I have four children. If I have learned anything from raising all of them, it’s that there is very little I can control in their lives. Of course, I try to instill my values–a sense of civic duty, service to others, being kind. But the reality is that they are their own human beings. They gravitate towards certain hobbies and music, they become friends with people they get along with, and fall in love with who they fall in love with. I would be deluding myself if I thought I could control any part of that.
But when my son came out as transgender, I wanted control. I wanted to prevent the pain of others judging him. I wanted to protect him from bullying. I wanted to avoid complications of a lifetime of medications and surgeries. It wasn’t because I didn’t love him. I absolutely love my child. But when faced with uncertainty, like many trauma survivors, I cling to control.
Is that something you can identify with? Wanting to control your environment and outcomes? Striving for the image of perfection?
Getting Curious with our Trans Kids
What my child needed from me was curiosity. He needed me to listen to his thoughts and feelings. I needed to ask open-ended questions and dance with all the options and possibilities. Instead of jumping down the rabbit hole of all the medical and psychological interventions and outcomes, all I needed to do was ask my child these questions:
- “What pronouns would you like me to use?”
- “What are the first few steps we need to take as a family?”
- “Who if anyone would you like us to tell?”
- Most importantly, “What can I do to support you in feeling completely yourself?”
The world is a much different and much more colorful place when we approach it from the space of curiosity instead of control. Because, in the end, what we can control is actually much less than we imagine, but we can control our response. I suggest you respond with curiosity.
Need help navigating the changes in your family since your child came out as transgender? Reach out for a free 30-minute discovery call to see if we would be a good fit for mentoring.