In the daily morning show, Good Morning Club, which I co-host daily on TV5, we recently discussed an interesting topic: What should a parent do if the child shows early signs of being gay?
It was a sensitive topic handled with care. My co-hosts Edu Manzano, Amy Perez, Chiqui Roa-Puno and I shared the same view: That gayness is not a plague. That if one of our sons turns out to be gay, we were unanimous in saying that â€œWe shall accept and love our sons just the same, just as much.â€
For this article, I sought the expertise of family counselor and Trio Tagapayo of Amyâ€™s Face to Face, noted psychologist Dr. Camille Garcia, who answered the frequently asked questions (FAQs).
What are the early signs? Iâ€™ve read that when a two- or three-year-old plays with girlâ€™s toys, that doesnâ€™t necessarily mean he is gay since that is just the â€œcuriosity phase.â€ Is this true? At what age will the signs of true â€œgaynessâ€ come out?
Dr. Camille: â€œOthers may say that doing something effeminate is already a sign of gayness like playing with female toys, being effeminate in some ways, etc. Remember the child, at this age, does not know the girl-boy gender yet. Itâ€™s up to the parents to make the child be aware of his/her gender: 'Ikaw ay babae, siya ay lalaki.â€™
â€œTrue gayness comes out at pubertal stage. (It is when the child desires or has a crush on the same sex.) What is wrong with some parents is encouraging the behavior. Itâ€™s like when a parent says, 'Kung ano ang binigay sa amin ng Diyos tatanggapin namin.â€™
â€œRemember ang binigay ng Diyos na anak is a girl or boy. A six-year-old can already identify his/her gender. Good parenting structures the right role of a person.
â€œWhat creates the reinforcement of the said behavior is when parents allow the thinking (e.g., â€˜Sige anak, ok naman na maging bakla ka, tatanggapin ka namin.â€™)â€
Should parents be alarmed and arrest the situation? Or encourage it?
Dr. Camille: â€œArrest the situation, â€™yun ang tama. But most parents encourage the situation. Tatanggapin agad. Letâ€™s be moral in making the child understand the situation, di ba yun ang dapat. We tell our child, â€˜Anak, mali ito.â€™â€
How should the parents address this? Some parents resort to threat and extreme military-style punishment. Some parents go to great lengths to explain to the child the consequences of being gay, so that the child can think, then make a choice.
Dr. Camille: â€œThreat and punishment encourage the child more to do things wrongly, because you are shutting off the situation. Make sure you discuss with your child openly. â€˜Alam mo anak, hindi namin gusto yung ginugusto mo.â€™
â€œExplain that he is a boy and therefore, as boys, they grow up as men and their partners are women. â€˜Hindi kasi tama ang makasama sa buhay at magpapamilya ay parehas na lalaki. Kung ayaw mo itama ang ginugusto mo, hindi namin matatanggap yun.â€™
â€œThings can be discussed fully. At least you have attempted to talk it out with your child, explaining the moral and complex implication of what he likes. Remember you can have effeminate ways, but you never desire men. Yun yung emphasis ng pagtuturo sa bata. After pubertal stage, itâ€™s a different story.â€
Why is being gay still considered a shame for conservative families, even now that we are living in modern times that gays are accepted in our society? Gays (both male and female) are contributing well to our society, in different professional fields.
Dr. Camille: â€œMost families still cannot accept the fact that something went wrong with their parenting. They feel that something is not right â€” moral issues are always part of the issues, especially to the Christian and close family ties. â€œTraditions and culture as well are still part of the family structure that greatly influences their views regarding homosexuality.
â€œRemember, since child rearing and proper parenting are part of oneâ€™s holistic disposition, the lifestyle and preference he will choose is considered to be part of what a parent has nurtured and instilled in him.â€
Is being gay really a lifestyle choice? Or genetically influenced?
Dr. Camille: â€œThe genetic predisposition is there but if from the start it is corrected, maiaayos. Remember, genetic predisposition. Hindi minana, na at the start bakla siya. Ipinanganak siyang lalaki o babae. Ikaw na magulang ang mag aayos at magtuturo. Thus, the lifestyle and preference become prevalent rather than the genetic factors. This is the most Christian and appropriate explanation I can give.â€
I thank Dr. Camille for her expertise and for shedding light on this sensitive topic.
As a mom who has a three-year-old son named Nio, my personal take on the matter is this: Nio, when curious, plays with his big sisterâ€™s toys. But we always point it out to him that those are toys for girls, and these are toys for boys. We compare toys so that he will understand.
Before he turned three, he was fully aware and could already distinguish the girlsâ€™ toys from the boysâ€™ toys. We realized that playing with his big sisterâ€™s toys is his loving way of bonding and playing with his Ate Antonia. When big sister is not around, Nio doesnâ€™t touch the girly toys.
Apart from toys, he chooses what clothes and shoes to wear, and his choices are very masculine. I think the presence of a dominant male figure in our home, that is Julius my husband, is a great factor why Nio is very much male. They play rough games such as boxing, kiddie baseball, sword fights, wrestling and the like. I think that activities such as these will help establish the childâ€™s gender role.
I am simply talking from experience, having a young son, a three-year-old.
Now, if you ask me â€” what if my son grows up to be gay? I will not encourage. But will I accept? A mother will always accept her child. A mom may not agree with all of her childâ€™s choices or preferences, but in the end, being a kind human being is more important than what your gender is.
We do our best as parents. We guide our children based on societal norms while balancing what is personally and morally acceptable to our own families. But once they are adults and choose to live life a certain way, it is their choice, and along with it, the consequences.
A parent must be there to support and love their children all the way, no matter what. We all deserve to be happy and free.
We are all children of God, and in the end, regardless of gender, it is God who will judge us.
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