Category Archives: parenting

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Mama Bears

You’ve probably seen us lately. We’re the moms holding pink, white, and blue signs that talk about peeing in bathrooms. We show up to Town Hall meetings and spend our days calling our representatives. We flood our Facebook pages with political posts, op-eds about bathroom bills, and the need to stand up for human rights.

Many of us probably had dreams of living a simple life. A family, a career, Friday night pizza night, PTO meetings, and after school activities. But, life took a decided turn when we discovered that our child was transgender because that changed everything.

We suddenly found ourselves as unexpected advocates in a war that we didn’t know was waging. You’d think we’d get used to the ugly comments, the thinly-veiled innuendos, the intrusive questions about our child’s anatomy, or their surgical status.

And, to some extent we do. We pick our battles, educate, share our stories, and try to determine if someone is asking out of a genuine desire to learn, or to arm themselves for a future battle. We do it willingly because we are Mama Bears and we will always protect our children.

We have been called a lot of terrible things by people who don’t agree with the choices our families have made. We’ve been accused of child abuse, of displaying weak parenting skills and creating no boundaries for our children. We’ve dealt with innuendos that inappropriate things were done to our children to “make them that way.”

But, I actually laughed tonight when someone accused Mama Bears like me of using our children as political pawns. Advocating for our children’s rights by talking to our representatives is our job as parents. But, we’ve been given no choice because the federal government has decided to take away the only road map schools had for navigating a civil rights issue that directly impacts our children. We didn’t make our children political pawns. We found ourselves unwilling subjects in a political storm that was already raging before we showed up.

Transgender children face incredible challenges. The attempted suicide rate for the transgender community is greater than 40%. The risk is over 50% for those who face discrimination and bullying in school. The risk is also higher for transgender youth of color who face significantly more violence than their white counterparts.

This is a time when being a white transgender person is extremely hard. Try to imagine how much more difficult it is to be brown, Muslim, or an immigrant in addition to being transgender. Too frequently, I get word about another child who fell victim to the challenges of their existence and another parent whose heart was ripped to pieces, their life forever changed.

I cannot understand why anyone would want to make life harder for this group of children. It baffles me that the federal government is taking the position to let states decide if it is okay to discriminate against transgender youth. Why are they adding themselves to the list of bullies instead of becoming their biggest protector?

How can a child learn to become a functioning member of society if they aren’t even allowed to do the most basic of human functions without discrimination? How can they focus on reading and math when their bathroom options are to get yelled at or to get beat up? Or just as bad, to “out” them to the rest of the school by forcing them into a unisex bathroom. Unisex bathrooms are not the answer when it tells a child that their existence poses a danger to the rest of their friends.

You will continue to see Mama Bears showing up at your Town Halls. We will flood your Twitter feeds, your Facebook pages, your op-eds, and your phone lines. We will continue to invite you to meet with us, meet our amazing children, and learn about the challenges we face as a family. You’ve given us no choice by attacking our children. We are your constituents and we will keep shouting louder and louder until you hear the cries of our dying offspring.

We will keep fighting because we are Mama Bears. And we are angry.

 

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Cutting down on screen time

Not every topic can be about transgender issues. Why? Because at the end of the day, we’re still a really typical family. During a recent interview, I was asked what I would want other people to know about us and my reply was that overall, we’re shockingly normal. So normal, in fact, that I think most parents can relate to what I’m going to talk about today.

We’ve all been there, and at this point in the summer, you’re probably pretty frustrated by the questions about ,”Can I get on the computer? Can I go on Minecraft? Can I watch YouTube? Can I play Wii? Can I play Road Blocks? Can I get on Roku? Can I watch Netflix? Can I (insert screen-themed request)?”

It Drives.

Me.

Crazy.

Which I’m convinced they know because they’ve perfected the art of asking in tandem until I’m raising a white flag and beating my head into the corner.

It was one of those peaceful moments when they were losing brain cells in front of YouTube and I was losing mine in front of Pinterest (hey, if you can’t beat them, join them) when I ran across this little gem.

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You can find it here. I adapted it to fit our needs as we were still finishing up some homeschooling at the time.  And, you can see I added some important additional rules.

 No Screen Time Each Day Until

We’ve been using this method for about 2 months and it’s working great. My kids are doing basic hygiene everyday WITHOUT me nagging them constantly. And, best of all, they don’t ask about the computer until all of this is done. Most days.

I have a chore list right next to this one and they are both firmly attached to the fridge. It’s cut down on so many questions. Yes, each new chore they attempt requires explanations, demonstrations, and occasionally tears (usually mine), but it’s working out better than I had hoped.

It’s like magic.

If you have any other tips and tricks to cut down on screen time, nagging, or other things that drive you crazy then I’d love to hear them!