I came across a shocking story today.
Ashley L. Peterson tells the story of a mother who took her 17-year-old to court to stop the minor from having a gender-affirming double mastectomy:
Gender Identity and Parental Obstruction
When parents go to court to exert control
It reminds me of the time I discussed with my mother the prospect of me getting a tattoo.
As predicted, she highly opposed the idea and in the heat of the discussion, she accidentally blurted out “because your body is mine” when I asked her why I should listen to her and not do whatever I want.
I was almost 25 years old at the time.
Imagine my shock hearing that statement.
My body… is my parent’s?
Here is where my mother differed from the woman who took her 17-year-old to court.
She was equally as shocked and horrified as I was upon hearing what came out of her mouth.
She realized how ludicrous she sounded and we both went into silence for a few seconds, our eyes locked.
We burst out laughing (for some reason) and she told me she didn’t mean what she said and it was wrong of her to say it.
She didn’t agree to the tattoo, but she made it clear that my body is my own and she trusted my judgment and capability to take care of it.
“Do you know such and such’s daughter might actually “like” girls?” My mother said in a slightly conspiratorial tone.
“Yeah, I know. Why?” I answered, nonchalantly. Lesbian, girls like girls. Okay, so?
What’s wrong with being lesbian?
“I can’t imagine if it’s my own kids,” she replied.
It stopped me from whatever I was doing and I looked at her inquisitively.
“Do you love me, L and S?” I asked, referring to my siblings and me.
“Yes of course! What kind of question is that?” my mother answered.
“So what would you do if one of us goes to you and tells you we’re gay?”
“There’s no way…” my mother began.
“Let’s say that it really happens. What would you do? Would you disown us? Cut us out from your life? Keep us under lock and key? What?”
My mother went quiet for some time then, “No, I would still love you. I told you once that you can always come to me whenever you have a problem, and I will stand by you even when the whole world turns its back on you. I stand by my word.”
Words I will never forget for the rest of my life.
It was the moment I was fully convinced — this woman who brought me into this world, who breathed life into my body, truly loves me. (Please don’t say “of course she loves you, she gave birth to you”. I’ve heard enough true crime stories to know that’s not always the case.)
It was also the moment I learned that it is really, really not easy to truly love someone.
The world is evolving at a dizzying speed.
Knowledge is piling up.
The longer our species roam this Earth, the more we learn. Not only about this beautiful home, we have inhabited for millennia, we are also learning many many things about ourselves.
I wanted to say it was easier to love back then, before technology, before we have information at the tip of our fingers, in the blink of our eyes.
But as I am typing this, I realize that that is not true.
In every era, every years past, there are always things that make loving a bit more difficult than it should be.
The pre-Internet era you have difficulties in communication between lovers separated by distance, people who are different from others yet have no access to more information as to why they are different and if there are others out there who are different like them. Researches were still being done and as our kind dug deeper and slowly progressing, many had to suffer.
Living in the post-Internet era, we have a different set of problems when it comes to loving others. Not only love in a romantic sense but also in parenthood and family relationship.
We have come a long way, learned a great deal about our species.
We understand that we are all different and it’s absolutely okay to be different.
This poses a whole new challenge for parents.
“How much do you love your children?” becomes a much more complex question.
Sure, you can say you would lay down your life for your children. I know I would.
You can say you love your children a billion times but when the test comes, when your children differ from society at large, from your expectation, would you still love your children all the same?
I once had an argument with my husband over a hypothetical situation (we love a healthy challenging discussion/argument).
I told him I would love my kids even if they are gay.
I am pro-love. I don’t care about your colour, your nationality, your political affiliation, your gender or whatever perimeter people set others apart these days.
I love you for who you are and there’s that.
Because in the end, and I’ve said in many of my articles, it’s not about you, it’s not about the world, it’s about me.
My love and actions speak about who I am and I am very clear about the kind of person I want to be.
I don’t care what others think about me.
I care what I think about me.
I hold myself accountable and I make sure whatever I do, I am able to live with myself.
My husband is a very kind, loving and caring man (I wouldn’t marry him otherwise). When it comes to LGBTQ people, he’s pretty much neutral and treats everyone equally kindly and nicely regardless of their gender.
He has no issue with LGBTQ. In our argument, he simply couldn’t accept the hypothetical situation of our children being gay.
I suppose he was at the same crossroad as my mother the day I had the ‘hypothetical gay’ conversation with her.
My husband just couldn’t wrap his head around the acceptance as fast as my mother because we are not parents yet.
There are no children in flesh and blood yet and thus, it is easier to say no.
Anyway, it was hypothetical and we realized how ridiculous it was to fight over it.
We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
The point is, it is easy to say “I love you”, “I’ll die for you” or “I’ll give you everything I have”.
How much are you willing to give? How far are you willing to go?
Because as simple and easy as it sounds, loving someone is really NOT as simple and as easy as it sounds.
I am very fortunate to be surrounded by people who I know truly mean what they say when they tell me they love me. I’ve seen it time and time again.
No judgment, only sympathetic/empathetic ears paired with a big warm hug whenever I need it.
Love and loving — these two things have been thrown around too casually these days.
I have seen, heard a lot of people said they love someone. But their actions speak otherwise.
I was debating whether I should write this piece since I am not yet a parent. What do I know?
But then I realized I have to.
I have been gifted with a pair of wonderful parents, a loving accepting family and friends, and a valuable insight.
I can’t talk to you from a parent’s perspective but from a child’s perspective, I can tell you that when my mother accidentally blurted out “your body is mine” what I felt and thought was I have no autonomy over my own body? This body where my consciousness resides is not mine?
I could have carried that with me into my relationship, letting my partner has his way with my body because hey, it’s not really mine, right? Having been raised in a heavily patriarchal society would have only made it worse.
If I cannot trust myself with my own body, who can I trust?
It’s confusing and terrifying.
But my mother ensured that I know my body is mine and I can say no, even to her, the person who had brought me into this world.
I know some parents think they know better than their children. Even though that’s true in many instances, (I learned the hard way to always listen to my parents) parents don’t always know better than their children.
It was when my parents acknowledge that truth that our relationship began to flourish.
I read voraciously. I devour books and articles, consuming knowledge, quenching my thirst for insights and lessons. My parents, not so much.
However, they’ve been here way longer than I have. They have gone through hell and back.
Would I listen to them? HELL YES!
Would they force their opinions on me? HELL NO.
They fully understood and accepted that sometimes, when it comes to certain things, their children know better.
We learn from each other, we help each other, and that’s the beauty of being openminded and accepting. It creates a strong bond between people.
Before you decide your children are not to be trusted with their own body, and that you know better because you’re the parent, ask yourself these questions:
Do I really love my children?
How much do I love my children?
To what length am I willing to go for my children?
And if you do know better than your children and that they really should listen to you, ask yourself this question:
Who should my children turn to in decision making when I’m gone if I keep making decisions for them?
Teach your children how to make the decision.
Give them advice, valuable input.
Don’t take that decision making power away from them.
As harsh as it sounds, you won’t be by their side forever.
You want to make sure they know how to make their own decisions, understand the consequences that come with their decisions and not let others take the decision making power away from them when you’re gone.
The world can be a cruel place for those who don’t know how to defend their minds.
Teach your children how to trust their own judgment.
Accept them for who they are.
Thank you for reading. If you like this, you’ll also like:
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