Given the myriad factors that affect a child’s gender identity, it is worthwhile to bring up a child in a manner that affirms his or her healthy gender identity. In doing so, collectively, we can counter the prevailing culture that seeks to normalize and, ultimately, promote homosexuality.
Promote an “open” atmosphere in your home. All children will have questions about sexuality. If they are hushed or mocked for even asking, they deduce that sex is off-limits for discussion and will seek out information from peers and the media that may be contrary to your values.
Give accurate information. Young children are unsure about what homosexuality is and isn’t. Assure them that it’s normal to have close same-sex friends and that you do, too. Encourage adolescents to discover their sexuality, not through sexual experimentation or pornography, but by explaining boy-girl relationships and coaching them through puberty. Ensure they know that same-sex infatuations do not make them homosexual.
Affirm your child’s gender by reinforcing gender-appropriate behaviour in them while expressing delight in their masculinity/femininity. It is important not to label a child as unmasculine/ unfeminine just because they have a stereotypically opposite-sex interest (e.g. where a boy enjoys ballet or where a girl is a good footballer), as a person’s masculinity or femininity transcends his or her interests. In other cases, children can sense if their parents wanted a child of the opposite sex instead and may (unconsciously) adopt opposite-sex behaviours and pursuits to gain approval and affection. Be discerning and respond appropriately.
Be generous with affection. Sons who are liberally hugged by their fathers will not have their sense of masculinity warped; in reality, they are less vulnerable to inappropriate touch from other men. Studies have found that “a constructive, supportive, warmly related father precludes the possibility of a homosexual son.”1
In reality, what I needed was… an affirming, character-modeling, loving relationship with my dad. In fact, that’s what my homosexual journey was always about – finding a man to love me. Sex was just the means to an end.
~Alan Chambers, author of “God’s Grace and the Homosexual Next Door”
Encourage identification with same-sex role models who embody your values. Single parents raising an opposite-sex child can help their child build relationships with trusted extended family members of the same sex as the child, such as aunts/uncles, cousins and grandparents.
Even though there is no ultimate guarantee how our children will make their sexual choices – whether it concerns premarital sex or homosexual behaviour – parents can proactively and intentionally inculcate a healthy gender identity in their children.2