Schools, Families, and Communities in Action, Revised Edition
Edited By Elizabeth J. Meyer and Annie Pullen Sansfaçon
Chapter Eight: Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The Experience of Parents of Gender-Nonconforming Boys
← 110 | 111 →CHAPTEREIGHT
By their varying levels of support or rejection, parents of gender-nonconforming boys1 have a significant impact on their child’s welfare.2 As a psychologist having worked with many of these families over the years, the author observed that they faced common struggles and challenges. This chapter reports on findings of a study by the author designed to contribute to our understanding of these parents’ experiences, more specifically, our understanding of the factors that may influence their responses to their child’s gender expression. The author’s objective was to explore how three dimensions of the parental experience are related to one another: (1) how they explain their child’s gender expression, in other words how they answer the question, “Why is my child like this?”; (2) what feelings their child’s gender expression evokes in them; and (3) what behaviors they adopt to limit or support the child’s gender expression.
The chapter begins with a brief description of the context from which the research question emerged: the ubiquitous and well-documented stigmatization these children endure and the impact on their mental health and their development. The author then explains the reason parents of boys rather than girls were chosen as the object of the study. This is followed by an overview of what previous research tells us about these parents and their responses to their child’s atypical ← 111 | 112 →gender expression. This effort to contextualize the research questions serves as an introduction for the principal aim of the chapter: to give...
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