In February, Elena Joy Thurston was a guest on the Energy is Love Podcast hosted by spouses Steph and Craig. Their conversation was abundant in subject matter, but one main thread stood out among all of this: helpful information for surviving and thriving change and transformations in relationship dynamics, particularly around parent and child.
Change is hard. We are creatures of habit. Transformations are challenging, but so powerful. We are constantly witnessing transformations around us: Spring has arrived, caterpillars turn to butterflies, clouds pass us in the sky, taking their own shapes in fractions of time. It’s natural. So shouldn’t we be more intune when it happens in our own families and households? You would think.
Whether, like Elena mentioned in the interview, you are a parent coming out to your children, or a parent with a child coming out about their gender or sexuality, or even a parent dealing with a late teen/early adult coming home after living away for a while, the reality is, things are changing. Transformations are occurring. The relationship dynamics are reconfiguring.
Whatever transformation you may find yourself or a loved one a part of, they may not always be easy, but they aren’t impossible. Here are some helpful takeaways from the conversation with hosts Steph and Craig at the Energy is Love Podcast and Elena Joy Thurston, our founder of the Pride and Joy Foundation that you can take into your home and beyond.
Tip 1: Self Awareness.
Self awareness is key. Who are you outside of what you do for work? Who are you outside of your dependencies, like being a parent? It is important to give yourself freedom to be curious about yourself and know your core values especially during transitions and changes. As a parent, finding out who you are outside of being a parent is hard. How much does parenthood dictate your thoughts, feelings and behaviors? What is authentic to you?
Sometimes this idea of being self-aware can be profound. In the podcast, Elena questions, at what point of self is a trauma response, and what happens when I pull trauma away, who even am I? This is such a good question. Change and transformation can trigger trauma responses. Recognize that.
For a while, Elena speaks about having an identity at a point in time as “daughter of god” and examines how much of that identity was based on behavior. Build an identity within the foundational belief you have. Separating these concepts can help move forward.
Tip 2: Honor the Grief.
Grief comes in many forms, we know this. It may include letting go of a reality you have for your children, yourself, or other family members. This happens in divorce, coming out, breakups, job changes, you will find grief and its many forms in so many situations. So how do you honor grief when the person(s) involved in the grief are still living, and sometimes even still in your day-to-day situation? Here is an example.
There is a post on the Pride and Joy Foundation Instagram page of a picture of Kristen making bread early on the pandemic with the kids. And Elena writes in the description:
“When Kristen’s mom realized just a few years ago that her daughter’s life was much different than her dream, it wasn’t an easy reality to accept…I try to stay aware of that. I stay focused on relating to her as a fellow mom. It’s the healthiest strategy for me... I know this isn’t the life she dreamed of for her daughter. And there is a grief there that is to be honored.”
In many ways, this image is honoring the grief, but also honoring Kristen’s mom. Making bread with the kids is still part of Kristen’s mom’s dream, it’s just different. And how beautiful and magical is that?
Tip 3: Allow for space/separation.
Sometimes we may not be a safe space for a loved one to be vulnerable with. As a parent, or a protector, this is a hard concept to swallow. Awareness of this is a first step. When there are shifts and changes during a period of space or separation, recognize people change.
Often as parents, we find ourselves seeing children in their younger selves, but we need to allow for different versions of our children. Reactions will change, and our behaviors need to change and allow for that space to process and grow.
This can call for self forgiveness. That isn’t always easy either, but sometimes the best way for self forgiveness is to move more fully into another version of yourself. And if you are recognizing changes in your children as they emerge into a new version of themselves, honor that and allow for the changes.
Tip 4: Seek Therapy.
Steph and Craig talk about how much therapy has helped in their relationship dynamics with each other and also with their children. Therapy is a great way to peel off layers of external identity to help find your core values and beliefs. Which is great for self-awareness in situations of transformation and change. If you are willing and able, it is highly recommended that at the least see a therapist individually, and even better, additional therapy for your family.
We understand therapy is expensive and not everyone has access to affordable therapy, or even feels comfortable finding a therapist. If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend looking for local LGBTQ+ centers for resources in your community that may provide affordable or in some casts, no-cost options.
Tip 5: Be Patient.
Easier said than done, of course. But it’s so true. Patience is necessary to navigate changes. It requires patience with yourself and others in any sort of change or transition. The process of change can bring up old wounds, which can trigger trauma responses. But with patience, a step back and some self-awareness, things can slowly start to balance out again as you and your loved ones come together and re-configure relationship dynamics.
Whether you are a parent coming out to your children and/or family, or you are a parent of a child who is coming out with their gender or sexuality, remember to be gentle and loving. Remember there will be things that come up you may or may not understand about yourself, or others involved. This is OK. Allow for space, time, healing and forgiveness as you and your loved ones navigate the changes and transformations together. You can still be helpful without overstepping boundaries.
For a deeper dive into this conversation, listen to the Energy is Love Podcast episode with Elena Joy Thurston as a guest. And be sure to check out more information about parenting support by joining our community at Pride and Joy Parents.