What would you say if your child told you that he or she was gay?
Maybe you haven’t experienced that but a friend of yours has.
In her new book, Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home, my friend, Author Lori Wildenberg, addresses this topic, among others that our children may present us with.
I asked her to share her wisdom on my blog for you or someone you know who may come face to face with a situation like this.
Here’s Lori’s wisdom (which can also be applied to other areas of a grown child’s behavior or choices):
“My young adult just told me he’s (or she’s) gay. Now what?”
This inquiry used to be a rare one. This past month I have spoken to three different moms seeking answers to this very question.
Broken-hearted, lonely, and confused, they are looking for camaraderie, comfort, and clarity.
Empathy and compassion I have in full supply. I can relate. My daughter is same-sex attracted.
Answers—God has those.
Each family, each child, each parent is different. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how this is played out in the family.
God is the one to trust with the answers.
Along with my listening ear, I can provide some guidelines when it comes to living with this new reality. The most important thing I tell parents is to love their child. Once the young person has uncovered his secret, he is relieved his secret is out but fears his parents will not love him. Show him that is not true. Let him (or her) know you love him.
So what does love sound like?
Say these 12 vital statements to your child in order to build and maintain a relational bridge.
- We are always here for you. Alleviate the young person’s fear of rejection.
- You are an important part of our family. Reinforce his place in the family.
- You are precious to God and to us. Remind him of your love and God’s love.
- We will still ______ (go out to lunch, go to games, enjoy each other’s company). Continue to pursue your relationship.
- Your same-sex attraction doesn’t define you or impede our relationship. Our identity is in Christ.
- We respect your right to your opinions and beliefs. Respect can happen even if you cannot support the way your child is living out his orientation or preference.
- We expect you to respect our right to our opinions and beliefs. Respect must occur for all.
- Your friends (partner) are always welcome in our home. Be a part of your child’s life and get to know those who are important to him.
- We have the option to say no if a request (like having a partner spend the night in the same room) makes us uncomfortable, violates our conscience, or butts up against our convictions.
- When we dialogue, we will talk and listen respectfully. We may need to agree to disagree.
- We will not lecture or debate. This will get us nowhere fast. We will show grace while speaking truth.
- We will not always talk about the same sex-attraction every time we get together. We all know where each individual stands on this issue. Let’s begin by talking about where we can agree or have common ground.
If you are in conflict with your child’s sexuality, don’t feel as if you have to compromise or sacrifice your beliefs to maintain a relationship with your kid. It isn’t loving to force someone to see things a particular way. Relational blackmail can go both ways: “I disown you if you are gay” or “I will walk away if you can’t accept me for who I am.”
Love one another unconditionally. Acceptance and agreement are not the same thing.
We can accept a person without being in full agreement with everything each party thinks and believes or how each person acts or feels. Families are made up of individuals who do not agree on many things. But they can agree to love and respect each other even when they disagree.
There is no reason why this issue has to divide families.
When we speak truth with gentleness and respect and show grace we give love. When you feel concerned, bring it to God. Trust Him with the details. He loves our kids more than we do.
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. (Ecclesiastes 7:9)
Lori Wildenberg is passionate about helping families build connections that last a life time. She is a licensed parent-family educator and co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. She has written 4 parenting books. including her most recent: Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home. She is a parent consultant, national speaker, and lead Mentor Mom at the Moms Together Facebook Community Page. Every Monday you can find her blogging about faith and family at loriwildenberg.blogspot.com . Mostly, Lori is wife to Tom and mom of four. The Wildenbergs’ home is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.