Raising My Rainbow was a refreshing new look at parenting. It is an exploration into what happens when our child does not meet our expectations. When our child does not clearly fit neatly into one box.
The book does a wonderful job of walking readers through the day-to-day struggles of raising a gender non-conforming child. In each situation you get to see Lori and her husband go through the process of surprise, questioning and exploring, reaching out, and problem-solving. The way they do this is always child-centered. They never fall into the trap of telling their child, C.J., what to do or who to be, but instead create a safe environment for their child to explore his own identity.
What was also nice to see was Lori stepping foot into how the parenting adjustments have affected her relationship with her husband. Also, how she had to take in special considerations for how C.J.’s gender expression may be affecting his older brother and how Lori tried to mediate these dynamics. You get to follow Lori as she struggles with teachers and school systems as well as when and where she finds allies.
Lori’s journey is incredibly validating for any parents who want to raise their children in an environment where the child sets the pace. These may run contrary to many more traditional approaches to raising children. It’s important to know this going in to this book so that you can actively open yourself up to being willing to see a new approach, if this parenting approach is novel to you.
In some ways, I do feel like everything was just a little too neat and tidy for me. Maybe it is my experience as a therapist that feels somewhat unsatisfied. Don’t get me wrong, I love the book and think every parent should read it to at least empathize with and follow the journey of another parent and their struggles. But, for a parent who is going through these struggles, who may be getting into fights with parents, friends, and other loved ones. For parents who find themselves deadlocked in conflict or going through the emotional roller-coaster of losing friends, it just falls a bit shallow. If Lori were to show the reader a little more of the messiness, the emotions, the grief, and the loss, it would have been much easier to feel like that process is normal. Uncomfortable as hell, but normal.
In all honesty, I have not read her blog. All of these aspects may very well be in there. But as a book, I would have liked to hear the points others made and how she refuted them. Where she felt stumped. Maybe even some of her frustrated feelings towards her son for being different. It all would have felt a little more real if these aspects had been present.
All in all, I felt like this was a good read. It was an easy read. And the nuggets of advice were hidden in the narrative, thus making them easy to digest. There was no parental mandates, just a “this is how we did it” approach. It is heart-warming to see a family overcome so much and the lengths Lori was able to go to support her sons, her marriage, her family, and even the LGBTQ+ community at large.