There are unique aspects of being the parent or supporter of an LGBTQIA+ child. Whether we like it or not, there are situations, conversations and challenges unique to us. And there is additional learning that must be done in order for us to approach these areas with knowledge and skill. Which also means there will be times we don’t have that knowledge or skill and make mistakes. Some of those mistakes even fall into the category of epic fails.
I can say that I have made no less than a dozen mistakes that I would place into that category but one stands out far beyond the others. It was the day my son asked for a binder.
A binder is an undergarment worn to flatten breast tissue. I knew what it was and the purpose but beyond that all I “knew” was that binding was unsafe, constricts breathing, damages the ribs and causes harm. So when my child asked for one, my instinct as a parent was a “HELL NO!” Safety first and clearly this was not a safe request. Or was it?
My son insisted he had done the research and knew the practice of binding could be done safely and could even provide the research for my reading. But I wouldn’t have any of it. It was a flat out “no” from me. I saw the tears in his eyes and explained my stance over and over again, citing safety. I heard what he was saying but I did not listen.
It took me two months to even open those research articles. I avoided reading any posts about binding in my support groups and avoided the topic with him. Until one day I finally asked myself one of the most important questions I ask my clients: why?
Why aren’t you even reading what he sent you? Why aren’t you asking more questions? And what is hiding underneath this avoidance?
It will come as no surprise that my reason was it was easier for me to avoid learning more than it was to experience my feelings. I was avoiding my fear, sadness and anxiety. Feeling confused allowed me to avoid all other feelings. But what about my child? What was my avoidance causing for him?
My child had done the work for me to research binding and provide the most credible articles. He had done the work to research product safety and find what he wanted. Not only did I reject his efforts, I invalidated his attempts to share his true self and closed off all conversation around the topic.
Looking back, we both recall this time with pain and sorrow, not the parenting I want to remember or be remembered by.
But now I have a choice. I can continue to punish myself for what I didn’t know and how I behaved during that time or I could acknowledge that I did eventually get it right. I did read the research (let me give you the summary- binding can be done completely safely and the products out there are amazing) and I did purchase a binder that changed my son’s level of confidence in the world.
I can choose to beat myself up about those months or I can love myself for being on the journey and eventually taking the step towards growth. I choose the latter.
You, too, are going to make some epic fails along your journey of support and growth. But how you choose to see the makes all the difference. You can choose to wallow in the failure or celebrate the success. This I know. When we want to create more success whether that be in communication, acceptance, or growth, focusing on our progress is the only way to create more of it. When we spend our precious brainpower focused on our failures, we only create more misery and failure. We miss seeing our strengths, the strengths of our children and the progress we are making.
We are learning. We are growing. We are making mistakes. And we are creating wins. Let’s fight for the person we want to become and celebrate ourselves for the growth we have made and the path of growth we are going to continue.
If you would like more information about binding, please email me at email@example.com or hit the contact me button on www.sarahkennedycoaching.com. And if you’d like to work through your epic fails and accelerate your knowledge and growth curve, click here to schedule a time to see how I can help: https://calendly.com/sarahkennedycoaching/consultation.