And, as is the case usually when I have the afternoon free, I read. I finished two books today, in fact!
Something I've always struggled with, but perhaps more in the last few years, is watching parents display love for their children that I feel is conditional, or misplaced, or judging, or in some way harmful. I have always heard/read/been taught that the love between a parent and a child is the purest form of love that exists. However, not being a parent myself, it's hard for me to weigh in. Even if I were, it's almost never my place to say anything when I'm observing a situation like the one I mentioned, and when it is, my feedback generally wouldn't be well received.
One of the books I read today was a collection of essays written by parents of transgender children. Reading of their heartbreak, struggles, and yet (usually) unconditional love was so moving. There are many things that a parent would likely struggle with when raising a child, but none that are so life-changing for both parties as coming-out as transgender. For the more religious and conservative families, many of the parents question their parenting abilities and where they "went wrong." Yet the overwhelming theme in these essays was the happiness of their child, not the parents' individual stance on morality.
I had this beautiful baby given to me, and my one and only wish was for his happiness. - Debi Russell
I have often wondered if I had a child who came out as gender-nonconforming or gay, how I would respond. I would certainly like to think it wouldn't bother me in the slightest. I have a lesbian aunt, several close gender-nonconforming friends, and queer customers I interact with on a nearly-daily basis. However, I think my conservative upbringing would lead me to react poorly at first.
It was so heart-warming to read that it's okay to not always say the right thing. That, even though your heart is in the right place and your love for your child is evident, you'll sometimes make mistakes along the way. The most important person in that relationship is not you; it is your child.
We signed up as parents to be the best guides for him that we can be, not for us, but for him. - Cheryl Kilodavis
This book just reinforced everything I've been reading lately about love. I've really been struggling with the position I see from a lot of fundamental Christians, which is love within the constraints of their moral position and "guidance" if your actions are outside of their moral comfort zone, which doesn't typically look very loving.
So anyway, all that to say the book Transitions of the Heart: Stories of Love, Struggle, and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children is fabulous. It gives some beautiful examples of love if you need a pick-me-up, and allows for a glimpse into a world you probably wouldn't otherwise view.