Sunday, December 25, 2011

Parent Talk: Home for the Holidays

 

 

 

December 23, 2011

Parent Talk: Home for the Holidays

Home for Christmas 2011

My husband and I will be celebrating at home with our 4 dogs this year. All of our married children are now living out of state and for the first time we won't have the opportunity to see our grandchildren for Christmas. We are looking forward to a visit from our youngest son and grand dogs after the holidays. As children grow up and move away, we find our lives change also and time with family is precious.

The Visitor

For many of our readers, having a child or loved one bring home a gay friend or partner can be a challenge. I've received calls from anxious families asking what to do if a gay loved one wants to bring home a partner and how should they respond. There are no magic answers, but I can offer some advice and a few guidelines:

  • Make time to discuss with your spouse what your expectations are and ways you can support each other during the visit. Discuss and decide what you are comfortable with in respect to preparing children, family members, and friends.
  • Before addressing anyone about a loved one's life style, discuss with him or her what their thoughts are and find a place of comfort for all.
  • Address sleeping arrangements. You wouldn't let opposite-sex friends share a room. 
  • Discuss how to introduce the partner and what your comfort zone and house rules are.
  • Plan to attend events, do some site seeing, play games, watch movies, and ask the partner what they enjoy doing during the holidays.
  • Try to avoid the subject of SSA. You can ask how they met and simple questions you'd ask any guest. If you freeze or ask a question that sparks a negative reaction you can say I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend. This is new to us and we are trying to understand.
  • During your loved one's visit, there will be times when feel like you're on shaky ground and that's ok. It's new to them also, so they may be on edge as well. Treat this as an opportunity to learn about the person your loved one cares for.

Ben's Story

As a volunteer for the Humane Society, last year I took in a stray black lab that was very ill. I braved the beginning of a heavy snow, driving 35 miles to rescue Ben. The next morning, my husband and I decided Ben's life was in danger so we made the long trip knowing we were expecting 10 inches of snow to get Ben to the vet. We were told that Ben had little chance of surviving. He was 30 lbs. under weight, had pneumonia, heartworm disease, and complications caused by lack of proper medical care.

 

We believed there was something special about Ben--his gentle spirit and willingness to please. So we pursued treatment. God intervened, and after 6 months of treatment, Ben is a healthy, happy dog and we decided to adopt him. On one of Ben's follow-up visits to the vet for a check-up, I noticed a flier seeking dogs to train to become Therapy Dogs to be used in the local area. My calendar already on overload, so why not add yet another item to the list?

 

Ben, my husband, and I attended the testing for the Therapy Dog and AKC Good Citizen program. Ben passed all of the tests. Somewhere in Ben's past, he had received professional training. Ben qualified and became a licensed Therapy Dog and AKC Good Citizen. Ben and I visit elementary schools that have a special reading program for children and a program for special needs children. On Mondays, we visit assisted living facilities. The seniors enjoy having a dog come to visit and enjoy talking about their former pets.

 

This past week, God brought me unexpected joy--a reminder that there are beautiful moments in life if we keep our eyes open. Ben and I were attending a special reading class when a little boy came over and sat on the floor next to Ben. As though Ben knew this child needed a little love, Ben put his head in the child's lap. The little boy was so excited he read his entire book to Ben.

 

Later that day, Ben and I visited with the special needs children. One little boy is autistic. Shane never speaks and yet he always wants to pet Ben. Last week, Shane would walk around the room, then come back to pet Ben. I was watching and smiling at Shane as he kept coming back to pet Ben. Then Shane shocked us all. He sat down by Ben and hugged Ben repeatedly and then gave me a high five! This is major progress for a child who doesn't communicate. This made my day--a special gift from God. While many of us are concerned and worried about our gay loved one, families like Shane's have not given up hope and their walk is much more difficult than ours. Ben will continue to visit with Shane on Tuesday afternoons and we believe Shane will continue to respond to Ben.


Ben's photo taken after his visit with Shane. Ben seems quite proud. Proverbs 12:10 "A righteous man cares for his animals."

 

Bringing joy to others is our greatest gift. At this time of the year, we also need to remember to give thanks to God for his precious gift--His Son, Jesus Christ.  

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year.

Regina


 

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