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Kids don’t come with an instruction manual. Sometimes parents need a little help too.

Dr. Jazmine, the mom psychologist
Dr. Jazmine, the Mom PsychologistPhoto:

Dr. Jazmine McCoy knows that LGBTQ youth face high rates of parental rejection. As a mother and clinical psychologist, she has tirelessly worked to educate parents on how they can break cycles of abuse to raise healthy, confident kids.

McCoy, herself a mother of two, knows that kids don’t come with an instruction manual. That’s why she uses her fun and nurturing personality to help overwhelmed and exhausted parents connect with their children, even when their behavior seems difficult or confusing.

“When trying to decide how to teach your kids about the topics of gender and sexual orientation, it’s best to err on the side of following their lead versus planning a long lecture or conversation about this topic,” McCoy wrote on her advice-filled Instagram account, @TheMomPsychologist. “It’s important to educate yourself about gender identities so that you’re prepared to answer your child’s questions. Pay attention to their questions and comments and lean into these conversations, no matter how they are started.”

In her numerous videos, podcasts, social media posts, and TV appearances, she has consistently encouraged parents not to fear the social challenges and strong emotions that their kids face. However, she says that building a foundation of tolerance, compassion, and acceptance can happen in many ways through smaller day-to-day moments.

“Start teaching the general concept that diversity is beautiful and to be celebrated,” McCoy says. “You can start by showing your child unconditional acceptance of their interests and passions, even if they don’t fit with gender stereotypes.”

She also suggests making a conscious effort to expose kids to diverse children and families — through books, media, and friendships, and avoiding any derogatory language, badmouthing, or laughing at jokes that discriminate against others.

Parents may feel helpless when faced with social challenges and LGBTQ issues facing their kids. But by healing their own triggers and wounds, apologizing for their mistakes, and allowing kids to have their own minds, opinions, and boundaries, parents can improve their perception of themselves and their kids.

“Through this work, we begin to see our children for who they are and what they need,” she said.

Doing this not only cements a loving, lifelong bond, but it can also help both parents and their kids transform into strong, capable individuals who can help heal and empower others too.