venerdì 14 agosto 2015

Not breaking our relationship with our son

The process a couple went through when their son told them he was gay

My husband and I have been married for almost 30 years and have three children: a boy, a girl and another boy. The first two are my stepchildren but basically grew up with me from a very young age.
When the oldest, let’s call him Nick, was growing up, he never had a girlfriend. Even in his 20s, he never told us about going out with a girl, so we had a little suspicion. At a certain point, around five years ago, he confided to his sister and then to me that he was gay, but he was afraid to tell to his father because my husband is quite conservative.

Several thoughts went through my head: what should I do? I’m not happy about this, however, he is our son…
I felt it was important to keep faithful to my Catholic values, and what I had always learned was that what counted for me was to love. While I would like others to discover the beauty of these values, at the end of my life God won’t ask me if I preached them but if I lived them. And that means, first of all, not treating people differently because of what they believe or what they are.

Nick works in another part of our state, and one day when he visited us he finally got up the courage to tell his father. My husband reacted in a very loving way, with no risk of breaking the relationship. Later he told me that he wasn’t that surprised either, though actually hearing it from our son was a bit of a shock.

Several thoughts came to my mind. What if one day Nick tells us that he wants to get married? Should we go? Would that mean that we are in favor of his choice? But if we don’t go, how would he and other people understand it?

My conclusion once again was that whatever my actions are, they have to be guided by love. Our youngest son had a hard time when Nick came out. He doesn’t support gay marriage. Instead his sister couldn’t understand how we could be against it. She asked us, “Don’t you want Nick to be happy?” I tried to explain that this was not the case at all, but that in my faith tradition the word “marriage” means a bond between man and woman.

So far, that situation hasn’t come up. Nick was in a relationship with a man for several years. His boyfriend drank heavily, and during that time Nick also drank more than was good for him. We were worried, and I made it clear that I was not in favor of the relationship — not because he was gay, but because it wasn’t a healthy relationship.
Eventually, Nick broke up with his boyfriend. He would call me very often, crying because he hurt so much. It was his first relationship, and he told me, “I really thought I was going to marry him.”

I listened to him and tried to be there for him. Then I asked God to guide me in giving him the best advice, all the while thinking of what I might have told him if it were a woman who made him suffer. I was grateful too that while he knows where I stand about gay marriage he nevertheless felt comfortable enough to ask me for help.

Things are not always easy. My mother-in-law guessed that Nick is gay, wondering why such a handsome guy doesn’t have a girlfriend. She wasn’t happy, but asked us not to tell her husband, who is 93. “It would kill him,” she said.
Nick, who is a very caring person, is the one who is always looking after his grandparents and helping them.
Since the break-up with his boyfriend, Nick hasn’t had another relationship. I try to be close to him.

Both he and his sister had told me in their mid-twenties that they didn’t believe in God anymore, but I have hope that God will find his way to re-enter their lives.


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