Parenting a they/them kiddo

Janet from The Good Place: Enby Icon

I haven’t written much here about parenting a non-binary child. Part of that is the urge to roll out a long, all-encompassing post.

So instead of letting that stay a mental block, let me get the ball rolling with one recent anecdote.

Sprout went over to their gym teacher (with some backup from their BFF) and said that it makes them uncomfortable when the class gets divided into boys and girls to make teams or for different activities. Sprout wanted to make sure the teacher knew that they weren’t a boy or a girl, and dividing the class this way made it so they couldn’t fit in.

The gym teacher listened, and a compromise was made that Sprout would get to choose which group they did activities with each class.

I’m always proud when Sprout acts as their own advocate, but standing up to a teacher? That’s a bold move.

And right now, while they’re still young, the compromises and accommodations will be this easy.

A friend brought up the prospect of what’s going to happen once we get to middle school and locker rooms become part of the conversation. I said I wasn’t mentally prepared to think that far ahead.

But I know a few things about Sprout already. When they first shared their nonbinary identity with their mom and me, they said “I don’t feel like a girl or a boy. I don’t know if this is how I’ll always feel, but it’s how I feel right now.” We took them at their word, and continue to do so.

But I do know that they saw us as trusted people who they could come to with big, important things. And in seeing how they’ve approached sharing this identity and taking ownership of it, I know they have a lot of inner strength.

The potential problems they may have down the road could be completely different than anything we’re thinking about now, so why spend the energy on those fears?

Right now we have a child we love, who feels safe and respected with us, and who feels confident and proud of who they are. That’s where the focus needs to stay at the moment. That’s enough.

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