Are you a parent of an adult child who recently disclosed their same-sex attraction?
This is for you!
You are probably in some stage of shock and have no idea how to respond to your child. You don’t want to under-react, overreact or panic!
I am going to give you my four most critical issues you need to respond to in order to respond EFFECTIVELY rather than reactively. Reacting is the normal response, but not effective in helping your child.
These four issues come from my fifteen years of working with parents as a therapist. I am calling them the “Big 4”. The Big 4 are issues every parent will respond to inevitability. After you absorb this content you will have the tools you need to respond well and create a foundation for change in your child.
Let’s get into the Big 4…
Control or Relationship
It is normal to limit your child, restrict them from relationships, and want to know where they are at all times. Do you want to set up surveillance of your child? What will people think if they know?
It’s a normal reaction; however, you will push your child away. They will hide, lie and distance themselves from you. This will leave you alone and in the end, you will have no influence on your child’s life.
The alternative is to continue to love them unconditionally. It doesn’t mean you are not concerned for them or you don’t care if they get AIDS, etc. Even with your discomfort, stay in the relationship just as you had prior to the disclosure. If your relationship changes it makes the statement to your child that you feel differently about them due to the disclosure. This will be perceived as judgment.
Fix or Understand
Fixing is learning about the problem in order to implement a solution to change your child. Parents pursue research with a passion to find the answers. While it is good to learn what causes these gender issues, the motivation to learn is in order to fix them. This is where using the Bible is dangerous. The scriptures are clear, however, your child is most likely well aware of God’s intentions regarding gender.
Pressuring your child with Bible verses will not help them at this stage. This is where being “correct” may not be effective. The only exception is that your child really doesn’t know what the scripture says and wants to know.
This brings us to the alternative which is to UNDERSTAND.
The opportunity is to LEARN AND UNDERSTAND what has been going on behind the scenes all these years for your child. Your child has been afraid to tell you about their struggle and now is your moment to hear them out. The only task here is to listen well without offering advice or insight. This is an opportunity to step into your child’s shoes and walk with them.
Fight or Accept
You will either fight or accept your Childs homosexuality / Transgenderism. Fighting it is to pressure him/her to reject their same-sex attraction. It also means shutting down the internet, screening their communications or limiting their access to questionable friends. What’s at risk for you is that if you allow your child to continue in their same-sex behaviors that you are approving or agreeing with their choices.
These actions may stop your child’s SSA behaviors for the moment. The result will be that your child will resent you and eventually they will find a way to continue the behaviors secretly.
Accepting your child’s homosexuality is not approving of it. To accept it is to realize they are stuck in it and have been for many more years prior to your discovery. This is not a condition that changes by thinking differently about it. It is deeply rooted in pain. At best we are accepting the child’s pain. You can maintain your values, morals and Biblical values and also maintain the quality of relationship with your child.
That said, at the same time accepting your Childs homosexuality doesn’t mean that you need to allow the fullness of its expression in your home if they live with you. It is healthy to establish your own boundary of exposure. For example, will you allow your child to have their partner in your home or to meet you? Consider what boundaries you need to stay in the relationship with your child.
Healing or Homosexuality
As you discover your child’s same-sex attraction you will most likely look into how that can change. But wait! This assumes that your child is interested in their own change. Let’s pull back on our assumptions of your child and inquire of them. This is where we want to LEARN AND UNDERSTAND your child’s gender struggle and step into their journey with them.
When many young people realize their feelings are same-sex attraction they often cry out to God to take them away. When He doesn’t act immediately on their request they concede to the voice that says they will always be homosexual. If your child took on this course it would be important to know that. Assuming can be dangerous. Take the time to hear your child talk about the stages they stepped through and learn to appreciate the painful events that led to same-sex attraction. It is only then that we can propose healing.
Stay in an unconditional loving RELATIONSHIP with your child, work to UNDERSTAND their journey, accept their dilemma and ACCEPT their choice for healing or homosexuality.
Your response to the “Big 4” will set the stage for a long-term relationship with your child that will create an environment of healing and wholeness in them.