I was involved with this online group of moms who all mostly raised their kids this same way. Most of us were politically liberal, very intentional in how we raised our kids, and raised our children in a more or less attachment parenting style.
I was part of that group of moms (and one dad) for about 16 years and am still in touch with many, so I get to see how the kids are turning out so far. While there are differences among the kids based on the individual kids’ achievements and the parents’ goals for them, one thing stands out: there’s a way higher percentage of LGBT and non-gender-conforming kids among the group, including one of my own.
I’ve been pondering the issue and trying to guess why there’s such a predominance of LGBT or non-gender-conforming kids among the group.
Is it because the vast majority of us parents were liberal? I’d have to say no to that because I also know kids who are LGBT whose parents didn’t raise them the way our group did and who aren’t especially liberal.
I think my explanation is that we always had the belief that we’d respect our children as individuals, no matter what they did. We weren’t a group that endorsed spanking kids, for example, preferring gentler discipline solutions instead.
It started with a different view of children from infancy. We felt that breastfeeding was not only natural but a child’s birthright. Many of us, including me, fought hard to make breastfeeding work. We preferred keeping our babies close to us, whether carrying them in a sling or letting them sleep next to us. We didn’t force weaning upon them, instead following the child’s lead for when they were ready. We were anti-circumcision, believing it was not our right to alter our children’s bodies so permanently without their consent. Most of us used cloth diapers, believing it was healthier for the child and the planet.
It was a very child-centric type of parenting. Overall, it was just a very child-focused environment we raised them in. We challenged each other to be better, more conscious parents.
I like to think that there’s a disproportionate number of LGBT/queer/non-gender-conforming kids among the group, not because the parenting style caused it, but because we accepted our kids as who they really are. I think the kids would’ve still been LGBT anyway but they were more accepted because of the families they were born into.
I knew my kid was somewhere on the LGBT spectrum when he was 5. When he finally talked to me about it, I wasn’t surprised at all. His journey toward self-acceptance has taken a lot longer than my and my husband’s acceptance of him has taken.
But at the same time, we never raised him or his brothers with gender stereotypes. We taught that boys can cook and nurture and women can be powerful and not as maternal. Part of me wonders what role that played, if any.
I think maybe we were just given these kids as the universe’s gift to the kids as individuals. The kids were still going to struggle with society’s treatment of them as individuals who fall outside the norm; at least they didn’t have to deal with parental judgment as well.
After all, if connection and acceptance were the whole point of the parenting style, maybe we were given them because we could handle it. Respect for your kids doesn’t end when they take a different path than the one you might have chosen for them.