Last week I had an instant, a nano second, that I became so aware of the power of influence we as parents have on our children.
I knew that the words I was about to speak were going to have an effect on my child’s way of thinking for the rest of her life.
I felt my heart start to beat faster. I felt myself gasp. My mind raced so quickly.
It started off as a normal before bed routine. One child had fallen asleep and I had some one on one time with the other. We decided to watch a movie together. As the ending of the movie approached I walked out of the room to bring the remnants of our snacks and drinks to the kitchen. I took that opportunity to also use the restroom. When I walked back into the room I stopped and had a mini panic attack as I saw that the movie had ended and my child was staring at the Bravo Channel playing ‘I am Cait’
By now we all know the story of Bruce Jenner and his transition to Caitlyn Jenner but my 7yr old sure didn’t. There it was plastered on the big screen tv and my child was intensely watching and listening and to my shock interested in it. My eyes and ears quickly dart to the television to see and hear what she was.
Breathe I thought to myself at this moment.
It’s not provocative, it’s not a sex scene, no-one is naked or cursing. Ok now what? I glance back to her and her eyes haven’t moved from the television. My mind is racing as fast as my heart and I’m confused as to what I need to do at this very moment. I sat down next to her where I was before I had left the room and I casually reached for the remote.
That’s when she looked over at me so innocently and asked “Mom is that a man or a woman?”
How do I explain this to my young child? I worry about a lot of things as a parent and this was one that had never crossed my mind.
I took a deep breath and I decided I was going to let my child help guide me through this. I was going to use my Conscious Parenting right now. I responded by asking her what she thought the answer was. She replied “She’s very pretty but I heard her say she was a man before”
I told her “yes the person you see as a pretty lady was born a boy and grew up to be a man.” I then began telling her about Bruce Jenner and his Olympic and life accomplishments. I noted to myself that she was showing pride in what he had accomplished. I really started to ease up inside as I now had to tell her why this Olympic Champion was wearing makeup, a dress, heels and looks like “a pretty lady”
I told her as a child he didn’t feel like a boy he felt like a girl on the inside. He was a good person and tried very hard to be a good man. He won in the Olympics, he got married, and he even had children but inside he felt like a girl no matter what he looked like on the outside I said he was sad about that on the inside. So now that his children are all grown up he decided to tell them and the entire world that he didn’t feel like a man he felt like a woman.
I then stopped and asked her how she felt about that. I had simply given her the facts and hadn’t offered a personal opinion. She was sympathetic towards his feelings and she said “maybe that’s like some people have a disability mom”
Once again I let her guide this conversation because I was learning from her that this wasn’t in any way about my feelings about the situation it needed to be about hers. I could offer her any opinion right now in this very moment and most likely it was going to influence her into feeling some type of way for the rest of her life. Right this minute my child was teaching me a very important parenting lesson. Hatred, Racism, Acceptance are all bred.
I was no longer having a mini panic attack inside I was feeling so proud of my parenting style and that I had given my child the power of choice and that she had all on her own chosen acceptance.
They say to watch your words carefully around your children. In my personal opinion I think we all need to take more time and listen to the words and choices our children make.
At the end of our personal story my daughter chose to be proud of the accomplishments of Bruce Jenner and to be accepting of the feelings and choices of Caitlyn Jenner.
I’m going to follow my child’s lead a little more often~