Category Archives: Parenting and Teaching Tips
An EFT Video for Anxiety and Fear, During These Strange, Covid-19 Times, by Jennifer Angelina Petro
Jenn, the Fairy TransMother Reads Poems for Kids
Posted by Jennifer Angelina Petro on Tuesday, March 17, 2020
Reimagining Manhood, A Call to White Men With Healthy Masculinity Everywhere to Help Save Our Nation from White-toxic Masculinity, by Jennifer Angelina Petro
A Call to White Men With Healthy Masculinity Everywhere
to Help Save Our Nation from White-toxic Masculinity,
Jennifer Angelina Petro
Who commits acts of heinous domestic terrorism in the United States? White men steeped in toxic masculinity. It’s not people of color, it’s not immigrants, it’s not Muslims, it’s not transgender people. It’s white men steeped in toxic masculinity. It’s just a fact.
This is not a post about hatred of men. The vast majority, I believe, of men, do not believe or act in these evil ways. That’s why I distinguish between healthy masculinity and the toxic, cowardly, and yes–evil masculinity.
It’s the task, the charge, of all men with a healthy masculinity, a feminism of heart and mind, to actively, and openly work against the toxic masculinity that commits acts of terrible, and horrifying terrorism. In your everyday lives call out sexual harassment, misogyny, call out Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, the encouragement to build walls and cage immigrants, homophobia, transphobia. In a very real sense, you have tremendous white male privilege. It is largely in your hands to help effect brave and meaningful changes.
So, in any gathering of men that you’re involved in–any gathering of men–refuse to accept toxic masculinity. Encourage and educate other men in what it means to be a feminist in the truest sense of the word.
It is a traditional stereotype of men being protectors and defenders. I ask you to embrace those roles and help protect your non-white-marginalized brothers, sisters, and siblings. Speak out. Write to your newspapers promoting healthy masculinity, speak up in your groups, families–teach your sons to be defenders of the oppressed. Teach healthy masculinity. Teach your children how to use their white privilege to help the marginalized and those targeted with hate and violence; educate yourselves in ways you can be effective, brave, and powerful agents of positive changes, and then pass that learning on to other men. Speak up in your places of worship, jobs, schools, and family gatherings about healthy masculinity. And finally, it’s crucial to speak out for gun control. Another fact that cannot be denied is that the weapon used in the majority of gun-massacres is the A-15 assault rifles. These military weapons need to be removed from American society. So, yes, in addition to teaching about healthy masculinity, speak up for the banning of assault weapons.
And perhaps most of all—keep working on your own internalized homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, transphobia, Islamophobia, and misogyny. This is work for all of us to continue doing. However, the more men work on their shadows, their own inner insecurities, fears, ignorance, and self-hatred, the more the horrific projections toxic males throw onto people they hate. Support one another in these ongoing efforts. Listen to the marginalized and oppressed. Understand their basic humanity and the struggles they are experiencing. Be examples of powerful, meaningful, and enlightened change in your communities.
With all my heart–so much depends on you. It’s just the truth. The facts cannot be denied. The people who commit acts of evil violence are white, men steeped in toxic masculinity. Help change and help save our nation.
Planting Seeds for the LGBTQIA Community and its Allies, By Jennifer Angelina Petro
Planting Seeds for the LGBTQIA Community and its Allies
Jennifer Angelina Petro
“What does it feel like to be transgender?” the eight-year-old asked wearing a t-shirt that read: “One of a kind.”
“THAT is a great question,” I said, “thank you for asking it. For me, being transgender feels just normal. It’s me. It’s who I am. It’s awesome. When I realized who I really am it was the happiest moment of my life. It feels wonderful, and sometimes scary, and sometimes I struggle with learning more and more about what makes me feel more comfortable being myself.”
She listened with wide-eyes…wide with wonder.
“What does it feel like to be you?” I asked, “Wonderful-one-of-a-kind-you.”
“It feels good,” she said, “People laugh at my jokes, my friends like me. Do you want to hear a joke?”
“Lay it on me,” I said.
“What is the best time of the day for a clock?”
I was stumped. “Tell me,” I said, “I’m stumped.”
