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  • Writer's pictureAaron Braxton

Unlocking the Butterfly Within: A Journey of Transformation for Your Children

Grab your favorite cup of tea or coffee, settle into a comfortable chair, and let’s have a heart-to-heart about something beautiful and transformative. No, I’m not talking about your favorite pair of yoga pants that can stretch to infinity and beyond or mastering the perfect barbeque brisket. I’m talking about diving into a metaphor that's as timeless as it is inspirational: caterpillars turning into butterflies. But this isn’t just a nature lesson—it's a story of children, especially kids of color, discovering their own greatness within.

The Caterpillar Stage: Wiggly, Wobbly, and Full of Potential

Picture this: your little ones, wiggling around with curiosity, sometimes clumsily navigating the world. They’re like caterpillars, right? So much potential wrapped up in those tiny, determined little bodies. As they crawl through life, encountering challenges and obstacles, much like the leaves and twigs a caterpillar navigates.

Let’s be real, though. There are days when kids’ caterpillar phase involves more wiggling in the living room than wiggling through life’s metaphorical foliage. Those moments when their energy seems endless and your patience feels paper-thin? Yeah, those are the days when you have to remind yourselves that every caterpillar has a future filled with wings.

The Chrysalis Phase: The Cocoon of Growth

Ah, the chrysalis phase. This is where the magic happens; though it often looks like nothing is happening at all. Your kids, especially those facing the added layers of identity and race, might withdraw into themselves, forming their own protective cocoons. This is a time for growth, reflection, and sometimes, a little bit of struggle.

Remember those times when your child has come home from school, faced with a world that doesn’t always understand or value their unique beauty? They’re in their chrysalis. They’re taking the hurtful comments, the confusing looks, and they’re doing the hard work of transforming those experiences into something powerfully beautiful.

It’s not always easy to watch. It can be painful knowing your babies are dealing with issues that you wish you could shield them from. But just as the caterpillar needs the chrysalis to become a butterfly, your children need this time to build resilience and strength. It’s during this phase that they learn who they are and begin to understand the depth of their own potential.

The Butterfly Emerges: Unveiling Their Greatness

And then, one day, before you know it, often when you least expect it, they begin to gradually emerge and show their true colors and all their vibrancy. It’s a gradual process, this becoming a butterfly, but how magnificent those colors can be!

For kids of color, this transformation is particularly profound. It’s the moment they embrace their heritage, their identity, and realize that their differences are their strengths. It’s seeing your child stand tall in the face of adversity, knowing that they are beautiful, capable, and powerful. It’s them learning to spread their wings and fly, not despite their challenges, but because of them.

Supporting the Transformation: The Mother’s Role

Now, let’s talk about you, the ever-present, ever-loving, ever lioness, ever- caffeinated moms…and dads! What can you do to support your little caterpillars through their journey?

Encourage Curiosity and Exploration:

Caterpillars need to explore their environment to grow, and so do kids. Encourage their interests, no matter how quirky. Today it’s dinosaurs, tomorrow it might be bugs, worms, or astronomy. Who knows, they might be the next Mae Jemison, Ron McNair, Bill Nye, Edward James Olmos, Catherine Johnson, or Lily Gladstone.

Create a Safe Cocoon:

Home should be their safe space. A place where they can retreat, reflect, and feel unconditionally loved. When the world gets tough, and it sometimes will, home  needs to be that soft place they can feel free to land. Like a chrysalis; a place where they can be still, gather strength and, if need be, regroup.

Celebrate Their Heritage:

Teach them to take pride in their roots. Share stories of ancestors, celebrate cultural traditions, and surround them with positive role models. They need to see that a legacy of greatness runs through their veins.

Foster Resilience:

Life’s challenges are inevitable. Teach them to face difficulties head-on and to see setbacks as setups for comebacks. Remind them that every butterfly struggles to break free of their chrysalis; it’s that struggle that strengthens their wings. It’s that struggle allows them to fly.

Be Patient and Present:

Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient, even on those days when their “chrysalis," looks like a pig’s sty and their “wings” look more like tantrums. Be present and listen. They will indicate what they need, even without articulation.

The Joy of Watching Them Fly

There’s nothing quite like the moment when your child realizes their own potential. Watching them soar, knowing that they’ve embraced their identity and their dreams—it’s the ultimate reward. And let’s not forget, butterflies are not just beautiful; they’re critical to humanity because they’re essential pollinators, spreading beauty, change, and growth, wherever they go.

Children, like butterflies, have the power to make the world a better place. Parents get the front-row seat to this incredible transformation. Yes, it’s filled with moments of doubt, exhaustion, and the occasional “Did I really sign up for this?” But it’s also filled with joy, pride, and the deep satisfaction of knowing that you are helping to raise the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and dreamers.

A Final Thought: Embrace Your Inner Butterfly

Take a moment to reflect on your own transformations. You, too, are constantly evolving. Every challenge you face, every triumph you achieve, adds a new color to your wings.

You are not just raising butterflies; You are butterflies yourselves; continuously learning, growing, and becoming masters of your own metamorphosis. The major difference is, butterflies never return to tell caterpillars about their amazing transformations. And caterpillars never look up at those amazing winged beauties and intrinsically know, that’s what they’ll become. To them, it's about faith. With you, it’s about knowledge.

You can see the potential, the breathtaking butterfly hidden within. You can guide and support their journey, sharing the knowledge of what they can become.

So, here’s to all of you—your children and yourselves. May you all embrace your journey, spread your wings, and fly with confidence and grace. And may you always remember; that the magic hidden within every caterpillar, is a beautiful butterfly waiting to emerge.

Aaron Braxton, a multi-hyphenated artist based in Los Angeles, has roots in Roxbury, MA and Santa Rosa, CA. A SDSU graduate with a Master's from USC, he transitioned from a career in education to become a multi-award-winning screenwriter, actor, and author. His best-selling children's novel, Jesse and the Caterpillar Who Got Its Wings, has captured the hearts of readers everywhere. Discover his incredible journey at:


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