It’s a good idea to tell your children about your intention to transition, around the same time you tell the important adults in your life. Kids have “the longest ears in the world” and pick up all kinds of information, especially if it’s going to affect them. Left to their own devices, children can interpret things very differently from adults.
It’s usually best to tell your kids as soon as possible and in language they understand. For them to find out from a third-party or accidentally can be very painful.
- Keep your message simple – they’re usually not interested in all the details. Take care, they don’t assume you’ve got a sickness or a life-threatening illness. A child’s fears can often morph into something else entirely!
- Encourage a feeling of normalcy about your transition. You don’t want them to think there’s something ‘secret’ about your transition. If you don’t know something – just say so. It’s easy to say, “I’m not sure about that one yet.”
- Try not to be evasive. Being evasive will only mean your child might think you’re hiding something and that’s the last thing you want.
- Tell them in terms they understand. Be available to answer their questions in ways that suit their level of understanding. A teenager or young adult will comprehend more (and might ask more questions) than a five-year-old.
- It can be better to tell kids separately when there’s a difference in ages and ability to understand, A five-year-old usually accepts these things more readily and simply than a teenager or young adult.
- Address their fears directly. Usually their biggest fears tend to revolve around any risk they might see with their place next to you. They want to know you’re not going to abandon them.
- Kids tend to form their own views about things based on how things affect them. If they see you’re happier, more comfortable in yourself and around in their lives like usual, they’ll respond accordingly.
- Will my kids call me ‘Dad’? This process is so personal. It will depend on what you and your child are comfortable with. There are no hard and fast rules for this process.
- Some children call their birth-parent by a first name. Others use a combination of names. You might need to consider a compromise you’re comfortable with (at least in the short-term).
Children can be very inventive and also sensitive to your feelings. As your physical appearance changes, ask them what they’re comfortable with. If you ask them, it will confirm to them you care about their feelings and opinions.
Below are two publications written by GIRES in the UK for FTM Australia which you are welcome to print off and use with your own children.