Parenting Teens Is A Challenge – Are You Worthy?

A personal anecdote. . .

My daughter, at the ripe old age of 12, has a transgender friend. When I asked her who the young man she was walking with was, she replied,

“That’s Susie . . . well, Michael . . . it’s hard to explain”
(I made up the names, folks, so don’t try to figure out who?Susie Michael is, OK?)

I just?smiled and asked if Susie was more comfortable as Michael. My kid, breathing a sigh of relief, said yes, and that she he wanted to be called Michael. Proper pronouns are something that will take some time to get used to.

I was so proud of my child, in that moment, to be so fully accepting of her friend’s desire to be who he really felt he was.

Image courtesy of Blue Boat Blogs
Image courtesy of Blue Boat Blogs

The next day, Michael came closer to the van where I waited after school, and was surprised when I smiled and said,

“Hi Michael. How was your day today?”

We exchanged pleasantries. This was a child I had known for many years, as a girl, so the exchange could have been awkward, but it wasn’t. That is called acceptance.

My daughter later told me that Michael was elated that I had addressed him using the name he had chosen, and that it meant the world to him that an adult didn’t think he was being foolish by wanting to be seen and recognized as a boy.

It isn’t foolish, Michael. It is merely recognizing who you really are and allowing that ‘you’ to surface and experience the world. This world needs much less intolerance in these matters.

When you, as a parent,?turn your back on a child that expresses being gay or transgender, or really, anything other than what YOU want that child to be, YOU are the?one that needs fixing?- not that child or young adult. I wrote about homeless LGBT youth the other day, who had been kicked out of homes where they grew up with intolerant parents.

My biggest fear for Michael is that his parents might not be so accepting. We shall cross that bridge when we come to it.

As I progress along this path of parenthood, I hope to address each challenge with understanding, patience, a little style, and maybe some?grace.?I hope?to handle all the trials and tribulations of?my child’s?coming teen years with at least some semblance of sanity remaining afterward.

One thing I can do is to be accepting of my child’s choices – no matter what they are – and to just keep loving that kid with all my heart.

I may not like all of her choices, but I can allow her to make them (after advising her of any potential for future problems, of course). I am really big on personal responsibility. If my kid makes a choice that turns out not so great, she will own it and learn from it. My job is to teach her to make good choices, and that I?will continue?trying to do.

If you have a child that is struggling with any kind of teenage issue – identity, bullying, self-esteem, hair color, grades, anything – try to be understanding and encouraging rather than judgmental. Let them make bad choices (after explaining patiently why it will be a bad choice, of course). Be there to scoop them up and reassure them when a bad choice become evident to them.?Being a teen is rough enough.

But really, in the end, all they need is love and acceptance.

Oh – and pizza – they must also have pizza.