I’m stalling today. I desperately want to do a dozen things, all of which are distractions from the novel I’m supposed to be working on. I’ve also charged myself with writing a blog post a week that isn’t WIPpet Wednesday or a ROW80 check-in, so at least this particular distraction is legitimate.
I played around with several topics, including throwing in my two cents on the whole Mark Driscoll fiasco that exploded this week. (I’m rejecting that one on the grounds that I have no real dog in that fight and there are much, much better people to listen to on that subject. Here and here are two of my favorites, if you care to find out what I’m talking about.)
I mentioned needing to write a post to a friend in an exchange that went like this:
Me: I need to do a blog post some time. But I need a topic first. LOL!
She: Why open conversations with children are necessary to the betterment of their lives and yours.
I did chuckle a little at that because yesterday, I had one such conversation with my kids over lunch. I had just come back from J’s appointment with his ADHD doctor. At the appointment, I mentioned that the bullying J experienced at school was largely of the “you’re not boy enough” variety. What was sad to me was how unsurprised his doctor was, although I was pleased when he said, “That should bother us on so many levels.”
When we returned home, J brought it up again, and he, S, and I started talking about what makes a person a girl or a boy. It’s interesting to me that people feel we can’t talk to kids about gender identity because they’re “too young to understand.” Let me assure you that my kids have a very good idea about gender identity, and talking with them was not difficult.
We talked about a lot of things, including how girls can often get away with being “tomboys” and wearing their brothers’ clothes but it doesn’t go the other way. I suggested that needs to change, and both kids said, “Yeah! That’s not fair!” We continued talking about the full range of identity and expression, and at no point did either of them act confused or upset.
Throughout the conversation, they were at the helm. I did very little other than answer questions and let them say what they wanted. Interestingly, both of them said they truly feel—inside and out—like a boy and like a girl, respectively. But apparently they already know kids who don’t feel the same.
This is why we need to talk about it. I am one hundred percent happy to talk with my own kids, to reassure them that whoever they are, they are loved by their dad and me. They are free to express themselves any way they choose. But that’s not the only reason to open that conversation. Surely over time, they will have friends who defy what society says is acceptable—not just gender or sexuality but many other things that are part of a person as a whole.
When that happens, I want my kids to be the sort of people who are loving, open, and understanding with all people. I want them to be able to tell their friends that if they don’t feel accepted in other places, they are always welcome in our house. Here, they will find people who don’t merely “tolerate” or even “accept” them but who actively take an interest and care about them.
Having these conversations with our children is absolutely not just about us or our kids. It’s about making a better world for everyone.