by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director
“So should I push my son towards women now?” That’s a question I often get from fathers of young men who are struggling with same gender attractions. Dads are often devastated by the discovery of their son’s homosexuality. But the answer to their son’s struggle is not to push him into the arms of a woman. In fact, such a move could actually do more damage than good.
But what should a dad do for his son? In a word: connect! I realize when saying that many dads might think, “I am connected to my son. He’s my son. I’ve been around him since birth. We are fine.” But the fact is that simply being present doesn’t mean you have any kind of emotional, intimate, connection with your son. He is a sensitive guy who needs to be spoken to in a language he can hear and understand. Proclamations of facts do little to move his heart. He wants words dripping with raw emotion and heart-felt passion. He wants to know you, intimately, and feel the weight of your passion for him. In many ways, he wants you to look him straight in his eyes and tell him how much you love him, how proud you are of him, and how you think he has what it takes to compete in the world of men and win!
Here’s what one young man wrote to his father in an email:
I love you so much. You have been such a good dad to me! You are always willing to help me with things and give me things. You are always there for me. I know this sounds rude of me, but I really need to hear from you as to how much you love me, care about me, how special I am to you, how proud you are of me. I realize this stuff might make you uncomfortable but in order for me to grow, I need to know these things from you. If you can’t verbalize them to me you can write me back. I love you so much. Thank you for all the sacrifices you have made to help me be who I am today. I love you and look forward to hearing from you.
Despite this young man’s overt attempt to get his very deep needs met by his father, his dad never responded to this email. It broke the young man’s heart.
Your son desperately wants to know you, and in order for that to happen you have to enter his world. If he loves Legos and spends hours on his belly in his room, join him. Get on your belly and build a Lego city with him. If he likes to paint, enroll in a painting class with him in the summer and allow him to be a hero! As you enter into his world and affirm the things that he is passionate about, he will be excited to enter into your world.
As his father you are given the very unique opportunity to bless him in much the same way God blessed Adam with the affirming words, “It is good.” You can mirror the father heart of God when He blessed Jesus at His baptism and said, “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” When you impart this blessing to your son, you empower him to be all God has created him to be. For your son, you should be God-with-skin-on for him. You don’t want to miss the opportunity to bless and call up your son, empowering him to be the man of God he has been created to be.
Your son wants to know your story. He wants to know how you handled life when you were his age. He wants to know your struggles, your joys, and your fears. He wants to know you! Many parents feel that keeping such personal information secret is necessary to maintain their parental controls, but I would argue that sharing such intimate details of your life with your son helps him to realize that you too are a real person, not just a bigger-than-life parental authority.
So for those of you who want to bullet points here you go:
For a young man to develop a secure sense of self a dad must:
· Strongly connect with the son at an early age
· Affirm the son’s sexual identity as a boy/male
· Take interest in him and his interest(s)
· Do not allow him to reject you
· Demonstrate love by word and deed
· Love his mother and assure her security and safety
· Transmit gender-esteem “you measure up!”
· Always give affirmation, attention, and affection
Parenting a sensitive son who struggles with same gender attraction is not easy. They are high maintenance kids who demand lots of time from their fathers for a long time. However, if you engage them, you will find their interactions to be both intriguing and life-changing. You will discover that God has entrusted to your care someone who has the potential to lead men and nations, to do great things for God, and to dream dreams and see visions only hoped for by most. You will discover there really are 101 ways to look at every problem and often turn those problems into great opportunities. If you engage with him, you will discover a wonderful man of God waiting to be called up to all that God has in store for him; a man who will bless you and has the potential to change the world!