My daughter was lonely at school and it broke my heart. She is now 15 but in a time span of over four years from when she was 5 to the age of about of 9 years old she was a lonely little soul at school. They were horrible years and I was reminded of them today when I read this letter in The Guardian. When your child starts school you imagine their years ahead to be filled with being invited to birthdays, sleep overs and Easter bonnet making activities at someone’s home. Instead, it didn’t quite work out like that. 

For the first two years of her school life we invited all the children in her class over for birthday and Easter parties. In the third year we stopped doing this because I was forced to confront the reality that a self-imposed elite group of mothers had become firm friends and their daughters had followed likewise. This group quickly became the one that dictated their children’s friendships and out of school activities. My daughter was excluded. I lose count of the number of times that my daughter would come out of school with a smiling face then cry when we were out of sight because some party invitation had been handed out and she was in the minority group who did not receive one. 

I spoke to the teachers who assured me that she was happy in class and doing well. My daughter wanted more and it was the parents who pulled the strings on that one. You may be wondering whether it was something my daughter did that put them off? The reality is that sometimes there is no fault on the victim’s side. Remember the time when you were at school and you were ignored for no apparent reason? If you weren’t then you are one of the lucky ones. A whole Hollywood industry has flourished based on the experiences of girls who were treated badly – Carrie, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and Muriel’s Wedding. 

Muriel's Wedding (1994) Poster

The mother who has written in The Guardian today is distraught at seeing her daughter’s unhappiness. I don’t blame her. The ups and downs of your child’s life become your mantle as a mother. You wear their unhappiness especially when they are still dependent on you emotionally. It is heartbreaking that this child (referred to in the letter) does not laugh anymore or joke or sing or be silly. Her childhood is being taken from her by spitefulness. 

I have come across numerous other parents who are witnessing their children going through the same experiences. My advice is to be there for your child and never to belittle their sadness. However, be watchful for signs of your child being bullied. There is a fine line between a child being excluded from child’s play and bullying. If it’s the latter than take action by forcing the school to step up to their responsibilities. 

I am living a mothering conundrum. Towards the end of 2014 I started pondering on how and what aspects of mothering I ought to change to accommodate a teenager who suffers from mood swings and slides along a scale of disliking and loving her mum every few minutes. It was doing my head in and I was looking forward to the distraction of Xmas and New Year. Even an adoring mum can only take so much.

So it began that I started analysing situations, words and gestures to work out in minute detail what the trigger points were for discord and what the tipping points were for unhappiness. I hadn’t got very far because preparing for Xmas, as you know, takes up so much time and energy. However, in hindsight it was just as well that I hadn’t reached any conclusions or a plan of action because, to my surprise, my teen spent the Xmas and New Year period seeking out my company and praising me whenever an occasion for a slight against mum arose.

As a result I am no wiser in 2015 than I was in 2014. I am going to put my head down and live the mantra ‘to go with the flow’. Calm and humour will be my armoury in defusing ‘hot headed’ situations and we’ll see how long I can keep up with that too! Happy New Year to mothers everywhere.

Have you made any mother resolutions yourself?

The devout Christian mother of a transgender teenager who took her own life is refusing to acknowledge her child’s gender identity. 

Carla Alcorn, from Cincinnati, Ohio, repeatedly referred to her daughter as a boy in an interview with CNN, saying that “we don’t support that, religiously”.

Leelah Alcorn, who was born with the name Joshua, walked in front of an oncoming truck and was crushed to death on Sunday morning.

Leelah Alcorn in a photo she posted on her Tumblr pageLeelah Alcorn in a photo she posted on her Tumblr page

She left behind a suicide note on her Tumblr blog, in which she said she had been forced by parents to undergo conversion therapy, which seeks to change sexual orientation through counselling. The practice has been banned in two states on grounds it is medically unfounded and puts children in danger.

Her mother told CNN: “We don’t support that, religiously. But we told him that we loved him unconditionally. We loved him no matter what. I loved my son. People need to know that I loved him. He was a good kid, a good boy.”

Following her daughter’s death, Mrs Alcorn wrote a Facebook post, which has since been deleted, in tribute to her “sweet son”. Screen shots of the post show that it said: “My sweet 16-year-old son, Joshua Ryan Alcorn, went home to heaven this morning, He was out for an early morning walk and was hit by a truck. Thanks you for the messages and kindness and concern you have sent our way. Please continue to keep us in your prayers.”

Carla AlcornCarla Alcorn

The seeming ignorance of her daughter’s situation came despite the fact Leelah had left a message condemning her parents’ behaviour. In a separate post on her blog, posted after the suicide note, Leelah wrote: “Mom and dad: F**k you. You can’t just control other people like that. That’s messed up.”

This was accompanied by messages of love towards her siblings.

However, Mrs Alcorn claimed that her daughter was depressed and had never told her how she was really feeling. “He just quit talking about it (being transgender),” she said, adding that she had never heard the name Leelah.

But she did say her daughter had asked her for permission to undergo transition surgery. Mrs Alcorn said she had refused for financial reasons.

She added that she was concerned by the backlash against her and her husband, which had rendered the couple too frightened to hold a memorial service for their child.

A number of vigils are to be held around Cincinnati in memory of Leelah. Meanwhile a Facebook group called Justice for Leelah Alcorn has garnered over 27,000 likes and a petition to have Leelah written on her tombstone has amassed over 65,000 signatures.

Transgender teenager Leelah AlcornTransgender teenager Leelah Alcorn

In her suicide note Alcorn said she had felt “like a girl trapped in a boy’s body” since the age of four and had “cried of happiness” when she first came across the term transgender.

But she said she began to feel hopeless after realising her parents “would never come around” and allow her to transition.

“The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights,” she wrote.

“Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s f**ked up’ and fix it. Fix society.”