Author, Stacy Ruse LPC, EMDRIA Approved Consultant & DBT Certified Therapist
The world is calling for more inclusive and compassionate ways to communicate and understand the full spectrum of gender, sexuality, and relationship preferences. Let's explore what "inclusion" means - it is about welcoming, accepting, and advancing a diverse mix of peoples.
It is imperative that as a parent, teacher, counselor, or anyone caring for children that we expand our knowledge and scope of understanding to the wide and beautiful spectrum that exists in terms of topics on gender, inclusivity, sexuality, and LGBTQIA+.
And yes, it is changing fast, with new belief systems and language coming all the time. At times it may seem daunting when you worry about knowing everything or getting it right, yet when we relax into changes we can feel the excitement of witnessing the broadening happening across the world. And our children will have so many more opportunities to love and accept themselves and others, and all parts of them, rather than having to ignore, suppress, question, and shame natural feelings, urges, questions, and seeking and exploration behaviors.
If you or a loved one has experience suppression, oppression, confusion, shame, and/or other traumas around sexuality, gender, inclusivity, etc., compassionate and inclusive counseling from qualified licensed professionals can help.
Many people fear changes, and have anxiety children will be hurt, confused, or judged. And are scared to talk about these subjects at all, fearing something bad will happen and yet, in truth, it is quite the opposite. It allows children and the upcoming generations to find a greater sense of acceptance in their own sense of self and authenticity in the world.
If you need coaching or want an inclusive setting to have healthy conversations, counseling can help. Also, it is important that if you have a child or teen who having difficulty with any of these topics and more, counseling with a licensed professional can be a crucial step
Our younger generations, and ALL who have for too long been ostracized, marginalized, and judged are speaking out and demanding that we have difficult and real conversations that promote change. This includes with each other, and with our children.
As a parent, caregiver, or teacher, it can be difficult to know the right thing to say when kids question what we deem to be adult topics. Broaching topics of sexuality can be awkward for both parties; however, it is a necessary and very important conversation to have. And it is crucial to have some knowledge and understanding and to approach it with an open heart. It takes willingness, openness, and compassion.
Want to learn more skills, develop great empathy and compassion for self and others, and become more mindful. Try our DBT Skills Groups for adults or teens.
When it comes to talking about gender and sexuality, and the wide spectrum that continues to expand in preferences, children should be given truthful age-appropriate information so they can better understand and empathize with themselves and with others. Regardless of whether your child identifies now or in the future with LGBTQIA+, having a conversation about LGBTQIA+ issues will help reduce prejudice while teaching compassion and empathy.
This is powerful, as it can, directly and indirectly, reduce tensions, anxiety, social awkwardness, interpersonal difficulties, and enhance wellbeing, inclusivity, and acceptance.
When to Talk
It’s never too late to start a conversation on issues of sexuality with your children. While there may be initial discomfort and reluctance from preadolescent children and older, ultimately having these discussions with your children will help them develop a sense of safety and security with you, while it teaches them tolerance and acceptance.
For young children, the age of 5 is generally a good time to begin discussing these topics by sharing some basic information with them.
What to Say
For very young children, keep the conversation simple and focus on basic concepts. When talking about sexuality, you can explain to your child that just as a man and a woman can fall in love, so can a man with a man, and a woman with a woman. When talking about transgender individuals, you can explain that how a person looks on the outside isn’t always how they feel on the inside. You can refer to the familiar adage about “not judging a book by its cover.”
Children should understand the basic concept that there are all kinds of people in this world, and that is what makes us all special and beautiful, like the colors in a rainbow. Allow the colors to be different, each one is amazing on its own and when combined to form a rainbow is magical.
Encourage them to ask you questions as they explore the world. Stay curious with children, they have a sense of wonder that we all need and should be encouraged and validated. Just as they see a rabbit for the first time, they ask "what is that"? This is from a place of curiosity and wonder, not judgment.
If we allow them to ask, explore, and provide back loving, truthful, age-appropriate, and compassionate feedback they will learn to engage in the world from this place. How powerful and wonderful is that?
Our own willingness, openness, and curiosity go a long way and will foster that in children. Or maybe it is the other way around, if we let them, they can foster it in us. Either way, it is transformative and healing.
Stay mindful, and be careful to not consciously, or unconsciously, give answers or communicate verbally or nonverbally in judgmental, confusing, and/or biased ways. Nor ignore a child's or your own curiosity. For mental health and wellbeing, you want to communicate in a way that celebrates all people. We all are and equally deserving of love, acceptance, and respect. And if we all treated each other, and ourselves, this way, what a world it would be.
The research shows it all starts with self-compassion, and it can totally transform us and the world around us. “Compassion is, by definition, relational.
Compassion literally means 'to suffer with,' which implies a basic mutuality in the experience of suffering. The emotion of compassion springs from the recognition that the human experience is imperfect.”
― Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself
If this is difficult for you to do, due to what you have experienced in your life, please seek compassionate support. What happened to you and how you were communicated may have impacted you and left you judgmental, in pain, angry, or hateful. If you are mindful enough to recognize this and willing to explore it, wonderful. Please don't beat yourself up to more, or hate yourself more, as that created more of the problem in the world. Counseling can help, so you can move through pain, trauma, and open your heart to more wellness as well. This will help you and the children and others in your life tremendously.
Remember You Don’t Have to Know Everything
Your child may have questions that you can’t answer. It’s okay to admit to your child when you don’t know the right answer. This could be a discussion point for later after you’ve done some research, or it could be a good opportunity for you to learn from your child.
Take time to explore, ask others as well, stay humble and you will build a stronger relationship with yourself self and the children in your life.
The Addictions Support group
When: The last Saturday of the Month
Cost: Private Pay $30
This group is open to adults who have been impacted by a friend or family member with addiction. This is an education and support group focused on teaching skills to help family and friends be more effective with their family/friend. Each month we will cover a different topic.
The April 27th group will cover:
Self Care: Caring for ourselves as well as our addicted family member or friend.
This group is for anyone currently in DBT or recently graduated (within the last year) who would benefit from learning additional DBT skills specific to changing behaviors that they do not feel in control over yet.
These are additional skills that are covered more fully than in standard DBT. By the end of the group, clients will have learned specific skills to help them to decrease their problem behaviors.
This group would be helpful for anyone currently in DBT who continues to struggle with controlling certain behaviors.
The group would especially be helpful for those with:
Problems over spending/ shopping
Treatment Resistant Depression
Eating Disorder behaviors
Drinking and Drug use
Gambling and other addictions.
If interested, clients should speak to their Individual Therapist about a referral or discuss this in their DBT intake.
Opioid abuse can affect anyone and cause excessive pain. Its impact on relationships and families can be devastating. If you're the partner of a person with an opioid abuse, it can be distressing even looking for evidence of misuse. No matter the upset, however, it's important to be open about addiction, and encourage treatment. Only through recognizing addiction and committing to treatment can couples start to heal and rebuild a relationship.
The Warning Signs
Looking for indications of opioid abuse can be difficult, especially if they are hesitant to discuss any of your suspicions. There will be many physical symptoms, such as nausea, drowsiness, and constricted pupils, but other signs can give the sort of tangible evidence necessary to discuss what can be a hugely sensitive matter. You may notice extra pill bottles in the garbage, or that your loved one has been taking more than their prescribed dosage. Sudden financial issues may arise that can't be easily explained. Your loved one may become less social and more avoidant of their interests and responsibilities. It will be important to look out for any patterns of behavior that either contribute or enable addiction.
The stereotype of intervention, as portrayed by popular media, is one of confrontation. Dealing with addiction, however, may require much more tact to be successful as “tough love” interventions can be counterproductive. Arguing, even pleading, is likely to fall on deaf ears. Being the partner of an person with a substance abuse disorder is distressing, of course, but it's important to pursue positive communication as a crucial step to recovery. Encourage your partner to recognize their addiction, and help them move on from denial. Seeking professional support will be essential. This could include treatment at a recovery center, either as an inpatient or outpatient, and some form of addiction therapy. Recovery will be an ongoing process, and likely require a combination of treatments. All this can be overwhelming, so consider support for yourself as well. Some groups can provide a space where your experiences will resonate with others, giving you a place to seek advice and be listened to.
Repairing the damage addiction causes is a long-term process, both for recovery and the rebuilding of relationships. With time and patience, things can get better. Together with professional recovery support, it can be truly beneficial to commit to couples therapy. This can become an essential part of the healing process, as it can create a supportive environment that can encourage greater openness about the struggles that are being faced, and provide guidance for self-care. While professional support is key, consider also pursuing activities that you can do as a couple that are separate from recovery. Shared experiences, whether it's learning new skills or volunteering locally, can help some way to mending the relationship. Not only that, but it may give someone going through recovery much-needed purpose and focus to further strengthen their commitment to sobriety. There will be plenty of challenges, and some of the hardest will be dealing with forgiveness, understanding, and restoring trust as you both continue to heal.
Sometimes, unfortunately, no matter what is done, healing may be possible only through separation. It can be heartrending reconciling yourself with such a proposition. You may already have been advised by a counselor to practice positive reinforcement, wherein you spend time with your partner only when they are not impaired by substances. But this, of course, is different. Communicating this is important, but even the prospect of separation can do little if the addiction has taken such a desperate toll on your loved one. Nevertheless, if your own well-being is in peril, or you have children, separation may ultimately be the most viable option for everyone concerned.
Addiction is a treatable condition. Through patience and understanding, couples can rebuild their relationship, heal whatever damage there is, and create a healthy future free of substance abuse. Couples may find that communication and trust has been strengthened through their experiences. The process will be hard and addiction will not be overcome quickly, but it's important to remember that healing will be possible no matter what happens to the relationship.
Achieving Your Goals
Anxiety + Depression
A Therapist’s Perspective
Children & Adolescents
Couples & Marriage
Mental Health Clinciains
Mental Health In The Media
The LGBTQIA+ Community