View this post on Instagram
“Will you help me pick out my boy name?”
She handed me a list of names. Some were already crossed off. I sat there for a moment that felt like an eternity and exclaimed, “Sure!” before she could notice my silence.
My 12-year-old daughter started her journey to find herself.
That day, she wished to be called Robbin, and most of her hair was buzzed off. These days, you’d find her in a big T-shirt, a hoodie, and sweatpants—with her nails painted and wildly artistic eyeshadow to match.
When she was 10, she asked me if it were okay for girls to like girls.
“Yeah, that happens.”
She said, “Okay,” and she ran off to play.
She expressed that she doesn’t want kids and ranted this speech to me at eight years old:
“I don’t want long hair. I hate it. It’s too hot. Why are girls supposed to have long hair? I can be a girl and look however I want to. It shouldn’t matter if boys find it attractive or not. Everyone expects girls to have long hair, and we just don’t have to.”
The curiosity has been most evident over the last few years as she’s reached closer to puberty. But, when I hear her speak of it, I recall a feeling I had when she was just a few months old.
She’s not going to be your stereotypical girl. I could just feel it in the energy that she emits, as if I were looking into a crystal ball. I now believe that I felt a mother’s intuition at that moment.
So, there I sat on my bed after taking a trip down memory lane. My daughter is questioning her sexuality and her gender. She’s trying to figure out who she is and what calls to her spirit, hoping to be loved and accepted.
Our kids need us to support their path to self-discovery and to love them, unconditionally, in all their shades of colors and interests. I believe that a life well-lived is filled with the immense power of love, starting with the love we give ourselves.
Twelve is a confusing and fragile age in our lives. Our kids want us to let them tell us who they are. They need us to give them the space to decide and feel safe, knowing that this is their right as a human—just as it was my child’s right to go to school wearing shorts over leggings and a sequined backward hat in the fourth grade, or to wear a sweater as a scarf in her school photo.
She’s now 13, and her preferences have changed quite a few times. But as I watch her grow into who she wishes to be and continue to challenge myself to go with the flow, I see a confidence that was taken from her not too long ago. And I’m glad I’ve been able to give her the space to figure it out without rebellion running the show.
It hasn’t been easy, and she’s taken my curiosity the wrong way, but I’ve found that when I let her express her authenticity, support her curiosity, and provide a safe environment to explore, she’s been able to keep her confidence and take care of her mental health—which is most important to me.
She taught me a long time ago that she’s going to be who she is and not who I dreamed she would be.
Kristina Kuzmič wrote something that spoke to this area of parenting so perfectly:
“I may never get to know them if I tell them who they are before they’ve had a chance to figure it out for themselves.”