For this chapter, we have asked others who have parented children with DSDs to write brief letters about their experiences and what they have learned. These appear in the first half of the chapter. This small number of letters can’t possibly capture the wide variety of experiences that parents have, but we hope you’ll find some comfort, sympathy, and ideas in these letters. We also hope you’ll think about using these letters as a model of how you can write about your own experiences as you parent your child. (See Chapter 5 HELPFUL HANDOUTS for suggestions about how to keep a journal of your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences.) You can save those writings and may want to eventually give them to your child so he or she can understand how you were feeling and thinking at different stages of his or her life. It may also help your child understand the decisions you made along the way. It can really help your parent-child relationship to have your child understand your decisions and the tough position you were sometimes in.

The second half of this chapter includes memories and thoughts from adults with DSDs. When we first asked adults to write for this, we asked them “What do you wish your parents had known?” We were thinking that might help tell you important information. As a result, many of the letters here contain regrets. We don’t mean to make you think your child will grow up with lots of regrets! We’re hoping, instead, that these people’s experiences will help you know more about what went wrong in the past. Some of what these adults with DSDs have written is hard to read. For example, several of them talk about how their parents hurt them. In fact, one of them (Cindy Stone) writes about how her father sexually abused her. We’ve included that material because we think it’s important for you to know that, like other children, children with DSDs are sometimes abused, especially when they are low on self-esteem, vulnerable, or raised in atmosphere where they’re not allowed to talk about sexuality and how they’re feeling. Please read these when you’re feeling relatively strong and well.

The bottom line: Don’t let any of these letters simply tell you what to do, or who to be. But do think about what they have to say that might help you be a good and well parent to your child.

Collin Stoll, Molly Strattan and family