Friday, February 25, 2005

Parental guilt at having a gay child

Parental guilt at having a gay child

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Friday, February 25, 2005 1:07 AM

We don’t really know what causes homosexuality. Some say the causes are genetic. Others maintain that it is learned behavior. I think it is a combination of both genetics and learned behavior.

How do you explain the homosexual who has had no desire for women since the day he was born? Genetics. Then, later on when he gravitates toward like-minded young people, he learns behavior.

Homosexuality, however, isn’t something that parents do. Still, many parents feel guilty and ask themselves what it is they did to cause their son to become a homosexual.

The American Psychiatric Association believes that “innate characteristics contribute to sexual orientation cannot be changed through medical or psychiatric treatment.” Still, many parents, upon learning that their child is a homosexual or lesbian, will try to change him or her. Unable to accept the reality confronting them, they feverishly look for ways to make things right. And making it right usually means doing what it takes to get them back to normal.

That might mean getting the boy to go out with a woman. I know of instances when fathers have brought the gay son to a prostitute in the hope that sex with a woman will do the job. It doesn’t, of course. What it does, however, is to further traumatize the youngster. Or, the pressure is on for him to get into sports and “act like a real man.”

In many cases, there is a subtle (or not so subtle) rejection of the homosexual son or lesbian daughter. This is reflected in the feelings of the children who find it difficult to feel one with their parents.

We parents have expectations of our children and it is inconceivable that a parent wishes to have a homosexual son or lesbian daughter. So when it does happen, parents have a lot of adjustments to make.

But before making adjustments, they will need to do battle with their own feelings. They will need to face their own reality and their own unfulfilled expectations. Fathers feel guilty for not teaching masculine values.

They naturally see their sons as reflections of themselves and they don’t like what they are seeing.

There is a measure of shame. What will friends and the extended family think? And there is anger that things worked out this way. Anger with God even. Why did He let this happen?

Then, there is great confusion as this mix of feelings gives rise to a sense of increasing helplessness and hopelessness as nothing seems to work when trying to change the youngster.

It is not surprising that parents get so disturbed when they are faced with the reality of a homosexual child. Not surprisingly, their feelings run the whole gamut, from hope for change to despair that nothing will ever change.

More tomorrow.


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