My 16-year-old son's more interested in the arts than in athletics, seems to have no interest in girls, and doesn't have many male friends at school or church. With all the publicity about homosexuality today, we can't help but worry our son could be gay. What should we do?
You just described my husband, Steve, as a 16-year-old. He was First Chair in band, never dated, and spent more time working and studying than hanging out with the guys. Today we have a healthy 16-year marriage and three wonderful children. So just because your son doesn't resemble the stereotypical high-school boy doesn't mean he's gay.
Two common threads exist among those who struggle with homosexual tendencies. First, does your son exhibit any signs of childhood molestation or incest? If you suspect this is the case, seek help from a local Christian counselor.
Then look at the father/son (and for girls, the mother/daughter) relationship. Does your son feel accepted by his father? Is your husband a jock who rejects or even ridicules your son's interest in the arts? Perhaps your son's father isn't even in the picture, either by divorce, absence, death, or passivity.
The father holds the key to affirming a boy's manhood. Without that blessing, a gaping hole is left in a young man's life. Fortunately, a healing substitute often can be found in a strong father figure. If not, some young men attempt to "cannibalize" other men through homosexual actions to fill that void.
I know from personal friendships it's possible for someone who struggles with homosexual temptation or who has embraced that lifestyle to find freedom and strength to change. The answer is first found in receiving redemption through Jesus Christ. From there I recommend logging onto www.exodus-international.org or www.lovewonout.com for further information and direction.
A Swearing Spouse
What should I say to my eight-year-old son when he hears his father, a self-professing Christian, take the Lord's name in vain? I've tried to call my spouse privately on this offenseto no avail.
Enlist your son's help to pray for his father. To guard against undermining your husband's authority or your son's respect for him, ask him to pray for you at the same time. Maybe your son lied or was unkind to his sister during the day. Use this as an opportunity to suggest at bedtime, "Let's pray together to ask Jesus to help you overcome this sin in your life."
Then ask him to pray for you about one of your besetting sins. Be vulnerable; confess an area of weakness such as overeating or anger. Agree to hold each other up in prayer.
Almost as an afterthought, suggest you two also pray his dad will stop taking the Lord's name in vain. There's no need to water down his father's sin. Your son needs to know that just because his father does it doesn't mean breaking one of the Ten Commandments is acceptable.
Use this situation to teach an even greater truth. Jesus says in Luke 6:37, "Do not judge, and you will not be judged," and in Luke 6:41, "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" By beginning your prayer time by focusing on your problems and then lifting up your husband, you'll teach your son everyone desperately needs the mercy Jesus offers because none of us ever can live up to the law.
Teen with a 'Tude
Arrgh! My daughter just turned 13, and I'm having a hard time dealing with her snotty teenage attitude. It's much easier for me to let her be online or on the phone with her friends than to spend time with her. Help!
Before I had teens of my own, I often heard from two different camps. The first said to brace myself because the teen years are the worst. The other considered these years to be their favorite. Personally, I've found them to be "the best of times and the worst of times."
Two words are key in raising teenagers: relationship and survival. Thankfully, your daughter's friends are a big part of her life. As long as her schoolwork and other responsibilities are taken care of, consider her time on the phone and online with her friends as a nice reprieve during the "worst of times" when that battle for independence is raging.
But how do you cultivate a few "best of times"? By nurturing your relationship, even when you (or she) don't feel like it. Make some special mother/ daughter time a priority, whether it's before she goes to bed, when you drive her to school, or even over a Saturday-morning latte at your local coffee house.
Keep the conversation light; your main goal is to encourage conversation. Talk about clothes or school or boys. Share what's going on in your life. Try to make this a time to look forward to. One day she might even voluntarily open up and start talking about the deeper challenges she faces.
Don't be surprised if those tender feelings for your little girl aren't as far away as you think. It's amazing how close you feel to somebody after a good ole "heart-to-heart" (even if it's the one civil moment in the whole day or week!).
Lisa Whelchel is the author of Creative Correction (Focus on the Family) and the mother of three. Check out her website at lisawhelchel.com. E-mail your parenting questions for Lisa to email@example.com.
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