Dear Liz,

Wow, the world is changing quickly. My daughter came home from school excited that she sees and experiences more acceptance toward classmates who might be different from their peers in sexuality and gender identity. First, I’m pleased that this issue matters to her. We share the value to “love as Christ loves” and to let God be the ultimate judge. I went to Wando High School, as did my husband (way back then), and I don’t think such differences would have been tolerated let alone accepted except by a small group of students and teachers. I asked her if kids were being “flamboyant” about it and she corrected me that there are many acceptable forms of self expression. She also reassured me that the school still has a dress code and code of conduct that includes not disturbing the learning process. Wow again. Who is this person? She has matured a lot as she is finishing her senior year, class of 2020.

My husband is not so sure about it and says he’s worried that kids may be influenced to take a different path because of the acceptance. What do you think? We appreciate your column and have enjoyed hearing you speak over the years.

Changing times

Dear “Changing times,”

What a great letter. Thank you. And both your reaction and that of your husband are expected and normal. It is a huge challenge for parents especially to embrace a social world much different from that of our upbringing or own “norms. “Differences in race, religion and socio-economic conditions used to be grounds for contention. That is changing, and a more peaceful accepting and loving approach to our fellow-persons is certainly the more mature and Godly approach. It does not mean, however, that we lessen our own morals and values. My hope is that Individuals will grow to clarify their own values, Faith position, and social-political morals and positions without having to be violent, ugly or forceful ever. As for the fear that alternative ways of loving or lifestyles will be contagious—simply untrue. The most important thing is developing the ability to accept the consequences of one’s choices without blaming others. This factor does require maturity and especially emotional maturity and emotional intelligence. Are preteens and teens vulnerable to influence from their peers? Absolutely, especially the need to fit in. The best parents can do is be as healthy as they, themselves, can be as well as truly accountable for their own choices. Consistency is critical. We must model our values and our faith position allowing our children to bask in that peace and security. Kids who do tend to make the most winning decisions long term. A lot of harm has been done in the past with “re-programming” attempts around a child’s supposed sexuality. When in question, seek the best help and support from solid licensed sources to first secure yourselves and your own inner peace. And then standby to support of and offer help to those who may be struggling to make life decisions. It is a process in development that each of us has to face at some point in our lives. It does help to ask yourself: What am I most afraid of for my child? For myself? Is this fear realistic? What do I ultimately have control over? Remember: “In every crisis is opportunity.”

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