Parenting

National Sons And National Daughters Day Is A Viral Trend––But It’s Leaving A Lot Of Kids Out

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As parents, we can all in some way or another empathize with a kid who doesn’t get invited to a birthday party when their classmates have. We can look at the kid on the playground, playing alone, and wonder who’s going to go over and start playing with them. As parents, we can recognize — and sympathize — when other kids are left out. For kids who are GNC (gender non-conforming), trans, or non-binary and their parents, this is what these National Sons and National Daughters Days can feel like: being left out of the party.

These days are far from inclusive of kids and their parents who do not fit nicely into the gender box that our society has created for them. Dana, from Austin, Texas, is a mom to 14-year-old twin — one who identifies as a cis-gender male and the other as non-binary. “I don’t really understand why gender-specific child celebration days exist,” she says. “We should love and support our children frequently. If you’re not doing that, a National Holiday probably won’t make you start or won’t change that for you. If you have lost a child it may unexpectedly trigger that loss as friends celebrate. If you have a child that is non-gender conforming it can create additional stress for them.” No one needs more stress. The layers that need to be peeled back for our society to do better for all families are many.

Born out of National Take Your Daughters to Work Day, a day meant to support the professional endeavors of young women, these national “holidays” of sorts are seemingly a response to our bizarre culture of recognizing kids through gendered terminology. These days purport to encourage us parents and other adults to spend time with the little humans we have in our lives and do something special.

Cat, from San Diego, California is a mom of a 13-year-old trans son and shares with Scary Mommy, “I had never given such constant and deep thought about the exclusionary nature of our society’s insistence on the gender binary until our child came out as trans this past year. I view clothing, toy, and cosmetic aisles differently. I view what I had assumed to be safe spaces and safe people differently. The first National Sons and Daughters Day after my child’s coming out was another reminder of where my child and our family do not fit in. I grieved for the daughter I thought I had, but what was most painful was the sense of exclusion of my trans son.”

One parent of a gender-fluid 16-year-old from San Francisco, Kriz, puts it like this: “Sons/Daughters Day was not inclusive for us and felt like a data grab holiday.”

On August 11th, some celebrate National Sons and Daughters Day, a day earmarked to organize and participate in special activities with your kiddo and spend time with your family. We now have National Daughters Day which is celebrated on September 25th, a day to once again honor and celebrate the daughters in our lives. Then there is National Sons Day celebrated on September 28th. On either one of those days, you couldn’t spend ten seconds on Facebook or Instagram without seeing a post commemorating the occasion.

The social media event gained renewed steam in 2018 when mom Jill Nico helped it gain momentum and go viral. Her goal was to share how sons can grow into men who take care of their parents just as their parents took care of them.

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The “day” has caught on globally and all around the world, in various ways; gender-specific holidays, are celebrated from sisters and brothers celebrating their relationships in India to parents and grandparents day, celebrated in South Korea and Mexico, respectively.

Jen, from Los Angeles, California and mom to a five-year-old non-binary child, says, “I see how brave my kid is about sharing their identity, and how important it is to them that I call them by how they feel inside. It might seem like a small thing, but when my husband and I supported their decisions—from hair cuts to clothes—I could see their eyes light up. I could see my kid’s joy come across in simply listening to what they wanted. All kids deserve to be seen and celebrated for who they are.” Her words are a reminder that all kids need to be seen, celebrated, and supported for who they are.

On days like these huge viral events, where do the kids (and parents) of GNC or non-binary or transgender kids fit in? According to data compiled by the nonprofit Kids Center in 2020, 51% of kids were considered male and 49% were considered female, leaving out thousands of kids who do not identify as either, kids who use pronouns like they/them or ze/zer, kids who are GNC or non-binary or trans. Approximately 2 million Americans identify as non-binary or gender non-conforming — that’s 2 million human beings who aren’t acknowledged during these special “holidays,” from kids to parents to grandparents.

What is it about these national holidays that get people going? I’d venture to say it has something to do with the fact that we, as a society, don’t take time to smell the roses as they say. We don’t pump the brakes on life to look around and be in the moment with ourselves, our families, but especially our kids. If we do support national holidays, great! Let’s make sure they are welcoming of all people, all kids, and all gender identities. It’s okay to admit that we are all still learning about kids who identify differently than what we are used to, but we can’t leave them behind due to our own ignorance.

How should we go about being a more welcoming and open society? We could try to emulate a “Schitt’s Creek” mentality, a place where all identities and all versions of human beings are accepted without question. Wouldn’t that be nice? We can start by making these national holidays more inclusive.

Let’s reimagine how we think about Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Grandparents Day, and honor those kids who identify as neither sons nor daughters. Let’s move forward, nationally, in a way that accepts kids and parents where they are and for who they are.

In the writing and research I did for this very article, I have a new perspective on these holidays. I am grateful for the parents and kiddos who shared their stories and feelings about these gendered holidays. I will look at every holiday differently, especially the gendered ones. I can work to help make our world a better place for all of our kids, non-binary, non-gendering conforming, trans, and all humans — because we all deserve to be included and accepted.

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