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With the holiday season in full swing, and family gatherings continuing, many of us might be feeling a mix of emotions (excitement, fear, anxiety), as we near these events.
Psychologist and trauma expert, Dr. Karol Darsa, reached out to OUTvoices with some great advice on how to manage and assess your trauma and anxiety including what exactly to do when you get triggered by those you inevitably must see at this time of year.
Dr. Darsa answers our questions here:
What do you recommend in a situation where a LGBTQ person is seated at a family dinner with a politically challenging relative who makes provocative comments?
Dr. Darsa: In a situation where an LGBTQ individual is seated with a family relative that has challenging views and has homophobic ideation, it is important to understand where those beliefs are coming from and be open to educating them. Homophobia comes from fear, which is not something that human beings are born with. Fears are learned from their families’, environmental factors, and experiences.
Those fears persist because of their lack of knowledge surrounding the LGBTQ community and unwillingness to go out of their ways to educate themselves. So, in a situation where you have to deal with homophobia within your family it is helpful to see where this “fear” is coming from, and correct their knowledge if appropriate and provide them with the understanding that being LGBTQ is part of your identity and will never change. It is also important not to take that family relative’s beliefs about your sexual choices and gender identity personally, as again their hatred is born from a lack of knowledge regarding the whole LGBTQ community and it is not targeted to you. While dealing with people with challenging beliefs and homophobic ideation, the best approach to have is knowing that you are perfect no matter what your identity is and it will never change, it is who you are, and people may have an issue with that but it shouldn’t change how you feel about yourself.
When a person is not "out" to all of the family either about their sexual orientation or their gender - and prying questions can be asked or assumptions can be made, how should that person be themselves while trying to keep the peace?
Dr. Darsa: If a person is not “out” to all of the family about their sexual/gender identity, it is important that they focus on their safety before doing so. If they are concerned about their safety in the case that they come out to a relative that has challenging beliefs and is homophobic, it is important to determine if coming out is the best option. Questions like whether coming out to that specific person is going to increase my life quality, does it make a difference in my life that they come out to that specific person, is coming out to that specific person going to change my identity or make me more comfortable with it, what are the pros and cons, could be asked. If in that situation, coming out is what makes you feel comfortable and not coming out is taking a toll on your wellbeing, doing so is a good idea. However, safety should always be considered.
What is your recommendation for a transgender person going back to their childhood home - if the parents and relatives still think of them as the assigned / birth gender? This can be very traumatic especially if there are old photos or belongings still in the house.
Dr. Darsa: It would be the best if a communication is made ahead of time. Maybe before the person goes back home they can clarify things ahead of time, so there are no surprises and confrontations in person. Hopefully, there will be some family members who are supportive along with others who are judgmental. Asking for extra support during thee times would be very helpful.
Holiday events are often held in compressed time spans - a few hours or a couple of days - and in an environment from which there is no "escape" like a restaurant or relative's house. This creates pressure on both sides to address what's new, how everyone is, what's changed. What is a good way to remove tension, anxiety, and pressure from these situations - without drinking?
Dr. Darsa: The best way is to address the elephant in the room openly rather than trying to avoid the conversation. The way you communicate about who you are can make things easier. Don’t apologize for who you are and sue good humor to ease tension.
Advice for bringing a new partner home for the holidays?
Dr. Darsa: Focus on the love and let your family members know how happy you are. Remind them the most important thing in life is that your partner is making you happy.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson has signed a proclamation designating November 2021, as Adoption Awareness Month in Missouri to encourage all Missourians to educate themselves regarding the need for adoptive families and support adoptive parents in their communities.
State statute, regulation, and/or agency policy prohibits discrimination in foster care based on sexual orientation, according to Family Equality.
“As we enter the holiday season and Missourians prepare to enjoy quality time with their friends, family, and loved ones, we are reminded of the need to support the children in our state that may lack a stable home or loving family,” Governor Parson said. “Every child needs and deserves to be loved and cared for by a family of their own. This November, during Adoption Awareness Month, we encourage Missourians to consider adoption and to always support adoptive families. We must open our hearts, our homes, and our lives to these special children that ask only for a family.”