“Six-thirty,” she laughed, “It’s hands down the best time of the day.” And then she laughed again at her own joke.
“Grrroooooan,” I said, “I love it!” And then, of course, I told her one of my corny jokes.
Another child, probably around the same age as our budding comedienne, asked: “Are you a boy or a girl?”
“GREAT question,” I said, “Thank you for asking it. I am a girl. I am a woman. When I was born the doctors and my parents all thought I was a boy. I looked like what they thought a boy should look like. But then, as I got older, it just didn’t feel like I was a boy, and then, little by little, I realized I’m actually a woman.”
“But you have a deep voice,” he said.
“Yes, I do. I also shave. There are millions of ways to be a woman—and all of them perfectly wonderful. Some women, like me, could easily grow a beard. Some women HAVE a beard. Some women, like me, have deep voices. And I’m still a woman.”
“Cool,” he said, and I gave him a rainbow flag that said: “Love is Love,” on it.
A few minutes later, I asked an adult, “Hi, are you familiar with LGBTQ things?”
They looked embarrassed and then confessed, “I don’t even know what those letters stand for.”
“Want to learn? I asked.
And so, I explained what they mean, and then curtsied and said, “And I am a transgender woman.”
“Ooooooh,” she said, her voice modulating up and down as she prolonged her, “Oh.”
Throughout the evening I asked the same question to kids and adults and got a variety of answers. Several kids knew what the letters mean, while others didn’t. Some kids and parents said they knew lesbian people, gay people, trans people, and all of those kids and parents said it with complete every-day-ness, which, of course, it is.
One ten-year-old asked: “Is it normal to be transgender?”
After thanking him for the question I said: “Yes, it is. It’s normal to be gay, bi, lesbian, it’s normal to question—so, yes, it’s normal. Is it not as common to be transgender? Yes. But it’s normal,” and I handed him a flag.
One little boy entered the fair, holding his mother’s hand, and pulling her eagerly over to our table. He was probably seven. His mom told us, “He saw your table and was so happy. He says of himself, I’m not a boy, I’m not a girl—I’m me—Benjamin.” He proudly took a rainbow flag and explored our displays with eager eyes and a happy, validated heart.
I could go on and on with wonderful moments like these. Being at a diversity fair at a local public school–Glenside Elementary School, in Glenside, PA., was a complete joy. It was an honor to be asked. Glenside is a fairly conservative town, and the diversity fair has always featured tables with different countries, religions, foods, and so on. Never in their history have they had an LGBTQ+ table. We were a first. And yes, it was a nervous first. The organizers weren’t sure how we would be received. They figured none of the parents would be mean, but they thought it was possible some families wouldn’t take kindly that we were there. We worried parents would shepherd their children away from our table, but it turned out to be the complete opposite. Parents and children flocked to our table. It didn’t hurt that we were giving away cupcakes, Skittles, stickers, rainbow flags, parent and child resources, and so on. And they came—dozens and dozens—probably well over a hundred people—maybe closer to two hundred. And every family that came was happy we were there. They asked respectful questions, had supportive things to say, and took advantage of our free resources. It couldn’t have been a bigger success. We planted many, many seeds that night—for both allies and queer kids, who may or may not know they’re queer yet, or do know they are, but keep it a secret, to other kids who proudly know they are. We demonstrated that queer people are people—fun, smart, generous, kind people. We celebrated the LGBTQ+ community, and its allies.
We made many wonderful connections. We met someone who helps get homeless LGBTQ+ kids of the streets. We met another who helps place LGBTQ+ kids in foster care and get adopted. We met teachers and educators needing ideas and support for queer children in their classes. Networking is so key in helping the world work together to help queer kids.
We were invited by my friend Kate, who was organizing the event. She was inspired after she saw an episode of Liz Plank’s, Divided States of Women, which featured my church (Love in Action UCC) and myself.
Our table was stellar. We draped it with a large rainbow flag and a large trans flag. We had several poster-board-sized displays. One of them had queer people throughout history—past and present. We had a display for queer sports figures. We had a display for queer entertainers. We had one with queer comic book heroes (that board brought a lot of kids over to our table). We had another devoted to transgender people. Another devoted to simply loving yourself as you are—your bodies, your talents, your genders—a total celebration of loving ourselves. We also had a board for general Pride—with pictures of queer people of all kinds. As mentioned, we had a bunch of picture books about LGBTQ+ people and issues. We had a lot of parent resources for loving and accepting and parenting LGBTQ+ children.
