This was first published on KSL.COM
Our son was raised in the LDS faith and he has chosen to go the other direction and be in a same-sex relationship. What can we do as parents in this situation? He has gone so far as to take his name off the records of the church. Can you tell us how to help?
There are some ideas, perspectives and tips, which may help you to experience less fear and more peace around this situation.
1) Work on your fears of failure and loss. You must work on eliminating your fears, because fear makes you selfish and incapable of love and love is the path to peace in this situation. The following points should help you experience less fear and clearly see what a love based approach could look like.
2) Remember human value is infinite and absolute. We are all irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind, infinitely and absolutely valued, divine, children of God — all of us — without exception. We all have the exact same intrinsic worth as everyone else, no matter our beliefs, religion, race, sexual orientation or anything else. This means that your child and his life and choices don’t affect your value or his. You are not a failure and have no reason to experience shame about this. Everything that happens is just a lesson on love, but none of the lessons diminish your value. If you remember this idea you will have less fear of failure (fear that you aren’t good enough).
3) The real point and purpose for our being on this planet is to learn love at a deeper level. Everything God has inspired, created or allowed to be created here is here is meant to teach you, grow you and stretch you past your comfort zone, expanding the limits of your love. God created this universe and all the people in it with many interesting differences (including race, religion, culture, ideology, sexual orientation). Everyone on the planet is here (in the classroom of life) to both learn to love and to teach love. Situations like yours challenge you to stretch beyond the limits of your previous loving abilities, they help you learn love at whole new level.
If you trust the process of your life and see everything as a lesson, you will have less fear of loss. You will accept your journey as your perfect classroom and not resist this experience as much. If you embrace the lesson as a beautiful opportunity to grow, you will find peace.
4) Whatever you do, don’t let fear divide you or push you away from your child. Make sure your love is bigger than your fear. God created all of us the way we are for a reason. Your job (with this now adult child) is to love, be compassionate, open, accepting and kind. This means embracing your son and his partner too, like you would any other child in your home. Spend the same amount of time with them, listen to them, care about them and don’t let the differences get in the way.
If you have trouble with this and your fears of failure or loss overpower you, I highly recommend working with a coach or counselor, who can help you reframe and lessen your fears.
5) Remember love means respect. You can’t have real love without it. When someone has different beliefs than yours, respect means treating them the same way you would treat someone who agrees with you. You must honor their right to believe what they believe and respect their own path to goodness and God.
6) Love means caring for their needs and happiness as much as you care about your own. What your child needs right now is acceptance, support, validation of his worth, and reassurance. Giving him these must be a priority over his meeting your expectations. Trust God that all will be fine in the end, and if it’s not fine - it’s not the end. Trust that the God you believe in is loving and full of grace, wisdom and forgiveness. Trust you have nothing to fear because God is the author of everything.
7) Give up your need to be right. If you insist on taking the stand that your path is right and his is wrong, you will not leave space for a good relationship. You can believe that you are right in your mind — but you must focus outwardly on the beautiful, loving, kind, compassionate, hard working (or whatever other virtues your child has) person your child is. Remember that though he is rejecting your religion, he is not rejecting goodness, love or light. Just because he isn’t on your religion’s definition of the right path, he is still a loving, kind, giving person whom God loves every bit as much as he loves you.
The bottom line is you must lose your fears through trust and love, and make sure your child feels respected, admired, appreciated and wanted every day. If you do this you will also like yourself better too. I promise it will feel right.
Love without condition, listen without intention and care without expectation. This is the way to peace.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of claritypointcoaching.com. She is the author of the book "Choosing Clarity: The Path to Fearlessness" and a popular life coach, speaker and people skills expert.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.