Busy Philipps Shared a Candid Look at Helping Her Child Deal With Bullying After Coming Out

"I told [Birdie] repeatedly that it would get better but then secretly thought myself, but WHAT IF IT DOESN'T?"

Busy Philipps is opening up about the pain of having a child who’s being bullied for their identity. On Monday, the actress shared a long Instagram caption about how hard it was “being strong for” her eldest child Birdie, 12, who is gay and nonbinary, during a rough patch.

“Look. I haven’t really talked a great deal about it because it’s not entirely my story to tell but all I have to say is this: when you have a child in crisis, being bullied for who they are or suffering in any way, you will do anything in your power to try to help them realize that IT GETS BETTER,” she wrote, alongside photos of herself and Birdie from a trip to London last year.

However, it’s a lot easier to say “it gets better,” than to actually believe it, Philipps explained. “What often we(as parents or caretakers or siblings) can’t see ourselves is that IT WILL,” she wrote. “I was so singularly focused on Birdie feeling better, doing better, that it was almost impossible to see it myself.”

Philipps explained that she took Birdie, who uses they/them pronouns, to London last year to meet their favorite YouTube stars, Daniel Howell and Phil Lester. “I shared what Birdie was going through and they agreed to meet us for tea if we ever happened to be in London,” she wrote. Even though “our friends in London were wonderful,” Philipps wrote, “our last night in London was possibly the darkest hour of my life.”

The Busy Tonight star says that she went out and walked around the city alone that night and broke down thinking about how hard it was to watch her kid struggle. “As I sobbed over a lamb biryani, I thought I don’t know if I can keep doing this… Being strong for my kid who I told repeatedly that it would get better but then secretly thought myself but WHAT IF IT DOESN’T?” she wrote. “There was no way to know.”

Philipps says her husband consoled her on the phone, encouraging her to hang in there and make it a few more hours until it was time to head back home. “And I thought I didn’t know how to even do that,” she wrote. “But we did it. I kept saying in my head, ‘it will get better.’ But here’s the thing. It didn’t get better- not right away. It actually got worse for a bit. But I hung in. Birdie hung in. We all hung in and I am here to tell you: It gets better.”

Philipps first spoke about her eldest child’s gender identity and sexual orientation publicly late last year on an episode of her Busy Philipps Is Doing Her Best podcast. “For those of you who are my friends listening at home, this is the first you’re hearing that Birdie is gay and out,” she said, explaining that Birdie told her at 10 years old.

She also confirmed that she got Birdie’s consent before sharing this news with the world, saying, “Bird was like, ‘I don’t give a fuck. You can talk about how I’m gay and out; you can talk about my pronouns. That would be cool with me. That’s great.'”

On the podcast episode, Philipps also recalled a moment when she found her 12-year-old “lying on the floor in the dark” listening to Harry Styles’ Fine Line album on repeat.

“I was like, ‘Are you alright? Do you want to talk about anything?’ And Birdie said, ‘It’s just I feel like I’m alive, but I’m not really living, you know? And I just want the living part to start,'” Philipps said.

After hearing this, Philipps said she “got really emotional” but then took the opportunity to offer some great motherly advice that, honestly, we all could use. “I said, ‘Well, first off, welcome to being my daughter, but I want to say this to you because I wish someone had said this to me: This is living, you can’t wait for it to start … You can’t think, if only I can get to X, I can start living,'” the actress continued. “I said to [Birdie], ‘The other thing I want to tell you that I wish I had known is: You get to build your life however the fuck you want to, and it doesn’t have to look like anything you’ve ever seen or anything that’s ever been modeled for you because maybe it doesn’t exist.’ “

She then added, “‘You get to choose what will make you feel fulfilled and happy. It doesn’t have to be any of these constructs that we’ve all been fed our whole lives. This is a different world that you get to fucking build.” And now we’re off to go print this monologue on a T-shirt and start living our lives to the fullest.

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