Like most parents, I'm extremely proud of my child. I'm also very protective and slightly biased. That being said, I know my son isn't perfect or the best at everything. To tell him that, or myself for that matter, sets us up for unrealistic expectations and a lot of confusion about how the real world works. One thing I do tell my son though is that he can always be an original. He is free to look how he wants and express himself as a unique individual. He embraces that idea and I couldn't be more impressed. My son is eleven and has long, blondish, brown hair. His hair is past his shoulders in fact. He has a sweet, round face with adorable plump, apple checks. He loves wearing bright colors and especially pink. There isn't a time I can remember where he hasn't been called a girl. Been asked by adults when he's going to "cut that hair"? And worst of all, endured the nasty looks of passerby grownups who look at him and me in confusion; how could I let him look like that? Or is that even a boy? I often have to look the other way to avoid the glances and reassure my son if he wasn't quick enough to miss the slight. We work so hard to create safety and encouragement for our children and do the best to protect them from things to come. It's a shame that when a child is strong enough to live outside the box of the "norm" the thing they need the most protection from is other adults. Please be kind.
Mindi Fetterman is the Founder & Executive Director of The Inner Truth Project, giving a voice to survivors of sexual violence. www.innertruthproject.org