My opinion, and granted, there are lots of people who believe lots of things out there, yeah, I believe that parents want their kids to be happy. And by habit, holding that as the forefront, then it is about teaching your kid that everything is possible. And whoever they are, you are going to love no matter what that is. And then because you are an adult, and you have feelings, and you get to have those feelings, that doesn’t make you a bad person, unless you act on them, right. Like, you get to be scared. I know that when I came out in my family, my dad had a hard time because he felt like it was going to make my life harder. The fact that I love any of the humans, regardless of your gender, he was like But if you end up with a woman that will make your life harder, and I want your life to be as easy as possible. It’s a beautiful sentiment. And yet, it tried to put me in a box. And so we’ve worked through that and all as well in my family, but it was then his work to go get okay with who I was. So if you as a parent are having feelings of like, ah, if my child comes home and tells me that they love a person and it’s not in the box that I think well, you need to start working through that. Whether that’s going to a therapist to really talk out your feelings, whether that’s talking with your partner about how to make that okay, whether that’s just journaling for yourself to really put in the forefront. I want my child to be happy and whatever will make them happy. As far as who they love. I’m In for, you want them to be a good person. And so putting that in the forefront helps you navigate your feelings. But do that away from your kiddo. Because they don’t need to feel those limits?

george grombacher 10:12
No, they, they, they don’t need my, my struggling and figuring things out in my own head to, to bleed into what they’re already struggling to figure out in their own head to complicate things, so I appreciate that. So these are big. Some of these issues are in my mind bigger than others. If you have a child who is coming home, and they’re saying I am, my name is George, I’m 10 years old, I am a boy. But I feel like I’m actually a girl. How should I handle as a parent when my kid is coming home and telling me that

Dr. Marcie Beigel 11:00
curiosity? Curiosity is going to be the best way to navigate that. I’ve worked with several different families who have gone through this. And when you show up with curiosity, it allows your child to unfold to get to who they truly are. A lot of kids will play a little bit with gender, right? When I was in seventh grade, I wear a button down shirt and a tie as often as I could, I thought it was awesome. And if I was in this day and age as a seventh grader, might I have used different language around it. Maybe I don’t, I don’t know. But I know that I loved me to tie. And so if kids are coming home and saying, This is how I feel, ask them questions about it, get some clarity around it, let them play. Because we get to change our mind, we get to find ourselves. And if your kiddo who is Georgia was born a boy and assigned male at birth, comes home and says I feel like a girl, I’d be like, Oh, well, what does that feel like? What does that mean to you? How can I support you? Because maybe it’s a month long journey where they’re playing with it, and then they come back? And they’re like, well, actually, or maybe that’s a journey that lasts their lifetime. And we don’t know. And so when you show up with curiosity, and when you show up and ask questions, and you show up to support them, it allows them to really figure out who they are, what it feels like. Because maybe it’s about the clothes, that’s going to make them feel more themselves. Maybe it’s about the activities they do in their life that will make them feel more of themselves, maybe it’s the language. But going back to that idea that you want your child to be a happy human. How can you support them to figure out who they really are? And what’s going to make them happy. In some ways, I think about the fact that, you know, we let our kids play a whole bunch of different sports before they decide the one they want to do varsity in. If that’s the path, I was never a varsity sports person, but that kind of idea. So if they’re questioning other things in that same way, well, let them have a variety, they can safely these days, or more safely, I should say, explore and find themselves, and then be truly happy without having to hide pieces of themselves away, which makes them a happier human as they grow up.

george grombacher 13:30
The alternative is for me to take some kind of a hardline, I’m not saying me as as actually me. But as a parent, your alternative is to, to not do that and to forbid them from from engaging in this exploration and this curiosity, and that probably isn’t going to work out very well.

Dr. Marcie Beigel 13:50
It doesn’t change their reality. And the rates of suicide and suicide attempts in the queer community are astronomical. They’re the highest of anywhere, especially around teens, the rates of depression, also extremely high. And so if you take that hard line for your child, and you say, Nope, that’s not you. It doesn’t actually change who they are. It just changes how they express it, how they experience themselves in the world, whether they feel okay as a person, right. And we have the entire dynamic in Florida right now, where you can’t talk about being gay in school. It doesn’t change the people are. And there are lots of wonderful people in the queer community who are now coming out and saying, I lived in a place where I never saw anybody like me, where no one ever talked about this and I just felt out of place and lost and confused. And I still found myself. I eventually found my way through it. So if you want to make that easier for your child to hopefully help them avoid some of those really potential Dark Places, you can do that simply by saying I want to know you. Tell me what feels, what it feels like to be in your body in your soul. You know, who are you?

george grombacher 15:15
The answer is talking about it more and not trying to shut it down and talk less.

Dr. Marcie Beigel 15:19
Yeah, absolutely. Believe it or not. Yeah. And that can feel strange. Like if I don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist. Right? That’s, that’s our belief, right? We do. We do with mental health, we do it with racism, we just don’t talk about it. It won’t be there. The problem is that only benefits those with the privilege that only benefits those who are in the majority of power. Because all of the other people who are suffering and struggling are still there suffering and struggling. And not looking at it doesn’t make it easier for them, it makes it harder. So when we take the approach of I’m not going to look at I’m not looking over there doesn’t exist. We’re actually saying I’m going to make your life harder to make my life easier. And that as a parent is never something you want. But as an entire culture and society is kind of messed up.

george grombacher 16:17
Yeah. Well done. Dr. Marci. Well done. The that makes a ton of sense. We need to show up with curiosity, we need to be intentional and on purpose about these things. If if, if my kid is not talking about it, should I should I still bring it up?

Dr. Marcie Beigel 16:36
Yes. Here’s why. You don’t know what your kid is thinking about. And you don’t know what they’re talking about with their friends, at school on the playground in other places. Most parents now have some app in which they are. They can monitor what their kids are searching on the internet, but you don’t know what they’re searching on the internet either. So just because they’re not saying it to you doesn’t mean it’s not a question doesn’t mean it’s not something they’re hearing. And I am a big believer that you have to lead your children, right, you as a parent are there to help guide them and become these wonderful adults one day. That means being willing to make yourself uncomfortable for their betterment. It means you have to tell them what does it mean? What are these things that are happening? Right? We talked about this when we talked about the Ukraine? What is the message you want your kids to have about all of these important issues? What do you believe is right and true about gender identity and sexual identity? You might be learning right alongside them. But if you believe that love is love, as I do, then teach them that and say it explicitly. So that if they start questioning who they like, which, you know, I think the world would be a better place if we all had to make an intentional thought about who is the person I’m attracted to and want to be in relationship with rather than defaulting in. But if we stop and make that intentional conversation with them, then when they start to think

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