Identity refers to our sense of who we are, and how we define ourselves. In a society filled with bias and discrimination, it’s more important than ever to have love for our true selves, and accept that of others. Positive identity development for all is difficult because of prejudice toward people of color, LGBTQ people, women, those with disabilities, undocumented people, those who aren’t Christian, and many other groups. There aren’t many spaces where people can safely discuss how aspects of their identities shape life experience, and their mental health. That’s why I’m here.
Promoting Positive Identity Development for Loved Ones
- Support all choices of self-expression through your loved one’s choices of clothing, jewelry, hairstyle, social scene etc.
- Stand up for your loved one if they are mistreated because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Do not minimize the social pressure or bullying they may be facing. Ask how you can help them feel safe.
- Make it clear to others that slurs or jokes based on race, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation, violence or ignorance are not tolerated. Express your disapproval of these types of jokes or slurs when you encounter them in the community, and with family.
- Understand that the way people identify their sexual orientation or gender identity may change over time as they discover more about themselves. When someone discloses his or her identity to you, respond in an affirming, supportive way.
- Use the pro nouns your loved one asks you use. Correct yourself if you make a mistake.
- Just listen. When your loved one needs to express how they feel.
- Research other ways you can continue to build empathy and support for your loved one, without asking them how.