I’m sure most of you did not know that June 26, 2014 was Forgiveness Day. It wasn’t recorded on your Smartphone, discussed in church or advertised as a Hallmark moment. The day went unnoticed.
Guilty Thoughts Plague
You have to sin in order to be forgiven. Many straight parents when their children come out, feel as if they are to blame. Along with a tempest of other typical reactions such as denial, fear, shame, loss, anger, guilty thoughts can plague a parent:
· If I were a good parent, he/she would have confided in me sooner.
· I must have done something wrong as a parent.
· I must have caused this.
Truth is you have done nothing to cause his/her sexual orientation. As Lady Gaga sings, you’re” Born This Way” (or so many think who are polled about the reasons for homosexuality).
You can not force your child into therapy to “straighten” him out. In fact, this sexual reorientation therapy so-called “conversion therapy” has been outlawed in California and New Jersey and according to the American Psychological Association has resulted in increased despair, guilt, shame on the LGBTQ individuals who attend the conversion camps. Nor is there evidence to suggest that early abuse causes homosexuality.
Although you, like most parents, probably have unconscious expectations for your child, your child is really not an extension of you. In the fullness of time, you will let go and let your child be someone you didn’t envision him to be.
Guilt Works Both Ways
Similarly, your child, particularly in the early stages of his self-discovery, may feel guilty about his orientation. He/she may internalize society’s homophobia and feel guilty that he may not be attracted to the opposite sex. He also may know he is disappointing you because he is not leading a life expected of him; consequently causing him despair and shame.
Both parent and child feel guilty about a life that is not chosen, but simply given. The role of the parent is to help your child become whole and authentic and the role of the child is to develop into that being.
You didn’t cause hisgayness nor did he cause your guilty thoughts. Both of you should be absolved of your self-shaming notions that don’t require forgiveness for you’re never sinned.
When Your Child Is Gay: What You Need To Know
For more detailed advice, see book, co-authored with a mother of a gay son and a psychiatrist, Jonathan L. Tobkes, M.D.