From: Jennifer (name changed for privacy)
Subject: Even more advice
Thank you so much for taking the time to write me back. I have read so much and from so many sources, but I really haven’t heard much from people like you – those who are active, faithful Latter-day Saints with SSA who are trying to live the gospel. I can also tell you are still fairly young – so what you say is so important to me.
It’s funny because sometimes I say in my mind I’m just going to “give my son to God” and let it go. But I can’t seem to do that. I get kind of obsessed. I find I need to read everything I can. When we first found out, for quite a few months, I really did have to do a whole lot of soul searching. It’s amazing how “good” the pro-gay propaganda is. It’s compelling and persuasive. I felt like before I could expect something of my son (even if it was in my own mind) I needed to know and understand what was realistic.
First I read all the words of the prophets. I’ve read all the studies out there too. I’ve read everything from change to change is not possible, everything. I can see why when some parents find their children have SSA, they leave the gospel behind, with their children – because the outside influence is so tempting and compelling. However, I also graduated from BYU in advertising/communications. My background in marketing and public relations, believe it or not, has helped me see just how impressive the whole pro-gay campaign is. At the same time, it’s also helped me recognize they are indeed marketing strategies, not necessarily truths. It’s sad to me that so many have fallen for much of it. I could have been one. Believe me, this has tested my testimony in ways that I never thought would be tested.
I say that – and thank you for your kind words about me as a parent – because yes, my first reaction was “What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?” I looked back into my past and could suddenly remember every little thing I did wrong as a parent. I even remembered the time I yelled at him for something when he was only two. I was mad at myself clear back then, because good grief, he was only two! And I was mad at myself all over again years later. Yup, I have mentally flogged myself a bazillion times. But I’ve got a best friend that knows – I needed SOME one – and her husband has SSA – and she has been great in reminding me that I have tried to be a good parent. But it’s not about me here…
So here is my issue: Recently my son yelled that we think he’s so wicked and evil. And that was a big deal to us. Because from the moment we found out, we’ve done nothing but say words of love. So there has obviously been a big disconnect there.
I feel the clock ticking. I have a son who not only wants, but is planning to life a fully gay lifestyle. He has not much time before he will move out. He’s planning to go to a college in-state but away from home. I know that once he’s on his own, there’s nothing I can do. My challenge – and my husband’s challenge too – is knowing what to do NOW while he’s still in our home. I wish he had “other voices”. He talks about us and our “conservative ways” as if it puts a bad taste in his mouth. He thinks we will “come around” but he’s sure it’s going to take us decades. What he doesn’t realize is that our “conservative” ways are really just gospel living. I don’t think he gets that all the things he’s blessed with are a direct result of happy living.
Do you have any insight? Why would he think we hate him?
First off, about the fact that he thinks you think he is a sinner: he said it, so he clearly thinks it. This does not mean that it has anything to do with what you have said or done. I think that his exposure to gay propaganda did that (due to personal details, this portion was omitted from the above email. Suffice it to say, Jennifer’s son was very heavily influenced by outside sources, including direct contact with people and certain websites). Many people think that Mormons hate gay people. I mean HATE. I will have friends try to explain to me about how we hate gay people and I try to tell them that we don’t. Then they just look at me and say “Umm…yes they do. Do you know what they do to them?” And then they spout off all sorts of ridiculous things about how we send them to Jesus camps and torture them to fix them or we kick them out of church and make sure they can’t get a job or lose their house etc etc.
Your son probably doesn’t actually know yet what the church actually teaches about Homosexuality. And so that is probably why he responded that way. He thinks that you hate him, because that is what he was TOLD you would do. Another thing; some parents do kick their kids out of the house and never want to talk to them again. Some just don’t like their kids anymore. It DOES happen. But it does NOT happen as much as the gay community would like the world to think. They latch on to thefew extreme instances of actual hatred and unkindness and they set that as the norm for the church. I know of some bishops who have told young men who simply have the feelings but have not acted on it that the feelings are evil and that they are going to Hell if they do not begin to love women. But that is a rare occurrence. They are clearly outside the thinking and policy of the church and are wrong. But if it happens even once, it’ll get all over the internet.
So, I think he will begin to learn that you do love him, but he has to learn about what you actually believe and not take it from other people. And honestly, he will begin to do that naturally as he matures. But again, it will take time. I know it is hard, but try to be patient.
May I suggest this: I am not saying that you did anything wrong to allow a situation to arise that would foster those feelings, but I think it is possible that certain things were simply just not known and therefore he found answers in the wrong places. What do I mean by that? Well, I assume that it is likely that Homosexuality is not something that you discussed often around the house.
I don’t mean that every time at dinner you should say “Well kids, how should we deal with SSA?” But I do think that there are some things that are taboo or that parents don’t want/feel the need to discuss, and if the kids have an issue with whatever that taboo thing is, they feel like they have to keep it secret because they are afraid where their parents might stand or how they would react. Not because they think their parents don’t love them, but because when it comes to that particular subject, THEY JUST DON’T KNOW.
So, this is my advice to all parents: talk. Just talk about stuff. Don’t be tight lipped. Talk about sex. The where the when the why the how. Talk about masturbation. Talk about pornography. Talk about dating. Talk about drug use. Talk about alcohol use. Talk about gambling. Talk about stealing. Talk about depression and sadness. Talk about bullying. Talk about mental and physical and sexual abuse. Make sure they know what all of the above are, and that if they happen, that they can come to you and talk about it, because there is already an open dialogue. Don’t have any un-talkable issues.
Of course, again, at the end of the day, your children are who they are and they will be who they will be. You can’t force them. But you CAN “teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves”. You can’t make children be what you want. You can only show the way and hope they will walk it.
Anyway, enough lecture on how to be a good parent. I think you are doing a wonderful job, and besides, I don’t have any kids myself, so what do I know? Keep doing what you are doing. Be patient and continue to tell him you love him. I’m praying for you,