You have a gay child. Lots of new issues and challenges and late-night conversations. Some don’t go so well. Sometimes you disagree. What do you do?
I have shared Jonathan’s story on my blog. Here he writes another good question about how to deal with two parents on somewhat different pages with their gay child.
Since Hunter has come out, my wife and I are very supportive but we are not on the same page. We are walking this out in different ways. I would like to know how moms and dads deal and have dealt emotionally and realistically with an LGBTQ child.
Sometimes we say things that surprise one another. This is such a process. For instance, I am allowing Hunter to go to the high school to hang out with some kids that are in my daughter’s classes. David, is a shy gay teen who has asked Hunter to play tennis with him and some girls. I tell Hunter yes because he needs to interact with other teens (he takes all his 8th grade classes online). I have told him that same rules apply to him as with sister when she was 13. Groups only and no PDA. My wife says she does not want to encourage it. I tell her that we can’t deny his feelings for another boy and that he clearly knows no boyfriend until 16. She agrees with that but feels that Hunter should not be with any gay teen now. I tell her that once he steps outside the house we won’t know who is gay and who is not. For me it does not matter. What matters is if they are good kids or not. David seems very nice. I am not pushing my son for a relationship but to get to know other gay teens who came out early to learn and to grow.
Another area is since we live near Orlando we go to the attractions a lot. We have had the rule that the kids can bring a friend from time to time. Hunter has never asked. He may ask to bring a friend when we go. I told her we shall see and not make a different rule because he is gay. We struggle with the idea of him inviting a gay teen. We ask ourselves whether we would have allowed our daughter to invite a boy. Once he is 16 it is not an issue. Anyway, I am of the opinion that as long as the boy is not a creep and respects my son then I am inclined to allow it. My wife does not want to encourage it. I eventually say my piece and drop it. It may be up to Hunter to speak up and tell us how he feels.
Hunter is very selective with his friends anyway. I generally don’t doubt his maturity in this area. I tell my wife that when he chooses a boyfriend it will be someone that we will love and accept as a family. She struggles with his sexuality but deep down sees that it is who he is. I am not condemning her. I do not have all the answers.
We play hypotheticals often. What about boyfriends and sex and marriage? Our view is that the boy better not be a creep or a jerk. Same rule that applies with my daughter’s boyfriend. Their boyfriends had better respect themselves, our kids and our rules, or hit the road. As for sex and marriage, Hunter is uncomfortable about these issues. We wait on those.
We have come a long way. It takes time to re-evaluate a belief system. I do not know always know who is right and who is wrong. We love Hunter and support him. Support takes time and understanding. He feels safe with us and is more at peace with who he is. He did finally tell his younger brother. His younger brother wanted to know if we knew because he did not believe Hunter. He told Hunter that he loves him just the same. I know he will have questions down the road but I made it clear that we support and love Hunter and other gay teens, and we do not allow terms like faggot and queer to be used, ever. These terms were not used anyway but I wanted to stress to my younger son to stand up with gay kids in school and not against them. He said that he would not put up with nor be friends with any kid who hated gays.
I have said a lot.
First, you are doing great! And you both are raising an amazing son!
Jonathan, what a beautiful journey God has called you on! You seem to be handling it with such love and peace (even though I know it’s hard at times), and you are totally right: it takes time to reevaluate a belief system. I think you are doing an amazing job. I appreciate your wife’s desire “not to encourage that,” but the danger is in subtly teaching him to distrust his sexuality. You are kind to encourage her that it is what it is. But how terribly difficult. I see what you mean about coming from different points of view.
You might really suggest your wife (re)read Linda Robertson’s story, as she and her husband Rob took the “high road,” as far as the church is concerned, but they (in her words) ended up teaching their son to hate his sexuality. This is something your wife wants to get a handle on personally before it gets into Hunter heart, if it hasn’t already.
I love that you would let a friend of Hunter join you for a fun day out, and so much better than denying that opportunity, which then either retards his social development, or sends him underground. I see the same thing in some parents of straight kids. They want to avoid any talk about sexuality, as though that will delay hormones in their kids.
As for it being a boy Hunter would bring instead of a girl, that’s just something your wife is going to have to own. Her issue is really between her and God; you just don’t want it spilling over into less-than-acceptance of this boy who is only being the way he was designed to be too – just like Hunter. Thank God your son is open with you and loving and in a good relationship. You don’t want to jeopardize that by communicating subtly that it’s not okay.
I don’t know if you saw “Prayers for Bobby,” but if not, I recommend it. It does not describe your family, not at all. But I think you would appreciate it.
The mother (Sigourney Weaver) cannot stand the thought of her son being gay. The father is more compassionate for the son, and he tries to reason with her – he knows it’s not about his lack of presence in their son’s life. But he does not really hold her off of the damage she is doing to Bobby. (I’m not blaming anybody in the story, or in real life.) It’s interesting that the old lies we were told about gayness coming from an overbearing mother and a passive father are played out in this movie. They did not cause the son’s gayness, but they drove him to destruction after he revealed his gayness, as the mother continues to harp away on him and the father does not sufficiently stop her.
Perhaps all of that is to say this: the marriage is extremely important. Of course it is. It came before the kids and it will remain (one always hopes!) after the kids go.
One of my gravest mistakes as a mom was to continue to course-correct children who were already stellar, already on a great path. It makes them doubt themselves, instills fear, and as my grown daughter finally told me, I was overbearing. Ugh! Not a good thing to be… and God used it to dismantle that fear and lack of trust in me. Who knew?
Best to you and your lovely family. If everyone just trusts God to be guiding, it will all be good, really good!
All the best,