Nearly 1,600 children and youth are currently waiting and hoping to find forever homes with loving families. The Missouri Adoption Heart Gallery features profiles of some of these amazing children and youth and one Missouri family has shared their own personal adoption story.
“We appreciate all of the adoptive families who offer a loving home and a foundation of support to allow children to grow and thrive,” said Robert J. Knodell, Acting Director of the Department of Social Services. “Every child deserves a safe, permanent place to call home. There is always a need for additional adoptive families in Missouri to help ensure more children have this opportunity.”
You could potentially become an adoptive parent if you:
- Are at least 21 years of age
- Complete a child abuse/neglect check and criminal record check including fingerprints
- Are in good health, both physically and mentally
- Have a stable income
- Are willing to participate in and complete a free training and assessment process
- Are willing to voice perspectives and concerns as part of a professional team
The Department of Social Services (DSS) encourages any Missourian interested in adoption to visit the DSS website, contact their local Children's Division office, or email Moheartgallery@raisethefuture.orgfor more detailed information on Missouri’s adoption process.
To view the proclamation, click here.
Parenting is difficult. It is a constant dance between freedom and flexibility, rules and restrictions. When your child is struggling, the parenting instinct kicks in and you want to do everything you can to take away the pain. Plus, if your child is questioning, exploring, or coming out with their sexuality or gender identity, it can be even more difficult to offer support. If you are the parent or caregiver of a LGBTQIA+ youth, whether you raised your child from birth or are someone like me who is a member of the community and serves as a parental figure to LGBTQIA+ youth, what’s important is that you consistently show up and provide support.
In my role as a Clinical Director and licensed clinical psychologist, I strive to advocate, promote, and integrate best clinical practices within quality programming for everyone. I have worked with so many fantabulous LGBTQIA+ youth and parents in the community in various ways, and bore witness to their unique struggles while doing my best to meet their needs. And, let me tell you (and you likely already know this), with love and support, you can make a huge difference.
Over the years, I’ve identified some suggestions I’d like to share with you on how to be supportive of the LGBTQIA+ youth in your life…
Be present and tell them you love them and support them.
For many, coming out to the people who love them is the scariest part. Not only verbalize your love, but show them by supporting and accepting them no matter what. Unconditional love is worth more than anything.
Keep the door open and encourage them to talk to you.
Get to know their friends and find out what’s going on in their lives. Staying connected to your child’s everyday world makes it easier for them to talk to you about big issues, like sexuality or gender identity. Be aware of your small reactions to new information or things that you may not understand, your child will notice.
Get the facts.
Being gay is not "just a phase," and there is no "cure." Being gender-diverse or transgender is not a social fad. Be excited to learn about unique aspects of your child! Celebrate your wonderful, glorious child and be accepting of who they are, as they are, and who they become. This is a chance to open your mind AND your heart. Not sure about the facts? Check out: www.pflag.org, www.thetrevorproject.org, or for local support check out https://onenten.org/ or Phoenix Children Hospital’s resource guide at https://www.phoenixchildrens.org/gender-support-program/programs-services/resources.
Stay connected with their teachers.
School is hard for mostly everyone. Your child spends a lot of time at school, and it can be a breeding ground for tough situations and bullying. Maintain frequent contact with teachers and other adults on campus. Don't be afraid to speak up if you think there is a problem. Bullying is a real problem for all students, but research shows that LGBTQIA+ youth are more likely to be victims of bullying than their straight cis-gender peers.
If your child shows sudden and/or significant changes in behavior, new/increased discipline or behavioral issues at school, declining grades, or unexplained absences, talk to your child. Give them the space to share with you what might be happening. Equally as important, do you have access to your child’s social media accounts? Social media can often shed light on what is happening at school and within their peer groups. There is a delicate line to walk between personal space and prying, but it is worth navigating. Cyber bullying is very real and incredibly toxic, and there are repercussions for bullies. Schools have a legal duty to have policies and procedures to protect students from bullies.
Please remember, you are not alone. There are resources and support networks available to help you navigate these situations. Check out the Phoenix or Tucson chapter of PFLAG, the nation’s largest organization for LGBTQIA+ people, their parents and families, and allies.
If you want to speak with someone, Southwest Behavioral & Health Services’ school and community-based counseling services can offer support and resources.
