Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Parenting from the Inside - Out
My approach to loving Cameron has created some unwelcome responses, hateful comments, and personal attacks on my character. My heart aches for other families who face this challenge with their children. the difficulty that it introduces, especially in regards to relationships - can be devastating at best. Despite it all, I maintain my position...
We've all seen children who are isolated or rejected by their peer group... it's part of growing up - after all, kids will be kids. Looking back, I was that child. There were countless days when I came home crying because of experiences that I had at school. My mother would get upset, jump to my defense, then occasionally call the parents of my tormentors in an effort to initiate an intervention. After the emotions had settled, she'd sit down with me. Then, in an effort to make things better, she'd try to help me figure out what I had done to cause the rejection. Over the years, we spent hours together dissecting situations, discussing what I needed to change about myself, and searching for the things that I could do differently... things that would make me more appealing to my peer group. I remember the frustration that I felt and the sadness that consumed me as I desperately searched for acceptance. My self-esteem was devastated as I struggled to find peace. If you can't love or accept yourself... if you start from the outside (with the opinions of others), peace will always be elusive.
My mother did her best to love me and protect me. She thought that by helping me to change... by molding me into a more "acceptable" child... she could prevent the heartache caused by rejection. She didn't realize that by taking an "outside-in" approach to parenting, she was reinforcing that rejection. Unfortunately, this is the approach that many parents take when it comes to their transgender children. I am thankful for my relationship with my mother... I realize that she loved me very much, and I love her... but I am most thankful for that time in my life because of what it taught me. Looking back now, I can see that there are no coincidences in life. This experience has paved the way to greater understanding for Cameron... I have learned the importance of parenting from the "inside-out".
Everything in me, from my personal childhood experience to my testimony of the purpose of life, has humbled me and guided my path. I have taught Cameron to love herself, accept herself, and be true to herself. I have taught her to embrace Christ with all of her faith. I have taught her that it matters little what others think..."Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."
What could be more holy than our personal relationship with the Lord? I have taught Cameron that her relationship with our Heavenly Father is sacred... to never allow anyone to dictate what it has been, what it is, or what it will be... "give not that which is holy unto the dogs". I have taught her to seek her own answers in faith and prayer, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh is shall be opened." If she will do these things, the Lord will give her strength. Her strength will come from within, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, which is in heaven."
There is only one judge and he does not consult the wisdom of men. Christ said, "Blessed, are ye when men shall revil you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Take no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
By accepting my child and embracing her beautiful spirit, I put my faith in the Lord and pray that he will give her the courage to accept herself and the courage to face a world polluted with judgement. I pray that she will discover her divine gifts, strengths, abilities, and spiritual purpose. I pray that she will be humble and kind to those in need. I pray that she will be strengthened by God's grace through adversity. These are the desires of my heart... not to have a son or daughter... but to have a child - boy or girl - who faithfully trusts in the Lord... not the opinions of men. As the Lord's agent in her mortal experience, this is my "custodial responsibility"; this is what it means to parent from the inside... out.