Hi Lori and welcome to The Phil Factor. Thank you for taking some time from your busy schedule to answer some questions for my readers. For those of you not familiar with Lori’s work yet, she is the author of the blog and the book, both titled Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son.
TPF: Your blog and book are about raising a son, C.J., who from a very young age hasn’t fit the societal gender stereotypes when it comes to his dress, choice of activities or behaviors. How has having such a creative son enriched your life in ways you never expected?
Lori: First, thanks for acknowledging that raising a gender creative child has enriched my life. So often, people assume that it has had only a negative impact on my life. C.J. is so fun and sparkly. He’s creative and free and so set on being who he was created to be. He’s taught us not to care what other people think and to have more empathy. He’s taught us to judge less and accept more. He’s so entirely authentic that it makes everyone around him want to live that way too. It’s inspiring.
TPF: When I read your accounts of how C.J. looks at things from a very different point of view I imagine that he often unintentionally educates you or changes your perspective. What is the most impactful thing you’ve learned from C.J.?
Lori: He’s taught me to just let people be themselves. He’s taught me to let go of expectations because they can be so foolish. And, he’s taught me that as a parent, I’m here to love my children and support them, not change them. That’s really freeing in many ways.
TPF: Has C.J. realized yet what a celebrity he has become as a result of your blog and book? How does he react to the publicity?
Lori: Both of my boys know about the book and blog. They are very proud of what we have done as a family, but their lives are largely the same as they were before all of this. They go to school and their extracurricular activities and, on the weekends, we spend time with family and friends. We’ve never been recognized when out in public. The moms at school gossip about us, but the boys don’t notice. We do get to go to special events and sometimes get spoiled by readers, and they really like that.
C.J. wants “everybody in the world and even America” to read the book so that everybody will know he is gender nonconforming and he’ll never have to explain it again. But, alas, that has not happened.
TPF: Speaking of celebrities, Neil Patrick Harris wrote the Foreword for your book. How did that come about?
Lori: Neil and David have become friends of our family and are so supportive. They are great parents and C.J. knows that around their family and friends he can totally be himself. He sees them singing and dancing and wants to be them when he grows up. Which is cool with me, because when your son aspires to be like Neil and David when he grows up, you have to think he’s chosen wisely.
TPF: What’s the best reaction you’ve ever seen from someone who has met C.J. ?
Lori: People are usually surprised that he’s such a happy kid. That’s what most people say and that, in turn, makes me happy. That’s what I want for both of my kids, to be happy. So many kids like C.J. aren’t, because they are being stifled or told that who they are is wrong. C.J. is really comfortable with himself and there are no signs of distress, anxiety, depression or unhappiness. He thinks he’s awesome.
TPF: How long did it take you and your husband to go from panic and worry to enjoying C.J.’s uniqueness? Does the worry ever go completely away? What helps?
Lori: It’s been an evolution for sure. The first year was really hard and there were definitely parenting moments that I’m not proud of today. It’s been an evolution for every member of our family and for those friends who have decided to remain in our lives. There were certain things that helped us get to a place of acceptance: reading the book “Gender Born, Gender Made,” blogging, connecting with other families like ours and meeting with a gender therapist. Other than those things, time and patience were huge helpers.
TPF: What is your absolute favorite story related to C.J.’s gender creativity?
Lori: Right before school started one year C.J. wanted girl’s underwear. My husband and I drew a line and wouldn’t let him get girl’s underwear. We explained that there wasn’t enough room up front and they would hurt his boy bits. A few days later, I was standing in a long line at a retail store when he wandered away. He was up by the register in view of the entire line when he held up a package of Little Mermaid underwear for girls. He held them high above his head and yelled to me “Mommy, will these hurt my balls and weiner?!” I was so embarrassed and had to remind myself that one day the scene would be funny. And, here we are today.
Lori, thank you for your time and your sharing. For those of you who want to read Lori’s blog, which has something in every post that makes me smile, you can find it at RaisingMyRainbow.com. (For those of you blogging on WordPress, she’s one of us) Her book can be found in paperback and for Kindle, Nook, iPad and everything else. As always folks, if you like what you read here at #ThePhilFactor please share by one of the social media buttons below.
Picture credits: http://www.durangoherald.com, crownpublishing.com