If you are a parent, let me first say I can’t even begin to imagine how you feel or what you are going through. Please weigh and consider my brief thoughts with the concern with which they are given. I strongly urge you to seek out additional information and support. This blog (and the resources section at the top of this page) is a helpful place to start.
In the previous post, I included a couple of statistics for the purpose of providing information and explaining (in part) why I am particularly passionate about the subject of SSA and the people it affects. However, a son who is “coming out” or is revealing his same-sex attractions is not likely to be persuaded with statistics, scientific arguments or Bible verses alone.
When your child announces his homosexual feelings (his struggles, confusion, or acceptance), try not to debate or get defensive. I have no doubt this is easier said than done. And yes, it is important that you make your stance on this issue known. Yet I am making the assumption that he already knows your position. You can respectfully make your point. But I would strongly encourage you to actively listen to him and seek to understand him first.
What I mean is defuse the situation by clarifying the deeper issues. Invest the time and make the effort to engage and understand him. . .
- His history
- His feelings
- His point of view
- His experiences
Ask him open-ended questions such as. . .
- How did he come to this conclusion after years of struggle?
- What was it like for him to hold onto a secret like this for so long?
- Why was he unable to talk about it until now?
- How has he felt around his peers and friends all this time?
- Are there any feelings about his parents that he hasn’t been able to express?
- (If applicable) What does he hope to find within the various subcultures of LGBT community?
Then actively listen to him . . .
- Restate and paraphrase what you hear him telling you.
- Let him clarify his thoughts.
- Listen for his feelings.
- Listen to his body language.
- Listen with your eyes and your posture.
- Give him the time and space to express himself.
- Don’t interrupt with counterarguments.
- Just allow him to finish.
Reassure him. Cry with him. Hold him. Comfort him. Accept him.
Accept him and love him as your son AND as an individual.
And maybe even harder, begin to accept that your child is attracted to individuals of the same gender. All this won’t happen overnight. It will be a difficult process.
By the way, coming to terms with your son’s sexual identity doesn’t mean you are embracing (or need to embrace) his behavior. Understanding others doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them but it is the best way to minister grace and love in a difficult time. He is still your son. Extend to him respect, encouragement, patience and compassion.
But Also Be Aware!
- Don’t turn the discussion into an interrogation!
- Be prepared if he does not want to talk.
- Don’t patronize.
- If you’re reading all this and sense you may become overwhelmed by the process or emotions, I would recommend that you get professional counsel before you engage your child.
This is not going to be easy for you, your child or your family. Having this emotionally charged conversation is painful enough. Adding to it this level of deliberate concentration, determination and openness will make it even more difficult. In my opinion, an attempt to understand (rather than debate) not only could help to calm and relax your child but also help to maintain relationships. Respond appropriately and keep an open mind.
All this may be a bit easy for me to say. But I did want to emphasize one key point – listen to him. Understand that my heartfelt words are based on (1) my own personal experience and (2) what other guys have shared with me – what they wanted and needed from their families at the time.
If I could request two types of responses to this article, they would be the perspective and experience of both the parent and the child. What can others and I learn from you?
If you are a parent (caregiver) and faced this type of situation, what helped in your situation? What didn’t help? What did you wish you knew then but didn’t know? What mistakes were made? What was done right? What would you suggest to other parents whom maybe experiencing a similar scenario?
If you are the child (son or daughter), what did you want to tell your parents? What did you want to hear from them? What did you want from them? What did you wish they knew? What went right? What went wrong? What would you share with other young people who are in a similar situation?
Your comments are welcomed below.
For those who wish to share, I thank you in advance. I will ask that God’s grace, blessing and comfort will be upon each of you.
Recommended links for further reading:
“Loving Your Gay Child” by Shawn Harrison (Six:11 Ministries)
“If Your Child Says I’m Gay” by Tim Wilkins (CrossWalk Ministries)
Speak With Other Christian Parents: National Parent List (The Marin Foundation)
“Resources, Videos and Links” Page (there is a section on this page for teens/young adults and their parents)
© Darrell Martin and SameSexAttractions.wordpress.com, 2012.
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