Today, I can say I am the proud mother of a non-binary young adult, but things haven't always been that way. At first, I didn't understand what being "non-bi" meant, and out of fear and uncertainty, I responded with negativity and pushed back!
I remember it like it was just yesterday:
“Mom, it means they are non-binary”.
I heard the words unmistakably emerge from my middle son’s mouth. His voice was steady. He seemed to know what he was saying. He seemed to understand it and have no issues with it. And more importantly, his elder sibling didn’t say anything to disagree with him. In fact, they didn’t say anything at all.
And thus began my quest for knowledge.
My eldest offspring identifies as non-binary (pronouns; they/them) I like to describe them as “a non-binary young adult human”, but they are not too kin on the word "human"...LOL.
The first time we met, I fell truly, madly, deeply in love. It was instant! A love as intense as any other, it was mutual. They loved me as much as I loved them. And it has lasted like it should...
I have always known they are in the LGBTQ+ community. I just knew, don’t ask me how. My usual response to the quizzical stares I often receive when I give that response is particularly to Nigerian, is;
"A mother always knows."
I knew and I accepted them as gay to the best of my ability while struggling with my own inner demons originating from my Catholic-Christian childhood. At one point, my fears led me to send them to a friend who was also a pastor! To this moment, I still don't fully know why I did that.
What did I want as an outcome from that encounter for my child? Why did I do that? The truth is I still loved my child, and wanted the best for them. I still feel so bad to this day when I think about it and what it did to them. But, you live and you learn and you move on.
Today, while I fully support them and some of our family members have warmed up to the idea, some others have no intention to, and quite frankly, I could care less anymore. Enough damage has been done to my child. I am done being ashamed, and feeling bad, and after taking a long look at myself, my thoughts, actions and their results. I knew that my child was hurting and something needed to change.
Here’s what I care about: the fact that I, am a member of the community, I am a pediatrician with over 30 years experience, and a self-proclaimed youth suicide prevention activist. Knowing what I know about the effect of parental rejection on LGBTQ+ youth (particularly transgender and nonbinary youth), I still pushed back when I made the discovery about their gender!
I pushed back with all my might. I resisted their “non-binaryness”. I wanted to understand what it was and what it meant before supporting them. I wanted time to mourn the loss of my child…” I wanted to hold on to my own ideals, and to the dreams I have for my child. But by so doing, I forgot about said child, and hijacked the agenda!
And yes, I made it about me!
It took bit of a showdown and the following words tumbling out of their mouth for me to stop, redress and get with it.
“Mom, it’s not about you!”
Hmmm. How many of us think it is about us? How many of us make it about us? How many inadvertently make it about us, our friends, our family, our colleagues at work, the neighbors, and everyone in between? Everyone except our child.
How many of us pause to think and remember what we all wanted from our parents as teens? Visibility and Validation. We all wanted to be seen and heard, believed, respected, and sometimes, just left alone.
How and why then do we forget those basic concepts when our kids come out of the closet? Needless to say; for some of our kids, it is a matter of life and death as bullying, homelessness and suicide are more common in this community.
When it comes to acceptance, it should always begin at home. The life of our LGBTQ+ children can literally be hanging on the balance. It is hard enough being them. Let’s not add our own flavors to theirs.
I simply decided I would be supportive and accept them. No questions asked. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I had to do it. I knew I had to be in their life as they grow older.
So, I went about educating myself, and looking for support from a community, when I didn't find a ready community, I created one, Positively Parenting Your LGBTQ+ Child(ren). Today, we have grown from a handful of friends to nearly 2K members.
All parents of newly out LGBTQ+ children, and even a few "elderly states-parents" who have been in the game for a while, ready and happy to pour into the young'uns as and when needed.
I help them accept, understand and support their children so they can thrive and live their lives out loud without fear of judgement or limitations!
Could you be my client?
Are you struggling with doubts, uncertainty, guilt, or even shame? Are you afraid and possibly not able to understand what being LGBTQ+ means? How to respond to your child, who you should become? Do you know what your child wants from you? Can you provide it?
Welcome to this space. It is dedicated to parents like you, by a parent just like you. I am here to help. I will share my stories, my fears, my wins, and my challenges. It will be fun, and exciting, it will challenge you and soothe you. My hope is that it will be a source of light for you along your journey. I also have an 8-week long group coaching program for parents that launches early next month. Details to follow.
For now, do me a few favors, sign up for my newsletter @www.dr-lulu.com, check out my podcast "The Pride Corner: Our Coming Out Stories & More" on Instagram, YouTube and everywhere podcasts are streamed, check out my books on Amazon, and kindly tell someone about this blog. I know, it's a lot, but... tee hee hee :)