I realized (this morning's enlightenment) that in responding to the points of comment I find issue with, I failed to respond to the larger
This is a difficult situation and it's fair to recognize that. Sometimes a parent loves their kid like crazy and it hurts them on several levels.
Often they have a lot of their own ego in play about what others think which makes it much worse.
It isn't fair to beat up on someone for being honest about what they're going through with that, and I apologize if I have unintentionally done so.
I mean it's fair to address the points at issue but having these issues does not make them a bad person, it just makes them a person right in the
midst of a very challenging situation in life. It's HARD to transition through this stuff. More for some than others.
Every person eventually goes through something that is hard for them to deal with, something which forces them to face their fears, prejudices or
limitations, and situations they don't know how to handle. This is one version, not the only version. There are quite a few other things that you can
discover about a family member that are sometimes so much worse as to make a person desperately wish it were only a matter of someone's sexual
orientation to deal with...
It is ok for parents to be initially frustrated, confused, upset, they are going to be, this is totally normal, you can't change that part. Nearly
every parent in that situation is going to go through that. It's one thing to address the problem points. It's another to make it seem like their
"turbulence" is itself wrong. It's more like "unavoidable" for most.
I tend to think every human should have a counselor (not religious) anyway, but I think when someone runs into situations in their life that are
really challenging in a way nothing has been before, especially when it relates to immediate family, this can be even more helpful. Sometimes, just
having someone objective who is not personally affected (like family) or emotionally impelled for other reasons (like people on the internet often, or
others in the church) can be really great.
This is a comment I realized was bothering me:
I was told that it would change the family gatherings if I didn't allow that behavior during the holidays.
Think about that for a minute.
Are we expecting your son to be having sex for the crowd? Because the only homosexual thing specific to "behavior" is sex. In the average family
gathering how many people actually "act out" sexual behavior? Unless your family is way more promiscuous than mine, and given you're religious
they're probably not, this would be rare. Spouses/girlfriends at our family gatherings merely sit next to each other, and often barely that as we
tend to segregate by gender and by age group in various rooms and activities.
The rest of it looks an amazing amount like "being a human being." You know, with friends and family. Sometimes the 'friend' happens to be a
partner, much like sometimes a female friend happens to be a partner for a man, but this is just people sitting around talking, eating, watching the
game, doing dishes, teasing the kids, same-ol' typical family holiday stuff.
If by behavior this is being extended to mean something like "Might hold someone's hand or have their arm around them," then you know, even though
I think this should be ok myself (and try to recall most people newly open with this need the support of their partner in public situations), if it's
really that tough for everyone at least initially, maybe you can just outright ask your son to "More-gradually introduce the family to this over a
period of time" and make it very plain what you mean without being insulting, and if you think you can't, or he's oversensitive, then write it down
carefully in a card perhaps, don't risk a verbal conversation causing lifetime hurt due to the inflammatory nature of emotions.
This is not to say that you can make a moratorium like some ancient dancing no closer than six inches law, nor can you fairly demand anything
permanently. But it's fair to say that if you love your son and I'm sure you do, and he loves you and I'm sure he does, then I believe you could
work together, and if that requires a little bit of compromise while the entire family adapts to this new element which is likely uncomfortable for
everybody, I think if you're willing to do it that way -- and I mean compromise, not "give him conditional demands" which is a totally different
thing, the underlying emphasis here being to make it clear you love him and want to work with him on what will best allow you to continue to have a
loving family and relationship with him -- then maybe it could be good. It is worth trying.
In other words, if you think of this like a business issue, the important point is that you both have the same goals: you both love each other and you
both want to have a loving family. It is in the best interests of both of you to recognize the situation, whatever it is, and find a way to maintain a
good relationship between you and a loving family overall. There is no need for things to be one extreme or the other. An entire family or even a
single parent does not have to throw away their religious beliefs or join the gay parade just to accept that their son or daughter has different
preferences for a partner.
Some things are a matter of compromise, not always permanently. If you are willing to meet your son halfway on this and sincerely work toward
accepting him and whomever he chooses to make his family, perhaps he would be willing to make an effort toward that also. I suspect he would far
rather have that, than have rejection from those he loves most.
When my cousin the manly-man suddenly had a male partner (as opposed to a never ending string of skanky women he treated badly), the first few family
gatherings were a little uncomfortable here and there -- everyone was kind to them, but after a few events, discomfort was over. Nobody cared after
that. At first it was new for everyone, the family hadn't had anybody gay before and nobody knew how to behave about it. But after awhile you realize
there is no way to behave about it because it's not any different than anything or anybody else. It was us standing around bug-eyed because
cousin-hottie wasn't with a woman anymore, it wasn't really him, he and his partner sat on the back porch with a beer and talked to the other guys,
which looked exactly like he had behaved at every other family holiday for the previous 20 years.
I believe the father of a family has a powerful role to play, similar to a CEO. I believe the father's strength of will and expansive warmth are what
form the anchor and foundation for a family, those two things being equally important. I hope you can set a strong emphasis on love and family, and
make clear to anyone asking or observing that this is what you consider important in life. How you respond is not just about you and your son -- it
will affect your wife, your other 3 sons, and the extended family too, including your grandchildren and events for the next 40 years. There is a
responsibility here, to see the bigger picture and longer term vision of how your response has a domino-effect on everyone.
My father married 5 times. I'm a minor sociologist just from having so many families. Nothing is more important than a loving and extended family.
The world of hurt you set up for so many otherwise... trust me. "Love rules."