Believe it or not, it’s a hopeful sign that your teen son has brought up the subject of same-sex attraction and homosexuality. Nothing is more important than open communication between parent and child — especially when it comes to sexuality and gender identity. So before anything else, you might want to try drawing your son out. You could ask, “What made you curious about this?”
If you listen carefully and respond wisely, he might share more of his thought processes. This can lead to a helpful discussion of the subject. It will also strengthen your bond — and a good parent-child relationship is one of the best lines of defense against homosexuality.
Hear your child’s heart
Joe Dallas, an expert in this field, says that there are three different ways the word “homosexuality” is used:
- The word can refer to a homosexual condition or orientation — when an individual is sexually aroused primarily by members of the same sex. This condition is involuntary, and it usually appears early in life.
- “Homosexuality” can be used to mean specifically homosexual behavior — in other words, sexual contact with a person of the same sex.
- The word is often used to describe a frame of mind when a person sees homosexuality as a primary identifying characteristic (usually accompanied by acceptance of homosexuality as being normal and moral). A “homosexual” in this sense of the term is an individual who identifies as “gay.”
Keep all that in mind as you think about what your son tells you. It’s possible that he’s been having same-sex sexual arousal (the first description above). But those feelings aren’t unusual or uncommon in early adolescence. You can explain to your son that feelings are temporary and unreliable and shouldn’t form the foundation of someone’s personal identity. Feelings aren’t proof that anyone is “born gay.”
Not sure that’s the case with your son?
Signs of pre-homosexuality
Some signs of pre-homosexuality show up early in a child’s life as what might be called “cross-gender behavior.” Five markers, in particular, can determine whether a boy or girl is a likely candidate for gender identity disorder:
- A recurring desire to be the opposite sex — or an insistence that they are the opposite sex.
- An affinity to cross-dress.
- A strong and persistent preference for cross-sexual roles in make-believe play; persistent fantasies of being the opposite sex.
- An intense desire to participate in stereotypical games and hobbies of the opposite sex.
- A strong preference for friends of the opposite sex.
If you’ve noticed any of these signs in your son — or if conversations with him give you serious concern about his sexual identity — don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help. You might even want to encourage your son to take advantage of counseling to calm any fears he has.
Where to find help
We realize this is a complicated subject. Call us for a free over-the-phone consultation. Our licensed or pastoral counselors would be glad to talk with you in more detail. They can also give you a local counselor referral from our carefully screened network.
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