Showing Up for Your Child

2 Mar

Over the last few years, I’ve witnessed my son’s redefinition, i f you will. The physical changes are, of course, evident: The female curves and form are absent, replaced by leaner hips, broad back and defined arms. The softly rounded face has been replaced by an angular bearded jawline. His long curls shorn into a masculine style.

But it isn’t merely his physical presentation that has evolved. This individual’s being feels evolved to me as well. He is much more thoughtful and careful in his words and actions. His future is being retooled and planned. He is consciously considering, ever present and mindful. The courage I now understand this took- the risks he has faced- I am really in awe of my son’s transition!

I feel privileged that he generously has brought me along by his side! Hell, I managed not to screw up our relationship- like so many parents faced with a child’s transition, I didn’t know what to do. Where to begin. I wasn’t elegant nor eloquent in my initial reactions. I have been blessed that my child allowed me my discomfort. My pain. My huge learning curve.

So, in retrospect, I am thinking about a “To Do” list. When faced with such news, what SHOULD parents do in order to maintain these precious relationships and foster their child’s positive transition? After reflecting on my own journey and having watched others parents in similar circumstances, here’s a rudimentary consideration:

* EMBRACE YOUR CHILD! Whether literally or through sentiment, make CERTAIN your child knows they are loved unconditionally!

* REMIND YOURSELF: Someday it will not be this scary! There WILL be resolution!

* TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Find allies, parent groups. Reach out. Read. Inform yourself. Know you are not alone!

*FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE! Your child is ALIVE! THEY ARE HEALTHY! They are on a path to happiness! They DESERVE to be LOVED and SUPPORTED and you have the ability to give them that critical love and support!

*STAY CONNECTED! Even if your child doesn’t seek you out often or at all, offer your emotional support. Check in. ASK! LISTEN! HEAR!

* CONTINUE! You care enough to be reading this now- you are on your way-
YOU’VE GOT THIS!

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8 Responses to “Showing Up for Your Child”

  1. Scaredmum March 2, 2015 at 7:02 am #

    Thank you for this.
    It has brought tears, but a very broad smile to my face.
    I’m only 3 days in to this news, but I’m doing all you’ve listed.
    My baby is gonna be fine. As you say, health, happiness, acceptance and support is of most importance and that’s what I’m focussing on.
    I’m feeling very proud of him.

    • Lulu August 11, 2015 at 7:00 pm #

      It made me cry as well, but with a great sense of relief. Finally I found someone (or a whole group of someones!) who understand what it is like to be a ‘trans-mom’. I felt so alone, for so long. I still feel like an outsider to the ‘mom’ group, a group so supportive of each other and of the journeys we were all sharing. Now I find that they do not know what to say, or what advice to give me. The advice offered here is wonderful.It took me 6 months of grieving after our daughter told us that she was transitioning, but I am feeling much better now and am supporting my son every step of the way. I still feel a sadness for the daughter we lost, and scared for him. I love him unconditionally and am so proud of him and the courage it took for him to undertake this journey to become the person he was always supposed to be.
      I am SO GLAD to know that now I am not alone anymore

      • transmom August 12, 2015 at 6:32 am #

        Thanks for your support for Scaredmum, Lulu! Hearing about your experience helps all of us!!

  2. transmom March 22, 2015 at 9:01 pm #

    Good luck on your journey! Being able to say, “My baby is gonna be fine” is the proof that you ARE setting an incredibly important tone of positivity! GREAT FOR YOU BOTH!!

  3. Shari J. Sinclair-Forbis April 9, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

    Since my oldest child told me that she was transgender (I don’t even know if I am using the correct terminology), I have seen such a change. I love to finally see my child so happy and full of life. Although I support my child 1000%, the part of this that I am having trouble with is using male nouns/pronouns; especially with people that have known us for a long time and know that I have two daughters and a son. How do I address this change with friends…that I now have one daughter and two sons? I am so glad that I found your site. 🙂

    • transmom April 14, 2015 at 3:00 am #

      Hi Shari!
      Starting to use correct pronouns was REALLY hard for me, too! I think that this is the case for many moms of older kids- we have “grown up’ with our children and our language is simply connected with everything else about them. So don’t beat yourself up- you will make mistakes and people will appreciate that you understand how difficult it is for them as well! If it’s hard for mom, they feel that it kinda lets them off the hook!!

      So here’s the deal: This may be one of the MOST IMPORTANT ways in which you support and celebrate your child!! So keep working it!!

      One of the ways in which we were able to become more adept at using the correct nouns and pronouns was in reaching out to friends and family to share our news. For folks closest to us, this was over private meals or long-distance phone conversations. For the largest group, however, we sent out a “disclosure letter” that simply stated that we had news to share, that we loved our son (not referring to his previous gender or pronouns!) and noted that we welcomed all the support that we knew was out there.

      Having “put it out there”, it helped us practice talking about him correctly. Even 3 years later, folks that I only know as acquaintances will sometimes appear confused when I mention “my son”. They might say, “Wait- I thought you had two daughters.” To which I happily reply, “So did I! Actually ____ has transitioned. He is now male. ___ is fabulous and REALLY happy!! We are so proud of him!”

      Hope this helps, Shari!!! Let me know if you can use a copy of our disclosure letter and I can get that to you!

      • Lulu August 11, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

        I have been wondering about how to approach my son’s transition to the larger group of friends. We have told our closest friends and family, but don’t know how to talk to the larger group. Do I make an announcement on fb?I just don’t know how to deal with this.

      • transmom August 12, 2015 at 6:31 am #

        Hi Lulu! I think the very most important piece in this is having your son on the same page with the way in which you will disclose! Many transgender folks want to remain “stealth” so it is critical to have your son’s acceptance!!
        In our family, my husband and I chose to meet with immediate family and close friends to explain in person. Those that lived far or we did not see often, we shared the news by phone. But there were still many people we wanted to share with that we decided to send a disclosure letter or e-mail. I blogged about this quite awhile ago, so here it is again. I hope ours might help you format yours if you choose to go this route!!

        Hi _______________!

        Well, this may seem like a weird note to send- and we have been meaning to send it for awhile now. We are guessing that it will be the first of its kind for you (we sure the hell haven’t rec’d one of these ourselves!) ! We wanted to share that ____ has begun to transition from female to male and has already changed his name to _____. Through careful self-exploration, family talks, and therapy we have all come to understand and embrace the truth of this for him.
        As you have been a terrific friend for years – friends that we really admire- we wanted to let you know. _____ and I know this could be confusing for you as it was for us in the beginning. We would be very happy to discuss any questions you might have!

        Our love and support for _____ is complete! We appreciate your friendship as our family helps ______ through any challenge that may lie
        ahead.

        Love to you!
        _____ and _______

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