Stay sensitive when handling issues of sexuality

  • Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dear Liz,

My rising high school junior just gave me the shock of my life, by telling me he is gay. I did my best to not get angry, fall apart and especially not to lecture or degrade in any way. It was the toughest conversation of my life. I had noticed he had been down lately - so I asked him if there was anything wrong.

He asked me not to tell his dad yet.

His greatest fear was being shunned or disowned by his (religious) family. He said it has been torture.

I don’t know what to do next. I’ve done some research online, and in the process of finding a counselor for him. Other than praying for understanding, acceptance and help in communicating this to his dad, what else can I do.

Caught off guard

Dear “off guard,”

Bless you for the seemingly sensitive way you have handled this so far.

It is indeed one of the most complex challenges a parent may face in parenthood. And for your son as an individual. Your prayers certainly are in the right direction. Keep that up.

Seeking accurate supportive information is another. Seeking counseling with an experienced licensed counselor is important for your son and for the family as well.

Don’t expect a counselor to “change” his mind, because sexuality issues are deeply complex. It is important that you seek counsel, and especially if you find yourself blaming yourself (or someone else).

There is a great deal we are learning still, and the most important thing is to arm your son with great coping skills, the ability to deal with bullying or other social issues he may encounter, health and safety issues and the truth that he can live a wonderful life by continuing to gain an education and spiritual strength.

Let the counselor guide you and your son about how and when to share this information with his father (and others).

He is clear about his greatest fear.

The anguish over this is serious, and his fear is well-founded.

Great inspired religious leaders warn parents to love their children regardless - that we may not condone the lifestyle, but we are to love the child.

The issue of sexual preference is certainly controversial, especially among the religious. Love him, and lean on the all the guidance you can get.

Thank you for your courage in sharing this (and for your son’s as well).

Dear Liz,

We are already facing boredom in week one out of school with our 8 and 10 year olds. Luckily I work part time, so am available to them part of the time. Suggestions?

Summertime woes

Dear “Summertime,”

I say, boredom is a choice. Make a giant list (or boredom collage with magazine clippings and photographs) of each child’s interests, things they want to learn, passions - and encourage them to use that as a guide to get busy with something whenever boredom strikes.

I think boredom has increased because kids are forever being entertained and stimulated with electronics. They need to learn to “unplug” and get into a good book, an art project, an exercise routine, dance, music and something new to learn.

And then there is this amazing thing in our backyard - the beach. Slather on sunscreen and get out and be a kid yourself. See how many different kinds of sandcastles you can create in a summer (take pictures). Great question.

Contact Liz via asksharpliz@gmail.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health.

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