My first two children acquired the words “Dad,” “Dog,” and a few dozen others before any name for me emerged. So it was an unexpected ode to motherhood when I heard Storm intone “Mum” just after a year. My heart felt full. The story becomes more beautiful. At 18 months, Storm had already been saying “Dad” for a few weeks, when one day, I watched with some mixture of amusement and stunned curiosity as Storm addressed David. “Mom, annie urse?” which translates to, “Mom, another nurse.” Storm was asking David to breastfeed!
Without hesitation, he cuddled Storm in a nursing position, and a tiny nose tucked itself into David’s naked breast. With closed eyes, adult and child were lost in a close embrace for two full minutes...From experiences such as this she concludes
[t]here’s tremendous untapped creative power in children’s diversification of the gender landscape. We’re busy generating new labels (like gender fluid, gender creative or gender independent), organizing task forces and discussing gender non-conformity as if it’s an outbreak. While trained professionals in the 21st century write; “yes, a new pediatric problem is in town,” the real courage of gender-creative children unfolds.
Gender nonconformity is not a problem to fix. These children are sidelining a dangerous status quo, risking censure to express a diversity that promises to transform the rigid teeter totter of binary gender into a more inclusive, joyful roundabout. Agency and freedom of expression are that important to being human, and gender nonconforming children are sticking up for everyone’s right to both.
The Search Institute’s developmental assets framework names 40 markers of healthy development in children, including self esteem, integrity, honesty, and personal power. Empirical research suggests that children with those internal assets (and external assets like family support) will be more likely to thrive.
I watch my nonconformers observe the status quo (what’s outside), acknowledge with confidence personal preferences, thoughts, feelings and interests (what’s inside) and synthesize the two into responsible, self-honouring choices.
Nutty as almond bark, no?Not always, but enough that I understand that these skills would be useful to all children. It’s novel to see children gather empowerment in a way that doesn’t rely on obtaining it through denying others a fair share.