After my youngest child also came out as transgender, I was hit with a wave of familiar emotions. While I had the experience of raising my trans son enough to write the book and regularly speak on the topic, I had a ton of trepidation about getting back on that rollercoaster ride again with my trans daughter. I tend to present the more positive experiences with Mitchell because the reality is that he is in a happy place, affirmed as the young man he is. But there were some dark days too. Bullying, hopelessness and suicidality, to name a few.

Every transgender child goes through their own journey, and not everyone feels affirmed to the same degree with the same efforts by a parent at the same rate. I knew this intellectually, and now I am living it.

As rough as things had been on that roller coaster with Mitchell, the ride seems rougher now with Rose. Is it because I’ve had several years of easy time with Mitch? Is it because being a trans woman is that much harder than being a trans man? And how much does personality play into how each trans person deals with life?

Long story short: I am utterly drained from this rollercoaster ride! Can you relate?

Can you also relate to being tired of all the well-meaning advice from friends suggesting you “take care of yourself” or “focus on yourself” or that ever-elusive to be defined practice of “self-care”?!

Because it is always my goal to help parents a few steps behind me on this path, here are some of the practices I have put into place to help relieve the stress of caring for a transgender child.

Set aside dedicated time for yourself

Yes, I know we have a lot on our plates and must also take care of our needs. No one can be in survival mode continuously. Schedule some Me Time, whether it is a few minutes each day or a longer block of time each week. Think about the activities that nourish you and make you feel good, and make a list of these activities. These could include exercising, spending time in nature, practicing a hobby like painting or knitting, or scheduling a regular massage or salon appointment.

Incorporate self-care into your daily routine

Try taking a few minutes to stretch or meditate in the morning, or take the extra 3 minutes to put on moisturizer—trust me, the world will survive the time you take to apply moisturizer and you will feel nurtured. Maybe take a relaxing bath before bed, practice deep breathing or read an escapism fiction novel. The point is that you can help calm your system with short self-care practices.

Seek out supportive relationships

Surround yourself with people who support and uplift you and make time to connect with these individuals regularly. Accept help when someone asks to help you. If you don’t know how they can help, ask them to grab your grocery order, have them come over and help you fold laundry or just sit next to you while you zone out on a streaming service. Connection and community are paramount to us social beings.

Practice gratitude

Take time each day to reflect on the things you are grateful for and make an effort to focus on the positive aspects of your life. Gratitude journalling can be something you add to your daily self-care routine, and it can be as simple as writing yourself a text. I know it can sound like a monumental task to find something to be grateful for when you’ve spent 6 hours at the emergency room with a suicidal teen but focusing on the little things that go right will relieve some of the stress.

Set boundaries

Setting boundaries around your availability for others and prioritizing your needs and well-being is essential. This may involve saying no to unreasonable requests or setting limits on your time and energy. Try scheduling respite and accepting help when it’s offered. Remember that No is a complete answer. You do not have to justify your no by sharing information about your transgender child.

Get a Mentor Coach

If you are struggling to practice self-love or are feeling overwhelmed with grief or fear about your child’s future, it may be helpful to seek support from a mentor coach such as myself, who has been on this path for more than six years. I am also a certified professional life coach with many skills to help you set goals for your family and find a deeper connection through a challenging time.

This is a very rewarding journey this raising transgender youth. The sense of pride and joy and connection and authenticity is beyond measure. But we must make it through the stressful parts first, which can only be accomplished if we put on our oxygen masks as parents.

Download the ebook Defining Transgender here to stay in touch through my newsletter and don’t forget to grab your copy of Beyond Pronouns: The Essential Guide for Parents of Trans Children.