THINGS TO DO AND THINGS TO AVOID

Do take care of yourself. As airline flight attendants say, “In the case of an emergency, put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help your child.” In other words, take care of your own mental health needs, whether that is by seeking professional counseling, by connecting with peer supporters, or by simply leaving your child with a friend or relative now and then so you can have a few hours to yourself. Just like your child, you deserve to be well.

Do answer all of your child’s questions regarding his or her DSD. Speak honestly and plainly. If you do not know the answer, either ask your physician or refer to Chapter 7 OTHER RESOURCES (WHERE TO LEARN MORE).

Do speak honestly with your children, close family, and trusted friends. There is no reason to keep the truth and your feelings all bottled up with those in your close circle. Remember at the same time, it is important to respect your child’s privacy if he or she requests that you not disclose information at specific times or to specific individuals.

Do provide your child with as much information about his or her DSD as he or she desires.

Do create and welcome opportunities for you and your child to discuss your child’s DSD.

Do, if at all possible, occasionally provide an opportunity for your child to speak with a mental health professional (social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist) who is educated and has experience dealing with DSDs.

Do encourage your child to interact with other children who have DSDs. Peer support groups are listed in the section called “Support Groups and Diagnosis-Specific Information”.

Don’t lie to or mislead your child about any aspect of his or her DSD or medical history.

Don’t try to convince your child to identify with a gender other than one that your child feels comfortable with.

Do teach your child to tell you if anyone touches him or her in a way that is uncomfortable or painful.

Don’t refer to your child’s genitals or other anatomy (including internal organs and genes) as abnormal.

Don’t go overboard and force your child to talk about DSDs too frequently, even though it is important to provide a safe environment for you and your child to discuss these issues. Constantly bringing up these issues when your child does not want to talk about them may make the issues seem bigger than they should be.

Do encourage your child to learn more about his or her DSD as he or she grows.