I'm not sure what inspired to me to set my DVR to record the
Jenner interview on ABC over the weekend. I don't watch reality shows, I'm not a fan of celebrity gossip, and I
haven't followed his story at all.
as I scrolled through the menu to find the show, my stomach flipped. Would he be OK during the interview? Would he be okay after? Will the media treat him with kindness and
respect from this day forward?
I don't know Bruce Jenner, and I can't pretend to know what
he's been through or what he's going through now, but I have worked with many
children and adolescents over the years, and I do know that people are not
What struck me most about the interview was not the
backstory (although that certainly helped fill in the gaps) but that he seemed
visibly relieved to finally tell
"For all intents and purposes, I am a woman," is the quote
that made the headlines, but it's not the one that stood out in my mind. At one point during the interview, Jenner
simply stated, "I'm me."
it. When I think about the kids I've
worked with, the people struggling with gender identity and mental health, the
people who feel like they don't have a place in this world, that quote is the
one that should stand out.
It's a simple concept at its core, and yet it can feel an impossible
feat for many.
It seemed like only moments after the interview aired that
articles started to make the rounds teaching parents how to talk to kids about
Bruce Jenner. What do we say? How do we make sense of this for our
children? I can't help but wonder: Is
that the most pressing issue here?
What if we didn't worry about how to explain this to our
children? What if, instead, we decided
to take a collective pause, consider the themes contained in the interview and
decided to learn something from Jenner, instead?
1. We all need
Jenner mentioned his reservations about sharing his story
with his family and loved ones. He
worried that he might hurt them in some way—that his decision to live his truth
might negatively impact them. His
children rallied around him. He's still
their dad, and they still love him.
We often talk about the importance of unconditional love
when raising children. Although parenting
can include ups and downs, it is essential for parents to love and support
their children along the way. This is
also true as people grow. Jenner needs
love and support from his family to work through any struggles he might face,
and they are ready to answer the call.
Support your loved ones. Love them always—they need it.
2. Kindness counts
At one point, ABC ran footage of a transgender high school girl
dropping to her knees and crying upon learning that her high school elected her
homecoming queen. It was a quick
snippet, but a powerful one.
It's time to live in a world where people embrace differences.
Kindness makes a difference in this world. A homecoming crown might seem like a small
gesture for some, but clearly it meant the world to that student.
Be kind. Teach and
encourage kindness. Lead with empathy. You can never truly know what another person
is up against, but you can choose to be kind.
Jenner spent the better part of his life on the run from his
true self. His marriages failed, he
wasn't always there for his children, and he struggled with his emotions as a
result. He lived in fear and he felt as
if the walls were constantly closing in on him.
We all deserve the right to live as our authentic selves
without fear of hatred from others. Instead of gossiping about how Jenner looks or what he'll wear from now
on, let's pause and think about how he feels, instead.
And let's remember that kindness always counts—in person, online and even in the media.