Monday 27 March 2017

Dear Patricia: Our son has been viewing gay porn on my laptop

Patricia Redlich

MY son has been showing signs of being gay for some years now. He is 17, and it is becoming progressively more worrying for us, as he is accessing gay porn on my laptop. My husband and I are at pains to know what to do. We really want to do the 'right thing' by him, and, of course, our duty as parents.

We have confronted him on a number of occasions, sometimes in anger, and other times to try and gently get him to speak to us. He denies he's gay, but we still find the evidence to the contrary. If only he would open up to us. I know that others outside the family are aware of the situation, and he was badly bullied in earlier years at school. But he seemed to cope with it.

He is quite confident, very popular and happy with himself. My husband, I know, is hoping deep down that our son will come out of it, but I am less inclined to believe this. We love him very much.

He appears careless at times, leaving a trail of evidence behind him, and sometimes I feel he wants to control the situation by letting us know he's gay but wanting us to accept him without discussion. We do not want this to be the way things go. We feel that if this is his path, there will be still be rules -- and porn sites etc will not be acceptable to us as a family. Should we insist on some truth from him, or wait until he comes to us? I feel he will carry on, solely on his terms, unless we do something.

Patricia replies:

YOU do understand, don't you, that all of you are pussy-footing around? And in the process, you and your husband are undermining your authority as parents. You see, at a very important level, the question of your son being gay is in one sense irrelevant. This is about who calls the shots. So it could be alcohol or drugs, staying out late, money, or maintaining manners. The problem is the same. Parenting is not democratic. It is, at its very best, a benign dictatorship.

Quite rightly, you don't want porn, gay or straight, on your laptop. So why is it there? Talk about being in your face! Your son isn't just challenging your unhappiness about homosexuality -- not to mention your husband's secret wish that it isn't so -- he's challenging your authority.

So yes, you are right. He will carry on, solely on his terms, unless you do something. Probably without consciously planning it, he's playing on your uncertainty. Just think how different it would be if you said you didn't care whether he was gay or not, but you would not tolerate porn on your laptop; so it gets locked up (temporarily -- since you're not running a prison but a home); he gets some form of punishment for breaking a house rule, and you all get on with your lives.

It's simple to stop game-playing: you stop participating. That means being prepared to face reality. Just tell your son that you're tired of dodging the emotional tripwires, that you won't tolerate the breaking of house rules, and that you love him.

Don't look for the "big discussion". Ask him, instead, to talk to you straight when he feels he can. And prepare yourselves internally for whatever may come.

Sunday Independent

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