Letters to a new mom: Letting your child's light shine

Dear New Mom,

Congratulations on your new little bundle of joy!  Being a new mom is one of the most wonderful, yet terrifying, things we can ever be blessed with.  I know as a new mom you are being bombarded with advice from all angles but bare with me.

When I was a new parent, looking down at my first born sleeping in the middle of the night (yes some do sleep at night), I often wondered if I was on track and doing a half way decent job.  We didn’t have many friends to lean on at the time that had children and I pretty much hated the idea of raising my child according to a book.

For the most part, I had to lean on my memories of how I grew up.  I had really good parents that did everything they could to raise us right.  I used what I had learned from from them in order to be as good of a parent as I could be.

When I was a kid, I loved to play with stuffed animals, Tonka trucks and my Lionel train set.  I liked to get dirty, play house and be at my mom’s side in the kitchen.  Though no one in the family recognized it, I walked the line between the defined gender roles of the early 70s.  For the most part, my parents just let me be . . . me.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I really had spoken up all those years ago.  How would my parents have reacted?  Would they have been as accepting then as they were 4 years ago when I told them I was transitioning?

As a parent of two amazing kids myself, I have learned one thing over the 18 years of watching my daughter grow and like wise for 12 years as my son has grown into the young man he is today – let them be who they are inside.

From before the moment our children are born, we as a society begin placing labels on them.  Is the child “healthy” or is it “sub-optimal”?  “It’s a boy” or “It’s a girl”.  It is sometimes unavoidable but sometimes we fall into the pattern of assigning the labels without much thought. When we see a ‘healthy’ child we think of the grand possibilities for the child’s future.  When we hear that a child is special needs, many immediately think of the shortcomings the child will face.

When we see a boy – we put the child in blue and give the child his first baseball mitt.  When we see a girl – we put her in pink and give her a doll.

I truly believe this needs to change!

As our children grow, they must be allowed to express who they are, without us placing outdated parameters on them.

If a girl wants to climb trees, skin her knees and boycott pastels – let her.

If a boy wants to play with dolls, stuffed animals and play dress up – let him.

If your girl feels more comfortable in pants, button down shirts and neckties than dresses and skirts – don’t force her into something that feels foreign to her.

If your boy freezes outside the boy’s restroom and says he can’t go in there because he is girl – then listen to your child.

The biggest mistake we can make as parents is holding on to preconceived notions of what we thought our child should be, especially when our child falls outside of those ideas.  We should never define our children by their outward packaging.  We should be encouraging the light that shines within them.  We should be doing everything in our power to bring that light to the world and protect that light from being extinguished.

Yours Truely

P.S.  If you would need more advice or a shoulder to cry on, you can find me on Facebook at Trans Girl at the Cross and at Twitter @Megganrenee.  Also you will want to read my friend's Letters to a new mom - losing the labels. Or what would like to read more posts from some awesome ChicagNow bloggers with their advice for new moms - you can read them all here.

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    Meggan Sommerville

    Meggan Sommerville is a Christian transgender woman with a heart for educating others about the transgender community and her faith in her Savior, Jesus Christ. Her career life has taken her on a variety of adventures, from being a veterinary technician in the Western burbs of Chicago to being an EMT/Paramedic, EMS instructor, and a paid on call firefighter for Bolingbrook , Illinois. Since 1998, she has been the frame shop manager for a national craft retailer. You can contact Meggan via email at Transgirlatcross@aol.com or find her on Facebook at Trans Girl at the Cross

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