Understanding your homosexual child
Parenting a Homosexual child
Today another parent approached me concerning the possibility that her son is gay. She is experiencing a lot of emotions. She is having a tough time sorting out her emotions. This is a normal reaction. I realized during this conversation that many parents are still having a difficult time with the idea that their child is gay. I’m going to start with my own story and then get into the psychology of parenting a homosexual child.
My son was born 18 years ago and he was perfect. His first few years of life he developed normally both physically and emotionally. Around the age of two years old our son took an interest in things that would be considered by our culture as “girly”. He liked Barbies, he wanted long hair, and seemed to gravitate toward girls as friends. He wore a shirt on his head pretending his shirt was long hair. His favorite movie was the Broadway musical Cats, which he would act out in his pjs dancing with joy in our Living-room.
He was our youngest son and early on his brothers expressed concern over the dolls, fake hair, and the flamboyant behavior. I told all of them not to make a big deal out our son’s preferences; I didn’t want him labeled “Gay”. We treated our son just as we had his brothers, allowing him to pick toys he liked. When he was four our son came to me and told me he had a secret, I thought this was the beginning of a cute conversation about sneaking cookies. My son got very close to me with the shirt on his head and said “I want to be a girl”. I am going to admit that I kept his secret and I told him we would keep this between us for right now. This was uncharted territory for me. I knew he was too young to be worried about sexuality.
As our son got older he went through an awkward period that I feel like all kids go through to some extent. That phase turned into a moody beginning to his teen years. Every so often his brother would come to me with concerns over his behaviors. At fourteen our son had several friends that were coming out to their parents with very negative reactions. Our son went to his brother first about being gay. Although our son didn’t realize it, we had known all along that there was a good possibility he would be gay. The moody behavior was becoming more intense. Finally my son came to us one night right before we went to bed. He was visibly upset. He stood in our doorway and said “Mom, Dad I have something I need to tell you and it’s not good” , “I’m Gay”. I got out of bed went to the door, gave him a hug and said “we know sweetie, we love you. Please get the kitchen clean before you go to bed. Okay”. He stood there for a minute and then said “you knew?”. I said “yes, of course we did”. He was literally in shock, I think because we didn’t respond with anger. He expected us to react. After all we are a Christian family, shouldn’t I cry or freak out? But, the conversation was uneventful. We love our son.
Most of the parents of homosexual children have a hint way before the kid tells them that that child is gay. I was always very close to my son, I have known since he was little that he would be homosexual. Not all parents know, not because they are bad parents but, because it never occurs to those parents that their child might be gay. Many of these parents have never been parents before, and have no idea about typical behavior. This creates a surprise that a parent goes through. That shock creates a panic in the parent. Why?
- When a person has a child they have hopes and dreams for that child. We see this in parents who want their kids to become something specific in life (doctors , lawyers etc.) Finding out a child is gay ends the possibility of the parents dream. We give our children life and hope that they will be happy. Often we only want them to be happy in our way not in their own way. Gay people are just as happy as straight people. Most kids do not live the life their parents want, being gay doesn’t make that anymore true. Let your children have their own dreams.
- Parents think it’s their fault the child is gay. You cannot make someone gay any more than you can make someone straight. Regardless of male/female interaction a child’s sexuality is not environmentally determined.
- Fear for the child’s life. I live everyday with the fear that my son might get beat up, or killed because he is gay. Hate crimes happen and I have had to raise my son to be aware of his surroundings. If your child’s behaviors change be aware there could be a bullying issue.
- Parents worry about the health of their child in living a gay lifestyle. When someone says gay you almost automatically think AIDS. The fears are real and true for anyone engaged in unprotected sex. Homosexual men account for over half the new AIDS cases every year (Center for disease control 2007).
- Religious beliefs are not accepting of Homosexuals. Many parents are devastated by the idea that their child is not going to bee line into heaven. I would put to any Christian that there is no lesser sin, and we all sin. Let your child work that out with God on their own.
Now that you know why you feel how you feel, ask yourself if his is worth your relationship with your child? You could get mad, you could yell and scream and even demand conformity to your ideas. In the end you are going to push your child further away. Consider this “suicide is the leading cause of death for gay and lesbians in their teen years” (NIH, 2002). Some of these kids would rather die than disappoint a parent with the news of their sexuality. Christian raised children suffer with a self-hate because of the contradiction between beliefs and their knowledge about their own sexuality. What kids don’t realize is that ALL true Christians wrestle with inadequacies and sins in the same manner.
According to Marshal, Friedman, and Moore,(2008) members of the LGBT community are high risk for drug abuse. I believe the risk comes from self-hate that starts with a lack of acceptance in the home. Children are so impressionable and teenagers are children. We forget sometimes that teens are not ready to be left alone to navigate the world, they need guidance. If a pattern of drug use is set in adolescents, it could continue throughout life. Have meaningful conversations with your child. Ask your child what their dreams are for their future. Be understanding, listen.
No one wants to be a homosexual. In today’s world of open sexuality and experimentation, kids still do not want to be homosexuals. They don’t choose it, it is simply their sexuality, and the sooner you accept them as people, the sooner you can heal. Are there kids who experiment and move on? Yes, you can have a kid who is simply exploring sexual options and is not truly attracted to the same sex. That kid is going to be straight. How can you tell? You can’t. If your kid comes to you, all you can do is promote abstinence and healthy behaviors.
My son gave me some insight into the behavior of a homosexual child. He told me that homosexual children test their parents with atypical gender behaviors. Such as; a boy who wants to paint his nails, if the parent says “no that’s not a boy thing” the child is less likely to confide other thoughts and feelings. This is a great point because; if a parent is negative about the child’s wants or behavior then it affects the child’s self-image since the child already knows they are homosexual. As a family we passed these tests because we were always accepting of the things he liked.
It’s important to keep communication open between you and the child. Just because a child knows they are homosexual doesn’t mean they know everything about it. Your child should be comfortable coming to you or your spouse with questions. As close as I am to my son we still have to have clarifying statements to understand each other. Recently he developed an interest in becoming a nail tech. My opposition to it has to do with the chemicals they use in nail salons not an opposition to him doing that job. These conversations are important.
Does having a homosexual child change the rules of your home? I can tell you that it changed a few rules in my home, the first of which was no sleepovers and the bedroom door stays open when guests visit. Normally the teen years are full of sleep overs, late night hang outs and so on. When you have a homosexual teen, sleep overs are off the table for obvious reasons. I promote teens going together in groups; this has always made me feel better about my son’s safety. He has been blessed with a great group of supportive friends and family. Pornography is an issue with teens gay or straight, parental controls are up to you and should be consistent.
Finally, children should be taught that sexuality is not who we are. Too many people let their sexuality become their entire life or persona. Sexuality does not determine your entire life. I have stressed to my son that a personal life is a personal life. You don’t need a parade or a flag, just be a good person. I can tell you that he is a very well adjusted and outgoing. He doesn’t flaunt being gay and we do not treat it like a “special” condition. I expect just as much from him as my other sons. He does yard work, helps his dad with moving heavy furniture, and has chores. He is my son and that didn’t change.