When you look at your child(ren) what do you see? Beauty? Potential? Vulnerability? Curiosity? Capacity? Wonder? Intelligence? Hope? Or do you see flaws, fears, anxieties, failure? Do you see a boy with an endless thirst for knowledge? A girl twirling her way to Broadway?
If how we see our sons and daughters is reflected daily in our eyes, how do you think we affect the way they see themselves? When my son looks in the mirror I know he doesn’t always embrace the image that stares back. His reflection is a blended concoction of what he feels, who he wants to be, how we make him feel and much more. What he sees is a hybrid of a sort.
Often we worry about our kids – are they making good choices in the important areas of their life? When they are little, it’s pretty easy to control who they have play dates with, what they are viewing on the screen and what they wear. As they get older and more independent it is increasingly difficult to control; influence is what we hope for.
Our children see disappointment on our faces when they make a poor choice. I learned early on that I have to pick my battles. Putting my foot down about clothing (as long as it meets dress code) is probably not a fight worth having. Enforcing a no tattoo, no ear gauges, no blue hair policy makes me less popular. However, these are battles that I fight and will continue to fight. This is how I teach my son to respect his body.
When I look at my son I see a beautiful child with incredible potential. I see a boy that owns a place in my heart that is buried deep within my soul. When I look at my son I see someone longing to fit in, hoping to belong, wishing to feel normal. I see a young man in the making.
My hope is that the choices I make and the ways in which I view him will positively influence the choices that he makes and the ever evolving reflection he sees daily as he combs his hair and adjusts his collar.
Individuals with body dysphoria don’t see a reflection that makes them happy. When they look in the mirror they are often disgusted with what they see. It’s difficult to see hope, confidence and self-esteem when the image staring back at you is so foreign from what is expected. Many transgender men and women are plagued with body dysphoria. Trans FTM and MTF have similar yet different issues with how they see themselves.