Raising My Rainbow is Lori Duron’s frank, heartfelt, and brutally funny account of her and her family’s adventures of distress and happiness raising a gender-creative son.
Written in Lori’s uniquely witty and warm voice and launched by her incredibly popular blog of the same name, Raising My Rainbow is the unforgettable story of her wonderful family as they navigate the often challenging but never dull privilege of raising a slightly effeminate, possibly gay, totally fabulous son.
Books for Better Living: It takes a lot of courage to open up to the world about your life through a blog and now this book. Why did you want to share your story?
Lori Duron: I had been searching online for resources for parents of gender nonconforming children and couldn’t find anything. I decided to be the thing that I was looking for and I started my blog, RaisingMyRainbow.com, about the daily adventures in raising a fabulous, gender creative child. My greatest hope was that I would find and connect with other families like ours. I also wanted to educate people about raising a child who shuns traditional gender norms. I never set out to be an advocate, I just hoped that by giving readers a glimpse into our lives they would see that my son isn’t weird, he’s just different. I want to encourage people to judge less and empathize more so that the world can be more open minded and hearted for kids like my son. After a year of blogging I was given the opportunity to write a book based on my blog.
BBL: You write about how you lost several friends throughout this experience. If someone happens to know a family going through something similar, how can they be a good friend to them?
LD: Be a kind, caring and accepting person. Listen to and watch for what your friend and their family needs and do what you can to meet those needs. Learn the differences between sex, gender and sexuality. Stop to think about how hard life – or at least certain situations – can be when raising a gender nonconforming child. Tell and show your friend that your friendship isn’t conditional. Above all else, love the child.
BBL: You had good advice from your therapist about dealing with worries about your kids. Ask yourself “What are you afraid of?” and “And then what would happen?” What are you afraid of these days?
LD: I fear for C.J.’s wellbeing and that people will dull his sparkle. The statistics for boys like him are pretty grim. They have the highest suicide attempt rate in the world and are more likely to suffer from major depression, substance abuse and unsafe sexual behaviors in adulthood. Like any mother, I want him to be happy, healthy, self-sufficient and to feel loved.
BBL: One of the most heartbreaking parts of the book is the bullying your son Chase had to endure. But it sounds like you learned a lot about how to deal with bullies as a parent. What’s the first step you would tell parents to take if they suspect their kids are being bullied.
LD: Talk to your child. If you suspect that something is going on, you’re probably right. Then, talk to his or her teacher and the administration at the school. Your child has the right to feel safe at school; if they don’t, something needs to change. We were told that what was happening to Chase was “age appropriate teasing.” It didn’t feel like that to me, but I initially trusted the school’s judgment because I thought that they were experts on kids, bullying and schooling. Teachers and administrators aren’t always the experts that you hope them to be. Parents need know their state’s safe school laws and Title IX.
BBL: Your story is such a good lesson in accepting your kids for who they are, even if they aren’t necessarily gender nonconforming. What tips do you have for parents of all stripes in this area?
LD: We had an ah-ha moment when we realized that we, as parents, are here to love our children, not change them. When C.J. was first showing signs of gender nonconformity and we were struggling with our feelings about it, we realized that we were worrying about the reactions of strangers. You can’t parent that way. Our job is to make our son – not other people – comfortable. Most of all, if you have been given a unique parenting journey try to enjoy it as much as possible. We have fashion shows, paint our nails and are always in search of the next glittery craft to do. We could spend every moment of every day focused on how our son is different or we can have fun with it. We choose fun.
[Interview courtesy of Amy Leibrock]