"My Princess Boy"
When 5-year-old Dyson wanted to be a princess for Halloween, his mother, Cheryl, initially resisted. She said she made several attempts to redirect Dyson to more masculine toys and clothing, but eventually changed her mind.
"At that moment I knew this was more my issue, and if [my older son] could be a ninja, why couldn't [Dyson] be a princess?" Cheryl asked in a newscast.
Now, the mother says she allows her son to explore his interest in all things pretty and pink, and has chronicled their experience in her latest children's book, My Princess Boy. Dr. Phil compliments Cheryl on the book. "You did a really good job," he says. "I thought this was a really age-appropriate way to communicate this message of acceptance."
"Thank you," Cheryl replies.
"So, tell me more about this decision you made to [let Dyson wear dresses]. He seemed this way from the beginning, right? Dr. Phil asks.
Cheryl nods. "At almost 2 years old he started displaying an interest in things that were pink and sparkly and pretty," she says.
"Why do you think he does this and the kid next to him doesn't?" Dr. Phil asks.
[AD]Having a son who's three years older than Dyson, Cheryl says she assumed she'd already know how to raise another boy, but Dyson inspired her to adjust her parenting style. When Dyson showed interest in dresses, she consulted psychologists on how to properly support him. "And their verdict was that I have a healthy, happy little boy, and that I shouldn't discourage or over encourage [his behavior]," Cheryl explains. "I just really wanted to be a sanctuary in the home, and support and love my child for who he really is."
From being the only adopted child in class to the overweight kid in gym, Cheryl explains that My Princess Boy aims to relate to all kids who are different. "Whether we're 2 years old or 92 years old, we all want to be accepted for who we are," Cheryl says.
"So where is he headed with this at 10, 12 or 15? What defined role do you think he'll choose?" Dr. Phil asks.
" I'm on this journey and process [with him]," Cheryl confides, explaining that she can't predict Dyson's behavior, but she plans to love him no matter which gender role he chooses.
Dr. Phil asks Cheryl if she considers Dyson's behavior feminine.
"I consider this to be an expression which we label as feminine behavior," Cheryl explains.
"That's my question because I look at this differently than a lot of people sometimes," Dr. Phil says. "To me, a G.I. Joe is only a boy toy because we've labeled it a boy toy, and pink is a girl color because [we've labeled it that way]."
[AD]Cheryl nods in agreement. "But now, you do realize there may be a point where he could stop this overnight? When he becomes socially aware of sexual and gender differences, he may just say, 'Well, I'm not comfortable doing that anymore, that's for girls.'" Dr. Phil explains.
"He may," Cheryl replies. "And we will accept him either way; that's part of the journey."
"Now, I fully support you [encouraging] your son to do what makes him feel right and natural, as long as it's not at his expense or putting him in harm's way," Dr. Phil tells Cheryl. "I want to keep this issue in the American consciousness. We've done a lot of shows on bullying and the most intense bullying that we see in our society is aimed at people with a difference " whether they're ethnic or lesbian, gay-questioning youth, or have a handicap of some sort. You say, 'Difference equals discomfort, so people attack that.'"
"That's right," Cheryl says.
"So we've devoted a lot of our platform to just saying, 'Let's not do that.' We need to teach our kids that difference is okay, and let's be inclusive."
Pointing to a copy of My Princess Boy, Cheryl notes, "That's why the questions and the tools in this book say, 'Here's a tool to start a conversation.Will you like me for who I am?'"
"Yes, and I told my producers the other day that you should make your book a series, and it shouldn't just be about this [one issue] " it should be about all differences. I think it'd be a great series to put into schools to teach kids in an age-appropriate way about acceptance and inclusion."
"I appreciate that. Thank you." Cheryl replies.
"I support you 100 percent," Dr. Phil says.