Turning Points: Parenting a Transgender Child Part 2

By Sylvie Griffiths:

When you are raising a child you always have some turning points while parenting. Decent grades turn below average and a new crowd of sketchy friends is joined. Puberty, which is enough to get its own sentence! There are so many times, basically, that our kids surprise us and do something that is different from previous patterns. I see these moments or times as turning points because I feel that I must adjust my parenting style and revisit what exactly is going on with them.

My oldest son has recently received his best report card yet; he might have tired of the extra chores and strict academic focus we ingrained into him after he failed a semester of English. He wasn’t happy with these changes but he was proud to show off his grades. In this case, it was clear what my husband and I had to do; we had to watch our son more closely while limiting electronics and asking more in-depth questions about what class was like. Our turning point (and breaking point) was hearing from his teacher that he had failed to turn in any homework for the semester. However, with hard work, we all came together and the situation improved. And wow those moments feel like a win as parents!

Unfortunately, some turning points do not come with clear-cut instructions on how to handle certain things. We ask our other friends with kids. We read blogs and real-life tales of parenting online. We toss and turn at night hoping we are doing the right thing. And, of course, we blame ourselves. Did my divorce set my oldest daughter up for anxiety, will my kids never speak to me again I reprimand them for wrong doing, or simply am I doing the best I can for my child are just some of the questions that plague us.

The biggest turning point my entire family has experienced (so far) was my youngest daughter coming out as transgender. I went from having 3 girls and 1 boy to two of each. I became a cub scout Mom. My husband and I have found a specialized therapist for him to see. We have spent time talking the change through family, friends, pediatric dentists, school teachers, guidance counselors, and therapists. I do not list these as a tiresome list of obligations; we are happy to put the work in but it is challenging. This turning point doesn’t come with instructions.

However, anxiety, awkwardness, and fear concerning my little dude’s well -being now more than ever plague us all. He is struggling with school and we cannot tell if it is related to this change. He is clingy and very anxious and is afraid of people “finding out that he is not a full real boy.” As a parent, your heart breaks every time your child experiences anything negative; illness, fear, bullying; the list can go on forever. So, added to the normal unease I own as an anxious parent, comes this additional feeling that you must protect your child like a ferocious mama bear. We struggle to put aside these feelings in front of Jake naturally, but we absolutely have them.

If you ask for a traditional definition of a turning point, it speaks of a decisive change that leads to beneficial results. I treasure this description because it reminds me that the journey will be leading our family to a positive outcome. Perhaps my cub scout will grow up to be an advocate for his new community. Maybe he will become a vet and help all the animals he loves so much. Just like my dreams for all my children, Jake’s possibilities are endless. So, as a parent I embrace turning points for all that they are, knowing the end will bring my children success.

About Sylvie Griffiths:

Sylvie is a happily married mother of four who enjoys writing, people and chocolate.

She is an Evaluation Associate and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Behavioral Healthcare-Adult Community Concentration, from the University of South Florida. She holds more than ten years of experience in performance assessment and behavioral health services and is currently enrolled as an MBA student at Springfield College, School of Professional and Continuing Studies.