I want to talk about something today, folks. You probably guessed it from my title, because I didn’t make any attempt to camouflage it. Validation. Specifically the definition: to recognize or affirm the worth of a person or their feelings or opinions. Let me start out by saying that I am completely aware of the fact that validation isn’t necessary, and that sometimes seeking it makes one feel worse about him/herself than just being content, regardless of others’ thoughts on the matter. However, as this topic specifically pertains to my boys – Jose, now almost 9, and Squishy, rapidly approaching 6 – I have to say that I am getting REALLY tired of people in their lives only deigning to offer validation (or finding it necessary to pass uninvited judgment) as long as I’m made aware of one *VERY IMPORTANT* (said with supreme sarcasm on my part) thing:
Their likes/dislikes, desires, dreams, activity choices, etc. may indicate that **gasp** (horror of horrors) they might possibly be gay or fall somewhere on the spectrum not strictly in the MANLY MEN camp.
You know, yeah – maybe that’s true. Maybe as they get older, they will come to me and let me know that they believe that to be the case about themselves. But guess what? And I’m speaking to BOTH (or should that be all?) sides here: THERE IS NOT ONE DAMN THING WRONG WITH THEM IF THEY ENJOY LIVING THE WAY THEY DO AND THEY ARE STRAIGHT, AS WELL. When did it become a rule that nail painting, wanting to do mommy’s hair & makeup, loving My Little Pony, being disappointed we’re not getting the new Tinker Bell movie RIGHT NOW, playing dress up & dancing in a tutu, participating in gymnastics, choosing pink as a favorite color or Queen Elsa as a favorite character, wearing a headband or hair clips – any of these things (or more) – are exclusive privileges awarded only to boys who may be gay/bi/anything other than cismale?
If you are the well meaning more-liberal-than-I friend/family member who sits me down and gently discusses with me the possibility that my son may turn out to be gay in order to give me time to “prepare for that future” and, “What would you do if that were the case?”: thank you, but I really wouldn’t change a damn thing. If they’re gay (etc.) then they’re gay. It will not change how much I love them, my wants, wishes, and desires for them to have a blessed life, whether or not they are welcome in my home, etc. Pretty much all of you know that I am a moderately conservative Christian, so yes, I hold certain biblical beliefs that I may wrestle with regarding the topic, but none of that will change the fact that Jose and Squishy are MY SONS. They were given to me by our Creator God and I do not for one second doubt that He is in ultimate control of everything. So why would I need to worry and fret (which the Bible specifically labels as sin, by the way) about something that was never mine to be anxious over in the first place?
If you are the concerned more-conservative-than-I friend/family member who sits me down and lovingly states that hubby & I need to take a firmer hand in the choices our sons make, because in letting them make their own decisions more often than not, we are letting them choose a slippery slope: I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. There is not one single passage in the Bible that leads me to believe in any way, shape, or form that ANY of the choices our sons have made that we have allowed/upheld are ungodly or sinful. They are CHILDREN. They are supposed to explore & discover, lead by us and their other guardians, and Jose wearing leg warmers to ballet class or Squishy loving & wanting to keep his long hair is not going to create something in them that wasn’t there to begin with. It just doesn’t happen that way. And you know, I have to say that the Jesus I read about in the Bible isn’t someone who beat up on his disciples, watched porn, and fired assault rifles to prove his manliness to those around him. So when you tell me that I need to “toughen up my boys” and “let them be men,” I have to wonder if you’d have told Mary the same thing? And in case you’re worried about their spiritual relationship with God, don’t. You recall that time when Christ displayed anger in a physical manner – like we expect men to do – turning over the tables in the temple and kicking everyone out in righteous indignation for the mockery made of his Father’s house? I can GUARANTEE you that Jose & Squishy would be more than happy to participate in that sort of “manly” activity on God’s behalf. They love the Lord deeply and fully and the suggestion that they can’t possibly be true Men of God if they enjoy traditionally “female” things is ludicrous.
And if you’re the snooty, judgmental, self-righteous person on either side of this debate who wants to look down your nose at me because I’m CLEARLY screwing my kids up for life: leave. Seriously. We don’t need you in our lives. To the room mother surprised that my Christian-school-attending son would be in gymnastics, last time I checked, the entire male Olympic gymnastics team wasn’t gay (and you know damn well you’d still watch the Olympics and root for them, even if they were, so please keep your hypocrisy to yourself). To the former friend who joked how I was going to be so lucky to have shopping buddies to keep me up to date on current fashions when my boys are older (because **wink, wink, nudge, nudge** they’re obviously going to be open to that sort of thing given their proclivities), how dare you? You grew up feeling like you couldn’t be yourself because of how others might judge you and you were terrified to come out, but you automatically pigeonhole my boys because they make effeminate choices sometimes? Isn’t that JUST as bad?
So please, if you are going to give validation for my boys choices, give it because you love them. Because it makes them happy. Because they enjoy what they’re doing. Etc. Don’t only validate them because you think they’re going to need the support. Don’t only validate them because you think you know what their future holds. And don’t WITHHOLD validation from them because you think the choices we have allowed them to make aren’t “manly” enough, especially for “good Christian boys.” And if you can’t deal with these guidelines, then please just keep it to yourself. We don’t need, or want, false validation or self-righteous judgment. Modifying Thumper’s Rule here a bit: “If you don’t have anything nice and genuine to say, don’t say anything at all.” Because it’s gotten old.