Parenting

Mum’s wholesome TikTok videos are a masterclass in parenting LGBTQ+ and neurodiverse kids

Maggie Baska May 8, 2022
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A photo of The McLeod Family consisting of mum Eeka McLeod and her three children Ella, Evan and Eli smiling at the camera or up at her

The McLeod Family is sharing their triumphant moment and day-to-day struggles on social media to "validate and normalise the lives of families like ours". (Ashly Nicole)

One family is ‘validating and normalising’ the power of affirming parenting to LGBT+ and kids living within disabilities through heartfelt TikTok videos.

The self-described “family of misfits” is comprised of mum Eeka McLeod and her three wonderful children Evan, Eli and Ella. Eli has cerebral palsy, and Evan and Ella are on the autism spectrum. 

The McLeod family’s social media channels share a glimpse at unapologetically earnest moments in their daily lives as well as the happy moments that showcase the family’s loving dynamics. 

In one TikTok video, McLeod shakes her head as she decries the people who told my daughter “that liking dresses is just a phase”. Just seconds later, Evan proudly struts in wearing a gorgeous pink, tulle-filled dress with sequins as the text explains that it’s been three years since she has fallen in love with her first dress. 

@themcleodfam

So many ppl in their feelings over a happy child wearing fabric 🙄

♬ original sound – Eeka

Another video shows McLeod discussing with Ella the importance of respecting the gender identity of others after Evan was upset that her sister misgendered him. Ella admits that she was wrong and affirms that Evan is a “girlboy” – a term Evan, who is non-binary, uses to identify herself. 

“Watch how quickly she comprehends and chooses to respect Evan’s identity,” the text on the screen reads as Ella gets high fives from her mum. 

“If only everyone could be this excited about accepting others for who they are.”

@themcleodfam

Way to go, Ella! So proud of the person you’re becoming 🥲

♬ You Found Me – Instrumental Pop Songs

It’s this brand of wholesome but very realistic content that has garnered the McLeod family more than 2.5 million followers on TikTok with hundreds of thousands more followers across their YouTube and Instagram pages. 

The family has garnered widespread media attention and some high-profile LGBT+ celebs as fans. They have frequently appeared in videos alongside JoJo Siwa, and Evan even got to show off her stellar fashion sense to beloved TikTok sensation The Old Gays in a heart-meltingly cute video

McLeod – who identifies as queer, asexual and bi-romantic – tells PinkNews it has been “very uplifting” to see the positive reception to the family’s videos on social media. She says it’s not only been the ability to share “Evan’s journey” but also “my journey as a parent in an attempt to support him”. 

“I think people have this idea that somehow that I know what I’m doing or that I’ve got this all together,” McLeod says. “I’m like, ‘No, Evan’s taking the lead on it.’”

She describes how she has learned to “just roll with it” because “something new emerges” every day as Evan explores her identity. McLeod admits that she has “no idea” where the journey will take the family and jokes that she would be “making a lot more money” if she “had a crystal ball” that could predict their future. 

“People want me to somehow know all and see all, and I just want my child to be happy and thriving and healthy,” McLeod says. “It’s cool to watch, and it’s just a privilege to be a part of his journey.”

She says all three of her adopted children are “living their best lives” as they are all “very well-loved”. She tells PinkNews that she is doing her best to “validate and normalise the lives of families like ours” who have “previously felt they needed to stay hidden” or faced “severe criticism and judgement”. 

“There’s such a lack of education and knowledge of families like ours – children like mine – and the dynamic that occurs there,” McLeod says. 

 She describes how some people on TikTok believe that her “kids are never told ‘no'” or that she’s a “New Age parent who just lets their kids do whatever they want”. 

“It’s funny because people that have met me think I’m the mean mom because I have to be very, very, very firm,” McLeod explains. “People don’t understand that because their mentality comes from raising children that are neurotypical.”

She continues: “They don’t understand the way you speak, the way you use your body language – everything that goes into connecting with children like mine is completely different.” 

McLeod hopes that people “take something good” from the family’s videos to help broaden that individual’s understanding of disabilities. 

“They need the opportunities afforded to them that are not typically afforded to them – that is only afforded to neurotypical individuals,” McLeod says. 

“My goal with my kids is to let them experience everything, even if that means allowing that is gonna be extra challenging for us.”

McLeod tells PinkNews that raising three kids with different needs as a single parent is very stressful, and she looks for the “small joyful moments in each day”. She says that’s where many of their videos come from. 

“What you’re witnessing is the moments that I’m trying hard to hold onto because that moment was good,” she says. “My mantra with social media has been to post what brings me joy.”

She adds that the videos immortalise “those memories” in a way that she can look back on them “even on the hardest days”. 

 

More: autism, cerebral palsy, tiktok

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