I even brought my guitar and sang a few songs on the stage. I introduced myself as a transgender woman and watched proudly as the children sat on the steps of the stage and watched and listened and smiled. One little girl sat listening, smiling, and waving her “Love is Love,” rainbow flag as I sang. Parents formed a semi-circle behind them and also happily watched and listened.
And we planted many seeds.
Dear Readers, despite the current regime, the future is bright and in good hands. Changes are happening—positive changes. Our presence at this diversity fair even prompted the principal of the school, after informing the faculty we would be there, to introduce a new, school-wide policy: No more addressing the student body during assemblies, as “boys and girls,” no more greeting your classes with, “Good morning, boys and girls,” no more dividing groups by boy-girl. This type of change is huge for queer kids—those in and out or questioning. It shows one positive act for the LGBTQ+ community has far-reaching effects.
Join us. Encourage your schools to invite the queer community to attend your diversity festivals. Advocate for non-gendered bathrooms and non-gendered language in your schools. Encourage teachers to learn about queer issues, talk with your children and neighbors and friends. And if your child has a question for one of us, say, if we meet in the check-out line—let them ask. Don’t censor them because you worry we’ll be offended. Let them ask. Their questions are important, our answers are important, that you support your children asking questions is important. Plant seeds with us and watch as a garden of rainbows sprouts in the hearts and minds of people everywhere, watch as the culture continues to grow in simply seeing us as people who deserve equal rights like anyone else. Watch as your children continue to blossom as lights in the world.
When Mother’s Day Doesn’t Quite Fit, By Jennifer Angelina Petro
When Mother’s Day Doesn’t Quite Fit
Jennifer Angelina Petro
As I was reminded at church today, Mother’s Day may be hard for some people. Some, like me, have lost their mother’s–in my case, six years ago. And while I can still celebrate her life she isn’t physically present to go out to lunch with or something like that. Others never had a mother–in the sense of one being present in their lives. Others couldn’t have children and desperately wanted to. Others have lost their children to miscarriages or other tragedies. Still others have had mothers who were abusive or negligent. And still others have a strained relationship with their mothers, and some mothers have a strained relationship with their children.
There are also people like me–people who lived most of their parenting lives as “Dad.” I will always be Dad to my kids–I know I was a father to them and I am glad for that. I am also their mother. So, for me, Mother’s Day is very special. I get to parent in a whole new way and in the same ways I did before coming out. Luckily for me my kids are amazingly supportive and I have already received Mother’s Day greetings from them. However, I am also one of those people who has always (even before coming out as trans) ached to be able to have children—I was always deeply envious of pregnant mothers. I have always ached to be able to nurse a child. I have come to accept neither of these things will ever happen–and I am no less a mother. So, to all the non-binary “Moms” or people who act as mothers to others–regardless of their gender. Happy Parent’s Day to you.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the people out there who mother other people’s children—teachers, nurses, doctors, librarians. Blessings to all the foster moms and moms who have adopted children from around the world or their own communities.
And to all the grandmothers and aunts who have taken on the role of mother again because of special circumstances. Blessings to all the grandmothers who simply get to grandmother grandchildren, and do so with wisdom.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the single Dads who serve as mothers all day, everyday.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the people who have consciously chosen to not bear or raise children. I am willing to bet there is someone or something in your life that you mother, and do so with grace, dignity, and love–be that a pet, a plant, a poem, or a person.
And of course, Happy Mother’s Day to ourselves–no matter who we are–for we all, one day, must begin, and never stop, mothering ourselves. It is just the way that it is–we all become our own mother’s one day–giving birth over and over again to ourselves.
To wrap up I would like to lift up all those for whom Mother’s Day is a hard day. Your soul and spirits are Mothers. You have been mothered by the world. You are Mothers of the world.
And also grieve, or be angry. Seek safe support to be with you today as you move through any difficult or challenging feelings and memories.
