Navigating Identity Challenges in the Family

Navigating identity challenges in the family can be a complex and sensitive journey. As parents, it can be difficult to address the challenges while maintaining a firm understanding of truth and morality. 

Thankfully, the Church provides a framework within the Catechism that will help guide parents and families in navigating identity challenges. 

“[Those with disordered tendencies] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.” – CCC #2358

Here are some considerations in navigating identity challenges in the family while maintaining the teachings of the Catholic Church.


It is critical that family members understand the dignity of the individual who is struggling with their identity. They too were made in the image and likeness of God and deserve the same respect. Respect does not mean affirm, but it does highlight the way we are to treat those who are struggling. By listening to their thoughts, addressing their concerns, and being open to providing advice, families can establish clear expectations and boundaries. 


Oftentimes, Christians are misunderstood for being judgmental or divisive when it comes to interacting with those struggling with their identity. When faced with something outside of our comfort zone, we may tend to get defensive or shut down. By considering the background and emotional challenges the individual may face, we can see how certain circumstances or events in their life may have caused them to feel confused in their identity. Seeking compassion may give better room for the individual to hear another perspective. 


Approaching a family member struggling with identity requires sensitivity. Most likely already on the defense, someone who is confused or challenged in understanding themselves will not respond well to hostility or aggressiveness. Remaining firm in your knowledge of truth while speaking gently and charitably, you can open the door to more dialogue and become a reliable source to trust.

Navigating identity challenges in the family requires patience, love, and a firm grounding in our Catholic faith. By fostering respect, compassion and sensitivity, we can help our loved ones find their true identity in Christ while feeling deeply loved and valued within their family.