“My son wears dresses get over it,” writes a self-proclaimed “guys guy” dad in an article in The Atlantic this week. He’s not just teaching parents who have children with varying sexual and gender identities how to be conscious parents – he’s teaching all of us how to.
I’m a father. I signed on for the job with no strings attached, no caveats, no conditions. I can name every Disney Princess and her movie of origin. I’ve painted my son’s nails and rushed to remove it when he was afraid that he would get teased for wearing it. I didn’t want to remove it, I wanted to follow him around and stare down anybody who even thought about teasing him. I only removed it because he started to have a panic attack. It was his decision and if he wants to edit himself to feel safer, I’ll do it. Every time. No questions asked.
This is amazing. Not just because it shows and open-mindedness that many parents can’t grasp, but because it teaches a very valuable lesson; our job as parents is to support and guide our kids as they navigate through life. It’s not our job to figure out what their interests should be, or push them in any one direction. How many of us could fully support our children if they were exhibiting signs that there were fundamental things about them that were different than us?
I fully realize “interests” and something like sexual or gender orientation are two totally different things. But this essay made me think about ways I may project what I want for my children on to them in unfair ways. I’ve always made the joke, “the only way my child could disappoint me was if he became a conservative Republican.” But, I guess that’s not really funny. What if my son decides he wants to be a card-carrying member of the NRA and vote Republican for the rest of his life? Would I be able to support it? Would I let him be the person he wants to be? What if my daughter decides she won’t identify as a feminist? Would I ever be able to not judge my kids and let them be the people they want to be?
… I’m right here fathering my son. I want to love him, not change him. My son skipping and twirling in a dress isn’t a sign that a strong male figure is missing from his life, to me it’s a sign that a strong male figure is fully vested in his life and committed to protecting him and allowing him to grow into the person who he was created to be.
The “person he was created to be.” That is beautiful. After reading this I can say it is my sincerest wish that I can support my children the same way – no matter who they end up being.
(photo: Flickr/CreativeCommons/ LisaClarke)