About the author
Dr. William Marsh is a Clinical Director and a primary supervisor for the APA accredited clinical psychology internship program with Southwest Behavioral & Health Services. With all areas of his work, he incorporates his passion for fostering positive interpersonal dynamics that help others identify, support, and reach their goals and dreams. More information about programs and services is available at www.sbhservices.org.
We know what you are thinking, spring is THE home-buying season, and traditionally, that is true. Spring has conventionally been what prospective home buyers begin their search for a new home. After the chilly winter months, people are excited to be outside, and freshly landscaped properties look their best. However, fall home buying is becoming more and more a trend for thrifty homebuyers. Here are some reasons why:
With so many people shopping in the spring and summer months, there is the potential to sidestep an overly heated market. You won’t feel as much pressure to make so many concessions, chase supply and max out your possible bid as a buyer. Additionally, you may have more opportunities to negotiate with the sellers. This will allow you to shop for your dream home instead of having to settle for what you can find.
If a homeowner is choosing to sell in the off-season, chances are that they are more motivated than your average seller. This could be for any number of reasons, but one thing most of these sellers will have in common is that they likely want to have the whole process completed ahead of the holiday season. Keep a close eye on how long your potential dream house has been on the market. The longer a home is listed, the more likely the seller may be willing to negotiate, not only on price but also on other relevant details like closing costs and move-in dates.
Year-End Tax Breaks
Your home is not only an excellent investment because it helps you build equity, but owning a home also grants you access to substantial tax breaks. Purchasing your home before the year is out allows you to claim some deductions on your taxes, such as property tax and mortgage interest deductions for the entire calendar year. Come April, this could be a significant advantage. Consult your tax professional when determining how to best leverage the timing of your home purchasing decision.
All Eyes on You
When spring rolls around and homebuyers are a dime a dozen, it is easy for real estate industry professionals, from agents to lenders, to be overwhelmed with the number of customers they are servicing. Completing your home purchase during the fall season allows these professionals to spend more time and energy assisting you through the process. Their lighter schedules and workload can make all the difference in an already stressful situation.
We all know that when you are home during the spring and summer months, when the neighborhood may be more vacant due to vacations, you only get a small piece of the puzzle. Real-life starts to kick back into gear around September, and this is when you will see a more realistic view of what the neighborhood is like; plus, neighbors will be around for you to meet and ask any lingering questions you may have, like do they like living in the community? How long do people typically live in the area? What’s their opinion on the local schools, etc. This will help you get the most context of your prospective neighborhood to better inform your home buying decision.
This is especially important for introverts in the home buying process, as a quiet neighborhood is a must.
Lower Listing Prices
Whether it is because of the cooler temperatures, a rigorous back-to-school schedule, or a motivated seller’s market, the fall is statistically when you get the best deal when shopping for a home. According to RealtyTrac, depending on where you are looking to purchase your new dream home, you could pay 2.6% below full market value if you buy in October. With an average home purchase price of $340,000 in 2021, the $8,840 in savings!
Real Deal Weather
Dream home shopping in not-so-perfect weather may sound like more of a chore than a perk, but that’s not the case. Touring homes during a rainy October afternoon or a freezing November morning will help take the rose-tint from your glasses and give you a crystal clear look at the home you are thinking of buying. Seeing a home when the grayer months roll around can answer some critical questions about it holds up under the inclement weather. Are there areas needing repair you wouldn’t have noticed in the warmer seasons? How does the interior feel when it’s dark and cold out? This is relevant to know when you and the family will be spending more time inside than out.
Evaluating a future dream home without pristine landscaping, which can camouflage many flaws, is also important. Not only you will be much more privy to exterior paint issues, worn roofs, and possible foundation cracks, but you will have a much clearer picture of the effort your landscaping will take once the leaves start to drop and the blooms have faded.
Home for the Holidays
Besides sellers being eager to complete their own real estate journey before the holiday season takes off, being able to celebrate the upcoming holiday season in your dream home can be another wonderful reason to choose fall as the perfect time to shop for your new home.
About the Author
Hippo is an InsurTech company that’s reimagining home insurance through the lens of homeowners – building policies with more comprehensive coverage for today’s consumers at up to 20% less than competitors.