Monday, June 6, 2016

Parenthood: Week 155 – The Freedom To Love My Son, Gay or Straight

I’m prepared for the possibility that my son might be straight.  Of course, if he's ends up just being Gay, we'll love him the same.  I’m prepared for the possibility that my son might marry someone who is a different ethnicity than himself, but we’ll accept whoever he brings home, even if the man or woman he loves is mixed race. Every one of the students I’ve taught for the past ten years some kind of “special need,” so I’m sure that my boy will have a “special need” as well (I define "special needs" broadly as a unique set of learning circumstances that a child needs to reach their full potential).

Once upon a time, the idea that your child could be a homosexual, could marry someone who didn’t “look like them” (e.g. a person of another race), or could have special needs was unimaginable. It is exactly this kind of thinking that led to parents traumatize their children and rationalize conditional love through misinterpretations of religious text and/or their own closed mindedness.

When things are different, we don’t understand them, and what we don't understand, we fear. And what we fear we push away, try to change and ostracize. When that thing is your child, than what you are doing in this process is abuse.

There’s the “in our own image” thinking when people visualize their own children. A lot of parents want their kids to “be like them.” A lot of kids are very much like their parents, but many are not, and more likely than not our kids in some way will be very different than we are and instead of dreading this fact, we need to embrace this possibility.

All of the homophobia, racism, bigotry, stereotyping are not based on facts, but rather fears. You can't let fear get in the way of me loving my child. If your church, your friends, your family or your thoughts put up makes love conditional, than those things that you believe in are wrong.

The Civil Rights movement, modern progress in exposing racial issues in America, feminism and the success of the LGBT movement has all contributed to our ability to love our children. We now know that an interracial child is not inherently inferior and not fitting in a "traditional" gender or sexual category is no longer considered a mental illness. As parents when facing this plurality of what our kids may become, we now have knowledge, support and freedom to love our children, not for who we want them to be, but who they are.

This is one of those “recognize the work we’ve done, but acknowledge that we have a lot of work left to do,” situations. Right now the current boogeyman is transgender people. Every time someone supports these bogus, unjust laws, it’s a convincing a parent that if their child becomes transgendered, there are perverse and not deserving of love. That’s messed up.

If we do not continue to move forward in becoming a more accepting and pluralistic society, children in growing numbers will loose the love of their parents.  The love our children have for themselves develops from the love they feel from us as their parents. Also, the love we express to others, nurtures the love we have for ourselves and without embracing the true nature of our children's being and identity, while our bodies may live on, our souls will not.

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