Donor Conception

Help them take pride – 5 ways to empower donor-conceived kids

Eloise Edington  |   20 Jun 2022


Words by Jessie Day

In collab with Sensitive Matters, and special friends from our LGBTQ+ community, we’ve put together our top tips for raising confident donor-conceived children, empowering them to take pride in all that they are. 

Pride is important. From Pride Month itself, to taking pride in who you are, pride in all its forms is precious. As a community, we need to help build, support and supercharge our pride, helping it to grow. 

Donor-conceived children are surrounded by pride. But how can we ensure they’re empowered to be proud of themselves, not just because of their origins and story, but because of the person they are and the magic they bring to the world? 

Celebrating Pride Month 2022, here are a few thoughts on how we can help to raise happy donor-conceived adults, proud to be the magical humans they are.

The benefits of reading time

For Sensitive Matters, it’s about finding the right words. Founded by Sali Odendaal in 2017, this amazing online publisher creates beautiful, personalised products covering sensitive subjects. From books for donor-conceived children, starring their own story heroes as avatars, to books for fostered and/or adopted kids, their age range goes from 0-8, adding real-life magic to family reading time. 

Plus, a whole lot of space for discussion, talking and questions. All so important, when building a sense of pride.

Long-time friend of the FHH family Laura-Rose Thorogood, co-founder of LGBT Mummies, and mum to three donor-conceived kids with her wife Stacey, is a big fan. Chatting to us about the books, Laura-Rose says, 

“Education is crucial. We need to tell children they are donor-conceived in an open, honest and age-appropriate way. 

Our organisation, LGBT Mummies, passionately believes that educating children in being donor-conceived is crucial to developing an honest and healthy understanding of how they came to be.”

We also caught up with Michael and Wes, co-founders of TwoDadsUK and dads of two. Michael says, 

“Having two donor-conceived children, we found the books a fun and creative way to explain our family building journey.  The avatars are gorgeous. We have books for both of our children as we have had both known and anonymous donors.”

Keen to round off the show of hands for Sensitive Matters, Erika Tranfield – co-founder of the leading donor connection website Pride Angel agrees,

“Sharing our Sensitive Matters book with our daughters was a fantastic, visual and beautifully simple way to explain how they became. We love our family time together, reading this book.”

Pride = serotonin

We love a bit of science. Science, after all, is magical too. And did you know that the feeling of pride itself is directly linked to serotonin? This social chemical adds power to the human bond, as well as stabilising mood. So bear it in mind, when you’re helping your loved ones with their pride (or Pride). 

It’s all about the magic of being human, our community-family bond and constant, unwavering support.

5 ways to help your kids be proud

Building self-esteem, self confidence and pride in your kids takes love, focus and above all, trust. Here are our five top tips in collaboration with Sensitive Matters, for helping children take pride in themselves, and their story. 

1. Build a strong support network 

Studies show that a good support system or network, featuring strong relationships and ties you can depend on, is vitally important for family health and wellbeing. It also provides that grounding we need, to give us the platform we can spring from, and fly. 

Your support network will usually start with your home family unit, building out to include wider family, friends, childcare providers, your community and anyone else you trust and identify shared values with. 

Whether it’s the fertility world – join our amazing free Fertility Squad community now, for bags of support – or your LGBTQ+ community, therapists or healthcare pros, create a picture of who everyone is, what you can rely on them for, and ways to stay in contact. 

2. Make room for questions

It’s difficult to feel proud, if you’re coming at it from a place of awkwardness or taboo. By laying a foundation of honesty, at home, with plenty of time and space for questions, we’re helping our kids feel strong, with a super-tight family unit to back them up.

Making space for questions is also a crucial way of showing our kids we respect them, and their right to know their amazing story. And remember, younger kids won’t have a pre-conceived (so-to-speak) view on donor conception. Trust them to absorb their origins as just a part of their story, approach their questions with confidence, and watch their sense of pride grow.

 

3. Get out of their way …

Whether you’re a first time parent, a parent of donor-conceived children, something else (or all of the above), ‘helicoptering’ can become a habit. And lots of us do it completely unconsciously. 

When we helicopter, we’re over-focusing on our children, often finding it difficult to give them space to try, fail and learn.  

Helicopter parenting can range from being nervous about the child’s physical exploration, to a focus on their schoolwork or social interactions. But to take pride in themselves, kids need the freedom to develop and grow, without constant interference or correction.   

It can be difficult to let go – we know – but try to reframe it. You’re not letting go, you’re empowering them to develop self confidence, skills, esteem and pride – always present, even if it means taking a back bench at the playground. 

4 … but be a safety net 

You can get out of their way, but equally important is knowing and sensing when to step in, intervene, advocate and keep them safe. This enables and empowers pride, strengthening our bond with our children, grounding them in the knowledge that as their parents, we’re there for them 100%. 

A good example might be with a childcare provider, who isn’t aware of your child’s donor-conceived story, or a healthcare provider your family is struggling to get support from. Depending on your child’s age and situation, being their safety net allows them to head into the world, with a strong sense of self-esteem.

5. Model your pride 

If 80% of parenting is modelling (that’s the estimate), how can we use this to our advantage, when filling our kids with a sense of pride? 

Modelling is all about setting examples, doing as you say and demonstrating key behaviours and life skills for your kids. 

So if we shout a lot and are quick to flare up (yep, we all do it), our kids are more likely to see, pick up and replay this behaviour, as they develop. Modelling breathing in and out for ten seconds, laughing at life’s craziness and kindness, for example, are behaviours we may be more keen for our kids to pick up. 

Ask yourself these questions, to start building the behaviours that root your family in pride: 

  • do they see me knowing when to speak up, and when to listen?
  • do they see me surrounding myself with a strong support network?
  • do they see me taking an interest in our world? 
  • do they see me asking questions?
  • do they see me advocating and empathising?
  • do they see me reaching for the stars, learning and building the life I want?

It’s not easy to model. Or to parent. It’s an always-on role and we certainly can’t get it right 24/7. We’re human, after all, with all the flaws and emotions that brings. And that’s something to be proud of. 

FHH readers can grab an exclusive 15% off a “Magic of You” book with code FHH15 at checkout (limited time only).

Click here to make and buy the photo book and here to create and purchase the avatar version.

RELATED VIDEO: How to Explain Your Non-Traditional Family to Your Child

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