In this chapter we turn from a focus on the threats to children which arise from factors outside of the home to the very personal question of how a parent's actions and character can influence a child. Our message might seem old-fashioned or out-of-step with the permissive "baby boomer" generation, yet we believe it will ring true for today's young parents. The dismal results are in on America's permissive attitudes about sex and morality and we believe that young families are looking for something more substantial to build upon. We offer here some tried and true suggestions from earlier times in American culture, yet we offer them with some hesitancy, knowing that post-'60s cultural leaders have worked very long and hard to discredit these ideas. However, if we hope to protect our children from "gay" recruitment we must adopt more family-friendly ways of thinking. We can start by questioning the assumptions about sex and morality which we have been conditioned to accept by the popular culture. Lets face it, after more than 30 years of sexual "revolution," we've all been conditioned to some degree. Nowhere is this more evident than in our reaction to the idea of moral purity.
Being a good parent is essentially the same as being a good person; a person of virtue. The meaning and the importance of virtue have been somewhat obscured in our morally relativistic society, but basically, virtue is moral excellence and abstinence from vice. Words like virtue and vice, purity, fidelity and chastity seem archaic, even uncomfortable, to modern Americans. Indeed, such terms have fallen almost entirely from common speech except as objects of ridicule, used in the same way that we use the word "goody-goody." What is it about the idea of moral innocence or uprightness that engenders such resentment among "sophisticated" people? Without even having thought about why they do, many people now share this cynicism towards the idea of moral purity. If we did think about it, though. who among us would honestly not prefer to marry a virgin, or to have an absolutely, unquestionably faithful spouse as a lifetime partner? Is there anyone who would not prefer a business associate of impeccable honesty, or a family doctor, lawyer or accountant whose integrity is beyond question? Putting it another way, would we want to live in a society without people who posses the virtuous qualities that we often mock today? Is it a good sign for our culture (or for our own character) that we do mock them? We need simply point out that as the love of virtue fades, the lure of vice (in all of its forms) grows stronger.
Our Dual Nature
In generations past, Western societies recognized that human beings have a lower nature and a higher nature. The lower nature was associated with selfish appetites and animalistic behavior. The higher nature was associated with altruism and civility. Robert Louis Stevenson's story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, was written to contrast these two inescapable dimensions of human character. The goal of Western civilization has always been to help people to attain greater refinement of character and to overcome their selfish and animalistic tendencies. In America today, however, we seem to have weakened our commitment to uplifting humanity, both corporately and individually, and instead have increasingly embraced coarseness and moral degeneracy. What has been the result? With each passing year the American profile looks a little less like the gentleman, Dr Jekyll, and a little more like the beast, Mr. Hyde.
The decline of civility affects us all. As a parent, however, you have the option of limiting its effects in your home by consciously working to improve your own character and that of your child, instead of "going with the flow" of society.
We cannot stress too strongly that we are convinced that a child's best hope for happiness (and his best chance to escape "gay" recruitment) is in living a life of moral uprightness: a life of honesty, integrity and generosity; a life of sexual innocence in youth and sexual faithfulness in marriage. We are aware that these achievements aren't easy; many people have begun to think of them as completely out of reach. A person must first believe that these things are worth having, and then work diligently to achieve them, conquering the powerful temptations and distractions of his own lower nature along the way. The greatest advantage a child can possess in this struggle is to have virtuous parents. On the other hand, the one thing which will rob a child of all enthusiasm for morality is a parent's cynicism. We pointed out earlier that a parent does not need to be morally "spotless" in order to promote the importance of good moral character to his child; he can start by simply believing in that ideal. The next logical step is to work towards making his life conform more closely to the ideal. A child will never fail to be deeply impressed by his parent's sincere efforts to live a better life, though he probably won't talk about it.
Self-improvement is just a process of acknowledging what is true and good and bringing your life into alignment with it. It is a lifelong process, and one which will never meet with complete success. It will bring you into conflict with your lower nature, and sometimes with others around you. But it will also create a roadmap for your child, and it will enable him to respect and trust you. One way to begin is to make a list of virtuous qualities and measure yourself against it every so often, seeing where you have and haven't come closer to your ideal. Benjamin Franklin, that remarkable Founding Father, statesman, newspaperman and inventor, followed such a procedure during his life, and even kept a self-improvement diary.