You are loved. You are special. And you are held in the hands of Mother Gaia.
Thank you for your support. All donations go to medical expenses and groceries. <3
My First Father’s Day Being a Mom, by Jennifer Angelina Petro
My First Father’s Day Being a Mom
Jennifer Angelina Petro
My boys say they’re OK.
When I asked them how they felt about it being Father’s Day, they said they were OK. One asked if he still needed to get me something. Another said he worked double time on Mother’s Day making cards for two moms and now he appreciates the day off.
I have the best kids ever.
When I think of the times I held them as infants on my chest and sang to them, when I think of pulling them in wagons and pushing them in strollers—all the times carrying them in front packs, the fishing trips, the chasing after ice cream trucks, the making bread and chimichangas, all the times we drew together, all the stories I told at bedtime, all the snake hunts and ootheca searches (praying mantis nests), all the movies (watching Pirates of the Caribbean and the Harry Potter movies over and over and over), all the times playing catch or pitching to them, or the time I took them out of school (along with my students) to take them to see the Parade downtown when the Phillies won the World Series in 08; the teaching them to drive, the times sitting in Barnes and Noble drinking soda and looking at books, the teaching the few guitar chords I know, the screaming at the top of my lungs at Battle of the Bands, the being so proud when they won first place–It wasn’t a lie. All that daddying. All that fathering. It was real. Always will be. Nothing will ever change my having been their father. No matter what anyone says, nothing can ever take those memories away.
My kids can see him in the old photographs with his scruffy goatee, scruffy clothes, silly grin. They can see hear him in my voice and see him in my hands and face.
But I am Mom Number Two. Always was. It’s just none of us knew it until now.
My boys are my treasures.
I love them with all of my heart.
And not just because they support me as a transgender parent, not just because they have taken this whole journey so well, and with such class, love, and good humor; but because they are good and decent people, they are my flesh and blood. They are my kids. Nothing will ever change that. No matter what I look like. No matter what happens to this body. Nothing can ever take away twenty years of fathering.
Nothing will ever change that I love them to the moon and back. And always will.
A family photo at Ben’s graduation this June, 2016. He’s the middle one, with Sam to his right, and Daniel to his left–and then Mandy, Mom Number One, and then me, Jennifer, Mom Number Two.
Write From Your Love: the Art of Writing Birthday Verses and Poems for Children
Write From Your Love:
the Art of Writing Birthday Verses and Poems for Children
By Joseph Anthony
There is a
tradition in some Waldorf Schools for class teachers to write “birthday verses”
for their students—poems in honor of their students’ birthdays. Some teachers write a new one for their
students every year (in Waldorf Schools teachers travel up through the grades
with the same group of students); other teachers select a passage from one of
their favorite poets and suit it to their particular students (that’s also a
good way to introduce students to wonderful poets they might not otherwise know
of). Some teachers have their students
memorize their birthday verse and recite it to the class; others simply give
the poems as gifts.
written hundreds of poems for children over my 17 years teaching thus far. Birthday poems, graduation poems,
students-leaving poems, etc. It’s one of
the funnest parts of my vocation actually.
Not only do their birthdays and other milestones afford me opportunities
to write poetry, I love writing poems that I know will mean something to them
in that moment and hopefully, for years to come. Today I am offering a small selection
of some recent poems I wrote for my first graders.
Now some of
you might be thinking, “I can’t write poems.”
To that I say: Yes you can. You
can write poems or stories, you can sing, you can draw, you can dance. You can do anything you want to. Leave go the old, limiting voices. It doesn’t matter if the poem rhymes. The only thing that matters is that you think
about, pray for, and imagine the child you’re writing for; write from your love
for that child; write from your hopes for that child; what you would love to
see that child do, become, or be; write what you would love to say to that
child—words they will treasure (imagine words you would have loved to hear from
someone that meant something to you and then write those). Envision that child in the light and write
that vision, write FROM that vision. Write
to heal, write to instruct and guide, write to entertain, write to enlighten. You
can write with themes from the curriculum, from nature, from your own
relationship with your students. There is no right or wrong. Write from the heart. Most of all have fun.
said, here are a few poems for young children. In another post I’ll share ones
I wrote for teenagers.
