Self-Doubt and the Easy Way Out
Parents of kids who think they’re trans or non-binary spend a lot of time on an emotional hamster wheel, cycling through all the feelings: Confusion. Sadness. Guilt. Anger. Regret. Despair. Loneliness. Doubt.
I get super caught up in that last one.
Was I too stereotypically feminine, and that turned my daughter against herself? Or was I not feminine enough?
Did my openly liberal-minded views make her more susceptible to indoctrination? Or was I not liberal enough?
Was I too hard on her about her schoolwork, house rules, chores? Or was I not hard enough?
Should I have not focused on my own health for those two years before middle school? Or should I have done even more for my own health?
Did I err in taking a job that required me to be in an office versus at home? Or should I have been away more to let her learn accountability?
Was I missing opportunities to tell her I loved her? Or did I smother her with love?
Did I pay too much attention to her sibling? Did I not pay enough attention to her sibling?
Would we be better living in another state? If we moved, would she only further rebel and entrench herself?
Should I have put her in private school? Should I have fought harder and been more involved with the public school?
Should I have taken away social media? Or should I have controlled her access?
Did we give her too much without having to earn it? Or did we somehow give her too little?
Should I have let her go to that camp, that therapist, that school club, that all affirmed her? Or should I have sequestered her in our house and built attachment?
Should I have put her on anti-depressants? Or gotten her exercising, eating well, and working on coping skills?
Was it a mistake to live so far away from family? Or is it better because they don’t have to witness this train wreck in person?
Will I ever remember what it feels like to not be in turmoil? Will I be able to function if I do?
Was there One Thing that caused all of this in her? Or was it a Lot of Little Things?
Am I wrong about all of the gender critical stuff I read and believe? Or should I trust my gut and my convictions?
Have I closed my mind? Or is it more open than ever?
Am I transphobic, horrible parent? Or am I a good and loving parent?
Should I spend more time trying to convince my daughter of the dangers, lack of logic, and poor data? Or will that turn her away from me?
Do I emotionally divest myself of this fight when she turns 18? Or do I continue to battle for her, even though she doesn’t want me to?
Am I crazy for not affirming? Would I be crazy if I did?
Does she hate me because I don’t affirm her? Will she eventually hate me if I do?
Is this all my fault? Or is none of it my fault?
What if I’m wrong and she’s right? What if I’m right and she’s wrong?
Will I ever get my daughter back?
Most days I can cope with these doubts. But there are brief moments each day where one or more of these questions nag at me, seducing me toward a different path. Sometimes, it’s hard to find your way back to your convictions and your courage. But we get up and do it, every day. We’re not the parents taking the easy way out.