Along with the self-centeredness of our society has come a view of children as burdens to be endured, rather than treasures to be cherished. American society has given birth to a major industry, day care, whose sole purpose is to warehouse children for working parents. In today's economic climate many parents feel that they have no other choice but to earn two incomes, placing their kids in day care. What factors created this problem? Starting in the ‘60s, many women left the home and their primary role as full-time moms to enter the work force, believing that they would reap personal fulfillment as well as the additional income to improve the economic status of their families. Market forces soon drove up housing and other family costs in response to the buying power of two-parent working families. Taxation at all levels also rose steadily. Now families virtually require two wage earners to provide what once could be provided by only one. Those who choose to keep one parent at home to raise their children must often sacrifice financially to do so.
Parents caught in this double bind tend to bring their attitudes in line with their necessity: they justify working by reasoning that they can "give" their children more. We now have a society in which couples are willing to trade their children's daily home-life for what they perceive as a higher standard of living. Such a trade-off reveals a great blindness among American parents to the richness and fulfillment which accrues to each member of a truly family-centered home.
A corollary of this attitude is the notion that family time is not nearly so fulfilling as "personal time" and individual pursuits. Helped along by constant media messages (consider images of family life in "The Simpsons"), this belief holds that families are just a collection of individuals who occupy the same space, and who would all prefer to be off doing their own thing. In fact, they would be much better off doing so, if we believe the depictions of intra-family disrespect, inconsiderateness and conflict in the sitcoms. We have known even stay-at-home moms who spend most of every day ferrying children to school, sports, lessons, clubs, parties and entertainment events -- an endless string of non-family activities which eat up every moment of potential family time -- and feel that the high point of the day is getting a moment for their own personal pursuits, or simply time alone.
What we criticize here is not people's individual hobbies and interests, but the attitude that devalues the fun and irreplaceable experiences of family life in favor of exclusively individual interests. Remember that this book seeks to offer solutions to a psychosexual disorder that is often rooted in missing or inadequate family connections. How can any family member make those deep and necessary connections, indeed even enjoy life fully, if he is left out or pushed out of his family to find fulfillment?
Once again, fathers are often the big losers in this scenario. When a father defines himself primarily as breadwinner and spouse, or as fill-in-support-parent for his working wife, he has defined himself out of the most important role in his life. How often do we hear the term "baby-sitting" used to describe the periods of time when fathers watch their children? A father isn't "baby-sitting" at such times, he is parenting!
Moms and dads should reject both the "me-first" and the "every-man-for-himself" mind-sets of our society and embrace their family relationships with pleasure and enthusiasm. In a healthy family the time spent with a spouse and children offers much more in the way of happiness and personal satisfaction than any consumer product does. What is more, a parent's investment in a child offers a continuing, valuable return, as a child grows over the years from a baby to a playmate to a protégé to a friend and hopefully, along the way, to a fellow parent, widening the circle of joy yet further by bringing grandchildren into the family. How quick we are to accept the splitting apart of the natural family into merely individual and self-centered components. How quick we are to accept fool's gold when we have genuine treasure in our families.
We continue this chapter with some words of wisdom from Alan Medinger, a leader in the homosexual recovery movement. The following is taken from an article called "How to Raise a Heterosexual Child" from Regeneration News. Alan's group, Regeneration, is a Christian ministry organization and thus his article has a Christian emphasis, but the principles which it identifies apply to families of all faiths.
"If only…" – two of the saddest words in the English language....Often, they come from a parent who sees how he could have treated that one child a little differently, and perhaps homosexuality might never have been an issue. We can't go back and live our lives over again, and if we are parents of grown children, it is not likely we will be parents again, so with the Lord's help we deal as best we can with the reality that is. But, in a ministry like Regeneration, we can do some prevention work. That opportunity comes when we get to address new parents or parents-to-be. This article is intended to be preventative; it is addressed to parents [and others] who have an influence on the development of a young child....I believe [that the following parenting guidelines] will foster a child's growing up with a healthy sexual identity....
A child, to a significant degree, takes his or her sexual identity through bonding with the same sex parent....Imagine the confusion that arises when the parents' roles are uncertain or indistinct, or worse, the object of control battles.
2. The father affirms his son in his maleness, and his daughter in her femininity.
We have all seen how the little boy bends his arm to show his dad his muscle. Implied is the plea, "Tell me I'm a man." Confidence in our manhood is a fragile thing in most men, gay or straight, but in the little boy in his formative years, the need to be affirmed in his manhood by the one who is his symbol of manhood, is vital. We have also seen how important the role of the father is in affirming the role of the daughter in her femininity. When she is his "little princess," when those things that make her distinctly feminine are valued by her father, then she herself starts to value being a woman. Affirmation is expressed in daily life when the parents show the expectation that the son or daughter will one day fulfill the defined male and female roles modeled by their parents. Thus, the father apprentices his son and the mother her daughter in "the things that we men (women) do".
