Support Systems

Support systems are at times ignored. As parents, we seek help for our children via therapists, counselors, after school clubs and such. But we often forget that we ourselves may benefit from a support system.
I am guilty of not seeking out a support system. One of the reasons that I have a strong dislike for support systems is that I don’t prefer to need help. As I get older, I’m learning that needing help is not necessarily a bad thing. However, my stubbornness gets in the way of my learning occasionally…. Friends and family often make a large portion of an individual’s support system. They are the ones that we go to and discuss events and changes in our lives with. And as much as they are great listeners and amazing helpers, sometimes there is a need for some outside help. This help disguises itself in many different forms.
Locally, there is a new group offering advice on how to help support those in our lives that may be experiencing some gender identity issues. I looked at the flyer and thought it would be great for myself to attend and see if I am on the right path to supporting Peyton as he grows and changes. Then I thought that my best friend attending it would be great as well. That then evolved into her daughter attending the group. Though her daughter is 13, I think it is the perfect age to learn how beneficial it is to support each other as people.
As I thought more and more about the group, I started to think that the staff that is directly involved with Peyton at school might get something from the group as well. There’s a certain fear that creeps up my body each and every time that I have to discuss with teachers and staff at school anything that has to do with Peyton personally. For me, it is incredibly scary to think that someone might reject Peyton because of who he is. I cannot imagine how this feels on a daily basis to those that are gender identity different from what is considered “typical”. With a large amount of trepidation, I approached several teachers about the group. While not wanting to know the answer, I eventually asked the teachers if they had any issue with the fact that Peyton is trans. Not an easy question to ask, and I’m sure it is not an easy one for some to answer. Religion, culture, traditions, and environment are huge parts of our daily lives. While I don’t think it is okay for someone to not accept the LGBTQ community, I do understand where it is that they are coming from. The responses I received were positive ones. That aspect of kids or people doesn’t matter to them. Relief flooded through me with the replies. Being 5 Peyton doesn’t quite see the looks and thoughts racing through some people’s faces. But at some point, he will feel the hesitation and the disapproval that some may have towards him and the LGBTQ community. Part of my job as a parent is to shield him from those feelings. Not because I don’t want him to learn how to deal with these reactions that will come from others, but because I want him to not have those experiences for as long as possible. He will have enough of them when he is a little bit older. I did not receive a clear answer as to whether any of the staff members would attend the group. Educators are often busy in the summer as they prepare for the coming year. I did however realize that these teachers and staff are a support system for me and for Peyton. They indirectly support me by being supportive and accepting of Peyton. For the moment, he is a “normal” kid living his life at school. The teachers and staff really try to make this aspect of his life (his school life) as “normal” as they possibly can.
Currently, these teachers and staff make it easier for me to talk to them about Peyton, not less scary, but easier in a sense. And throughout this year I have discovered that they are an incredible support system for myself and Peyton.
My advice to parents out there? Make the time for the support systems. They will ease the fears in your mind.

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