'Raising My Rainbow': Bringing a child up free of gender parameters.
By David Burtka and Neil Patrick Harris
We first found out about Raising My Rainbow while discussing our twins and their development with some friends. It was the type of conversation that new parents have all the time. Mostly, these discussions revolve around retelling stories of our toddlers’ silly antics, showing off their latest and very nuanced finger-painting accomplishments (we can’t help but be proud), or if we’re really lucky, unveiling some new development in stroller-folding technology that is guaranteed to free up more trunk space for our double diaper bags. Why are strollers so big?
But, in truth, we scour these seemingly breezy conversations for any sign of parenting expertise we may have missed. It’s our way of soothing the nagging fear that some critical information on child rearing has been overlooked, despite our reading a myriad of books on child raising, scrolling the Internet for product recalls till 2:00 a.m., grilling our parents for the “wisdom of the ages,” and seeking the advice of doctors at the slightest sniffle. Like many, we are parents who want answers for everything.
So, we began reading the Raising My Rainbow blog. Mostly out of curiosity at first. After all, neither of our children had demonstrated any signs of wanting to push gender boundaries.
In fact, quite the opposite was true. Harper loves dresses and hairstyles. Gideon wants to take everything apart to see how it works. Our kids seemed comfortable in this regard and, except that none of Gideon’s cars have wheels on them, we were too. So, we decided to accept our living room as a miniature auto body shop and moved on.
But we kept reading the blog (and later the book you’re sure to pick up and won’t be able to put down). We were struck by the stories about C.J. As far as we know, Raising My Rainbow is the first book published by a parent of a gender nonconforming child. We became enthralled by the challenges he and his parents face, which are so different than ours. We admired their bravery for striking out into uncharted territory and wondered if maybe it was the bravery of little C.J. that gives them that strength. After all, there’s something inherently powerful and beautiful about a child’s natural unobstructed instincts for play and creativity. We see it in our own children every day. But it also takes a lot of consideration to know how to best balance a child’s instincts with the need to guide and protect them. It’s our role as parents. We were fascinated with the daring balance C.J.’s family chose to strike and empathized with their fear of not knowing what the outcome of their parenting choices would be.
But, beyond being fascinated with this family and awed by their level of communication and trust, that nagging blip was still there on our baby radar, searching for that missing kernel of knowledge… . What was the takeaway for us?
Then it hit us. Despite how unique this book’s story is, in it we found a commonality that all families share. We all want what’s best for our children. We are all desperate to make the right decisions for them, often in the face of a lot of very serious unknowns. We may not all agree with each other’s choices, but in the end, we share one thing: we would give anything, absolutely anything, to see them grow up happy and healthy.
Parenting is a scary place to be, for all of us. No matter what scope of challenges our little bundles of joy present. It’s certainly the biggest, most challenging role we’ve ever taken on. And one we’re so glad to not have to take on alone.