What’s a family? I don’t ask myself this question to find arguments to argue that a gay couple is a family, because such a thing is obvious, if it’s really a couple who wants to be a family, I ask myself that question only to understand what is the founding value of a family, I ask myself it above all because I see so many boys who don’t have or never had a family or have had families in which conflict or even violence prevailed.
A gay boy already has enough social problems because homophobia is widespread and he can hardly be himself with friends or in study or work environments. A “real” family should constitute a welcoming, affective, reassuring environment in which one can be oneself without fear, an environment that provides not “rules” but “examples” of high-profile human relationships, an environment in which, even if everybody is free, the problems are faced together because there is an important emotional bond among people.
From what I see, many families formally continue to exist even if in fact every emotional relationship, not only between spouses but also between parents and sons, has ceased for some time, these are families composed of people who stay together for necessity, in which there is not dialogue and not even a will to understand the point of view of others, families in which the ostentation of disinterestedness towards the other is perpetual and the underlining that “I don’t care about you and I stay here just because I have to stay here for necessity” is a daily tool of aggression.
I don’t want to make a moralistic abstract speech claiming that the family should be the typical white mill family. No! Separations exist and even divorces and are a very common thing, but people could separate without hatred, without rancor, without the mental reserve of “You will pay dearly for all this!” But I don’t want to enter into relations between spouses, I would rather stop on those between parents and sons. I have seen separated or divorced parents who have done everything to maintain a good relationship with their sons but I have seen also parents who have considered children as bargaining goods or worse as objects on which to haggle in quarrels between parents, I have seen parents who don’t spend time with their children and who, in the name of liberty, abandon them totally to themselves in very delicate moments of their growth or marginalize them by limiting themselves to giving their children the minimum financial support due by law and often not even that, considering children an unwelcome appendix of a failed marriage.
The relationship between parents and sons cannot be improvised and above all it is not objectively credible that a parent can change his relations with his son abruptly. A son knows his parent in depth and knows how the parent deals with him, every sudden change of course sounds at least strange to his son’s ears.
When I talk about relations between parents and sons, people often tell me that I lack any experience in this field and that therefore I can only make rhetorical and necessarily very superficial speeches. In fact I have no children and I find it difficult to understand the position of a parent and, among other things, through Gay Project I usually get in contact with sons and only rarely with parents, so I hear only one bell. All this is true, but seeing guys who don’t trust their parents and are afraid of parents’ possible reactions because they have witnessed domestic violence since childhood, it’s really disarming.
I wonder if so many couples who go to the wedding and bring children into the world realize what they are doing and the responsibilities they assume in front of their sons. In a gay couple, where children are not brought into the world, the sense of responsibility develops only in a couple relationship, but the presence of children changes things completely. The behavior that a couple of parents has today, when their children are very young, will inevitably affect them decades later. The basic attitudes in front of life are essentially assimilated by the family environment and when the family doesn’t exist in fact, the children grow up carrying serious emotional insecurities never resolved and tend to transmit them in turn. I have asked myself several times who can teach parents to be good parents, because in a sense this is learned and transmitted from generation to generation, but when you put children in the world you cannot invoke the excuse of having received in turn an inadequate affective education.
Adult people should be able to understand the consequences of their behaviors and should be able to correct themselves if those behaviors are not adequate. Very often It’s exactly within families that are to be sought the deep reasons for the distress of the sons, who then inevitably go in search of other environments that constitute alternative quasi-families and end up harboring feelings of hatred and resentment towards their parents who, after having brought them into the world, have completely abandoned them to themselves.
Even now there are parents who, faced with the homosexuality of their children, don’t think in the least to ask what is really homosexuality and to seek answers from those who experience it daily on their own skin. The vast majority believe they know enough and rely on prejudices or react improperly and sometimes violently because they have learned that this is a parent’s duty.
A parent should acquire the awareness that his period of life apprenticeship is now over and that he must start working for the next generation, putting aside the idea of thinking about himself and putting himself at the center of the scene, leaving space for the growing generation. A parent should agree to have a support function in the context of a cyclic process in which, after adolescence, there is maturity and then, inevitably, decay and death. Parents who try to remain eternally young demonstrate that they have not understood that that stage of life has passed for them and that it is up to them to prepare the next generation not only by putting children in the world, but by making young guys capable of managing their own freedom and to exercise their responsibilities when it will be their turn.
One can be a good parent only if he understands that his function is transitory and that children are not an appendix of parents but are autonomous people and therefore they can make mistakes and indeed have to make mistakes in order to learn by trials and errors the art of live. Parents who want to play a leading role have not understood what their role is. Of course it’s not easy to have the sense of the measure and identify the boundary line between a discreet and useful presence and an intrusive and potentially harmful presence, so it is also up to the sons to understand the mistakes of the parents and help them get back on track. The dialogue between parents and sons has always been difficult but that one between parents and gay sons is likely to become critical when the preclusions and ideological assumptions, from both sides, have the upper hand on the affection and willingness to understand each other.
For a parent, having a gay child is not an easy thing, doubts about how to proceed can be many, also because a parent must try to overcome the preconceptions learned over decades on a subject that is substantially foreign to him. Errors are committed in any case, but sons are able to distinguish true errors from aggression and lack of respect.
I have often thought that parents are basically alone in dealing with the problem of having a gay son, both because for reasons of privacy they avoid talking about it with relatives and known people, and they certainly do well, and because they have no specific knowledge of gay environments and cannot easily turn to really competent and disinterested people.
For several years, Gay Project has kept open a section of the Forum dedicated to parents, which however received on average a single annual intervention from parents, so in substance it was completely neglected. The section dedicated to parents is still standing, at least to collect documentations of relationships between parents and gay sons from the point of view of sons. In this way, parents who read that section can see how the parent-son relationship is experienced on the other side. I therefore invite all those who believe it appropriate, to report their experiences so that the usefulness of the section can increase.
If you like, you can join the discussion on this post on Gay Project Forum: http://gayprojectforum.altervista.org/T-relations-between-parents-and-gay-sons