Authenticity, or authentic self, is something I hear thrown around a lot these days. But what does it really mean?
In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, Brene Brown says authenticity is the antidote to shame. She defines authenticity as “a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
She goes on to state that it is a daily practice required of us if we are going to show up as our true selves. It takes courage to not just know who we are but to live it and stand for it. It means answering truthfully when asked, “how are you?” and to let your no’s mean no and your yeses mean yes.
I believe authenticity is even more important for us as LGBTQIA+ parents than most for 3 reasons:
1. We are models for our children.
If we want them to develop awareness of themselves and live out their authentic self, we must show them how it’s done. Allowing others to see us for who we are gives them permission to do the same. And as individuals often afraid to be seen for you they are, our children need us to be role models of the courage it takes to be seen.
2. We are often called on to set boundaries and boundaries call for us to be authentic.
We must know who we are, what we stand for, and what we are willing to accept and tolerate before we can set healthy boundaries for ourselves and our children. In our family that has meant setting boundaries around family members who do not use the correct name and pronouns for my son. In order to create those boundaries, both my son and I must be willing to be seen as ourselves and know where we stand.
3. Being authentic creates connection.
As LGBTQIA+ parents, we are faced with so many unique conversations and situations. When our children see us as someone that is going to talk straight with them, they are able to connect with us on a deeper level and have those conversations. This includes saying “I don’t know,” and “this is hard for me too.”
Authenticity also allows us to create a connection with ourselves, one of trust and compassion for our own experience. Being an LGBTQIA+ parent often involves feelings we didn’t expect and sometimes don’t know how to express.
Authenticity allows us to create connection with others. It allows us to reach out to someone when we want or need support for those unexpected emotions and challenges. It’s so important we be able to seek out our own support rather than place that emotional labor onto our children. Having an authentic relationship with ourself also allows us to be vulnerable with another person to share. Which also goes back to #1, modeling from our children seeking out support as we need it.
If you are wanting or needing that support, please reach out via email at email@example.com. I would be honored to answer any questions you have or schedule a time to meet.