‘To be and not to fix’: A mom shares the best parenting lesson she’s learned raising two sons

"The emotional intelligence and transparency I instilled in my sons to talk about their feelings brings me peace".

“The emotional intelligence and transparency I instilled in my sons to talk about their feelings brings me peace.”

Affected by a recently published letter from a mother who shared her son’s experience of bullying due to his sexual orientation, a News24 reader wrote to share her family situation in a letter of her own. She shares advice she hopes will help other parents raise their children to become the best version of themselves, regardless of their sexual orientation and her number one parenting rule. Read her letter below.

My son, now 24, came out in July 2020.

I remember the day so clearly when he invited me around for lunch and made the most amazing beef tail. I knew something was going on.

Eventually he sat me down (I could feel his fear, and somehow I knew what was coming), then he said, ‘Mom, I decided I liked men’. My answer was: ‘I know my child’.

I always knew and waited for the day he said that. I hugged him so tightly, knowing the courage it took to tell me.

Also read: ‘He’s been bullied since he was 10’ because he’s gay ‘- Local mother raising her son in a cruel society

‘Rejection and bullying’

He grew up with his father from the age of 13 and had his share of rejection and bullying when he grew up, including having his stepmother belittle him in front of her friends.

As much as I wanted to intervene, I realized it would only make it worse. I decided to give him the social and emotional tools to deal with it, such as advice on self-love and self-worth.

It seems to have helped, because since he came out, he has been rejected by his homophobic father and reluctant brother.

His father and stepfamily blocked him. It has been a long road, but it is getting better with the relentless and persevering spirit he has built up.

He now associates himself only with people who uplift him, and this has increased his self-esteem.

‘Maintain a positive balance’

My other son has always been an achiever.

Everything he touched turned to gold. It has always been difficult to maintain a positive balance between both my sons.

Understanding now from both points of view is not always easy.

See also: An essential life skill – why it is important to teach children self-love

‘The opportunity to help themselves’

Having two friends whose sons died by suicide because of their sexuality scares me every day.

With the knowledge of emotional intelligence and transparency, however, I instilled in my boys to talk about their feelings, bringing me peace.

The point here is to never make your children victims of their circumstances.

Help them through their problems rather than fix them. Give them the opportunity to help themselves and trust that they can do it.

As moms or dads we always want to fix things for our kids and think that’s what they want, but something both of my boys taught me is to be and not to fix.

We also want to protect them from bullies, horrible people, etc. the sad reality is that we as parents cannot.

We can only give them the skills to handle it ourselves.

It’s a cruel world out there!

‘Do not give advice, just an ear’

An important rule that I live by now, and when they call and need an ear: just listen.

Do not give advice, just an ear.

At the end of the conversation, they are relieved, ‘Thank you for listening, Mom, I love you’. It makes me shine with pride; through the talk they solved their own problem.

I hope it helps other parents to help their children become the best version of themselves, regardless of their sexual orientation or circumstances.

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