Poems for First Graders
fledgling owl looked into the night,
that it was filled with light,
like silence born with wings,
the heart of everything.
how to laugh and she knew how to care,
blessed the evening air,
dreaming through the woods,
it her mission to share the good.
with the wind, my heart is free and strong.
with the forest creatures, joining them in song.
paths of dappled wonder, breathing in the light,
peaceful in myself, my thinking clear and bright.
the oak to the seed, “Dear one, dear star,
this truth: you are loved as you are,
shine and you thrive, perfectly you,
easy in knowing this wonderful truth.”
between running and dancing,
rabbit stopped to talk with the sun,
learned to breathe, and that all was well,
then he played until the day was done.
are taken care of,” said the earth to the seed,
have all of the warmth and light you will need,
comes from the world and it comes from your heart,
easy in knowing this right from the start.
will blossom and grow so please do not worry,
be who are and try not to hurry.
are held dear one in the arms of the Light,
rest now and dream through the long winter night.”
Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog
On the Value of Making Mistakes, A Little Poem to Help Overcome Perfectionism
Value of Making Mistakes
Child Blog Readers,
is a little poem I originally wrote 16 years ago for one of my first grade
students who would cry every time she made a mistake in her drawing books. Since that time I have taught it to every
student I have taught—from first grade through 8th. Whenever one of my students says, “Oh, no, I
messed up,” I say, “Spilled milk is a mess, my dear, you just made a
mistake.” And then I start reciting this
what age you are, if you have trouble accepting yourself for making mistakes,
if you think you have to be perfect in everything you do, if you don’t allow
yourself the freedom and dignity to make mistakes, this poem is for you. Memorize it, post it wherever it might help
you or someone else you love to remember that it is not only OK to make
mistakes, it’s part of the journey, it means you’re up and doing, taking
So have fun,
make mistakes, and remember your wonderfulness when you do.
and Queens can never grow,
mistakes to use as guides,
help us know the way to go,
gold within their heart resides.
Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog
I Am a Star: A Creative Visualization for Children of All Ages
I Am a
wrote this for my first graders but it can easily be applied to any age
children—even grown-ups. It was
originally written as a song, which you’ll see (hear) in a minute. I am presenting the visualization here as if you
are going to do it. That way, you can
get to know it before you share it with any children in your care. Once you have learned it and want to share it
with say, children aged 5-7, you can dovetail it with a little arithmetic study
and look at the number 5 as a living thing—it’s a star (pentagon),
and it lives
in the center of an apple cut in half width-wise,
and in the form of a human
being with their arms and legs outstretched.
the visualization is short yet profound, especially for those children already
carrying the idea that they aren’t good enough, or that they’re bad, stupid, or
dumb. This little visualization, when done
regularly, will help such children (and all children) touch their innate
goodness and light.
You can do
this visualization anywhere and anytime you need to feel yourself filled with
video beginning at 4:13 so you can learn the song. Let yourself sing it and freely move the gestures
(or make up your own). Young children
especially learn with their whole body, so definitely encourage them to do the
gestures, and you can do that best by doing the gestures first and then with
The words to
the song are as follows:
star with a Light in my body,
I am a
star with a Light in my mind,
I am a
star with a Light in my heart,
my Light all of the time.
for myself and I shine for you,
shine my Light in all that I think, say, and do.
a comfy place to sit or stand.
in slowly and deeply
that breath a second or two.
slowly let that breath go.
that 3 or 4 times.
look inside your mind.
the star that lives in you.
has a star living in them.
your star. See your star.
your star shining within you.
there, just behind your eyes,
there in your mind.
can feel it
in your heart.
with your star.
its Light shine in you.
your star shine
your star shine
your star shine
the words you speak.
your star shine
all that you do.
is always with you.
star IS you.
be in silence for a few moments
your star shining within you.
open your eyes.
that you shine.
As you go
through the day with the young children (or yourself) you’ve shared this visualization
with, you can point out times when they share star-thoughts, star-actions, and star-words. Praise your children as they shine. Praise yourself as you shine.
and keep shining. J
little light of mine….”
Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog