Identity: Stop Forcing Your Child To Be Someone They're Not

Stop Forcing Your Child To Be Someone They’re Not

dont-force-kids-1
Courtesy of Nicole Williams

Now, I consider myself a good parent, I suppose – I love my children, I cook healthy meals, I clean, I educate them, I encourage them to help around the house, I make sure they know right from wrong, that they’re polite, kind, and are thoughtful of other people around them.

I’ve also taught them that they can be whoever they want to be, because I will love them no matter what … which is how any parent should feel, correct?

Incorrect. (Apparently)

I once (well, maybe a few times) allowed my son to dress up in pink and leave the house because he loved the color and it made him feel good. In turn, that made me feel good that he was comfortable and happy expressing himself around me, and more importantly, he was totally okay with being himself around other people because, you know, that’s what we constantly preach to others, right?

Wrong. (Apparently)

I got a truck load of shit for it and I couldn’t understand why.

“Why are you dressing him up as a girl?! You have a daughter to dress up!”

“Do you want him to grow up being confused?”

“People are going to make fun of him! You’re sick!”

Can we just get one thing straight, here?

The people and parents who behave this way are the ones damaging our children psychologically, not us.

I know this because I’ve been there.

My father wanted me to do ballet, I played football. I had to be quiet in his presence; I wasn’t allowed to express myself through fear of him being embarrassed or being punished for it.

I was bullied for most of my life because I had no voice. I didn’t know who I was then, and I still don’t now … because someone I looked up to told me to keep my mouth shut because of what others would think.

I developed a personality disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, and an eating disorder because I had to be someone I wasn’t.

I had no voice. I didn’t know who I was then, and I still don’t now … because someone I looked up to told me to keep my mouth shut because of what others would think.

I was a pressure cooker waiting to explode, and I’m now a product of everything my father hates, which has put a strain on our relationship and any other relationship I’ve ever had.

Courtesy of Nicole Williams

I’m “damaged,” so to speak.

So, back to where I was – I couldn’t give a flying fuck what my children want to leave the house wearing, to be honest, because if they’re happy then that’s all that matters.

My son has his nails painted, he wears makeup sometimes and pushes a stroller around if he feels like it, because, actually, one day he may be a father.

You wouldn’t laugh then, would you?

He was invited to an Elves and Fairies party recently and guess what he wanted to go as?

A fairy.

Would he look at another child and laugh for how they’re expressing themselves? Absolutely not – he’d join in because I’ve taught him that we all express ourselves in different ways and that there is no right or wrong in how we dress, what we wear, or what we’d like to be when we grow up because it’s how we treat people that really counts.

My son asked for two birthday parties this year – one where he could be himself and one where he had to pretend to be someone else because he knew other people wouldn’t “approve.”

I was gutted for him.

All he wanted was to have a good time – he shouldn’t be having to lie and make such grown up decisions at such a young age, just because one person had told him that “boys don’t behave that way.”

For as long as he’s with me, he can be whoever the fuck he wants and that’s not going to change. He knows that, my daughter knows that, and I’ll take on anybody who disagrees.

My son asked for two birthday parties this year – one where he could be himself and one where he had to pretend to be someone else because he knew other people wouldn’t “approve.”

So, to the parents who teach their children to laugh at other children, to encourage racism, hatred and snicker at others… FUCK YOU.

YOU are what’s wrong with the world.

Children don’t know hate, racism or mocking someone for being “different” unless we tell them and I refuse to enforce that upon my children just because the majority of the population are uncomfortable with being different.

I know how this affects children because I was one of them – I’m sure as fucking hell never going to put my child through that.

Why would anybody want to?

Encourage your children to be different, be their number one fan, cheer them on, even if it makes you feel slightly uncomfortable … because they need you to be there for them emotionally.

You are all they have … and if they don’t have you, who do they have?