3. The father is involved in the life of the family and exercises [leadership].
The book, Deadly Secrets, is a tragic account of a Christian man who died of AIDS after living in a secret homosexual life. What makes the book extraordinary is that it is based on journals the man started keeping in his early teens. Although he probably did not recognize the significance of his observation at the time, in several instances of family crisis, he described how his dad was "reading the paper". We encounter far more workaholic than alcoholic fathers among the men and women to whom we minister. Among men we encounter far more with a physically abusive father. "Dad was there, but not there," is the description of early life we hear over and over again. Involvement by the father in the life of the child is in itself a form of affirmation, and conveys worth to the child, not just as a person, but as a man or woman.
For the young girl, it is obvious how important this is. In showing love for his wife, the father creates the climate in which the little girl can believe it is safe and good to be a woman. Men can be trusted. For the boy, the father who loves the mother models what it is for a man to go beyond himself. The boy sees an example of a man free from the narcissism that is so common to male youths and characterizes the immaturity of so many grown men today. A man who loves his wife, and cherishes her and protects her, embodies masculine strength. The boy will want to model this.
5. The mother shows esteem for the father.
For the daughter, the mother's respect again shows that men are to be trusted; that it is good and safe to be a woman. The mother's view of the father can become her view of him – and her view of men in general. The boy is receiving messages from both parents, and his mother's view of the father will help shape his view of manhood. Perhaps even more important, a father who is belittled by the mother, whether he accepts it or fights back, provides a poor model for a young boy. A weak father who accepts contempt, or a father who fights back, can both lead the boy to choose to identify with the mother, more than with the father.
Although important in all parent-child relationships, this seems especially critical with mothers and sons. The process of growth into manhood for a boy is a series of creating and breaking bonds. Coming from the mother's body, the boy at first identifies with the mother. At some point he must break free from her and bond with the father, and eventually he breaks free from the father and becomes his own man. Sometimes the neediness of the mother does not allow the independence of the son to develop. Unhealthy bonds keep him tied to her, often as a best friend or substitute [for her] husband...
7. Both parents acknowledge [traditional] moral values.
...To apply moral values in the home is to provide a safe channel in which a child can grow, with the understanding that outside the channel lies danger. In a world that declares there are no absolutes and proclaims that real freedom is experienced by escaping from the restrictions of the past, the danger to our children is enormous. [Modern society tells] our children that homosexuality is a perfectly legitimate option, and so, without moral teaching in the home, it becomes simply one of the options they can choose, one that at some stages of development and in some situations might seem quite attractive....
ADVICE TO SINGLE PARENTS
A single parent faces special challenges in the struggle to protect a child from "gay" recruitment. Although some parents prefer not to believe it, a child invariably suffers emotional harm from the breakup of his family, hether from death, divorce or abandonment. This emotional trauma may make a child more vulnerable to recruitment. In addition, a single parent has less time, energy and resources than a married couple does and may therefore be less able to keep as close a watch over the child as is prudent. Every factor which threatens a child in an intact home is compounded in a broken home. On top of this, sexual predators are well aware of these facts and use them to their advantage. But don't lose hope! You can recruit-proof your child; it's just going to take some extra effort. There are a few basic rules.
This is a commonly-expressed rule for divorced parents, but one they usually find tough to follow. You must separate your feelings about your broken marriage relationship from your child's relationship with his mom or dad. Many divorced parents define their child's needs in ways that that justify their own hostile feelings and actions towards their estranged spouse. Understandably, they may have a hard time being objective, but that's no excuse for hurting their child. In the worst-case scenario, a parent will deliberately use a child to hurt the other parent. More commonly, the parent, transferring his own anger and pain onto the child, simply decides that the child is "better off" without having the other parent around. Try to help your child get the most out of his relationship with his other parent. If possible, work together with your ex-spouse to establish consistent rules and a coordinated parenting strategy to care for the child. Take some time, if necessary, to come to terms with the fact that you will be linked to your former spouse through your child for a lifetime. Sometimes, simply accepting this fact makes it easier to have the wisdom to do what's best.
In situations in which the child's same-sex parent is unavailable, find a replacement to substitute in the parental gender role (to do boy or girl things together). Many single parents get closer to their sibling's families so that the child can spend quality "gender-affirming" time with an uncle or aunt. Often a grandparent will fill in as a role model (in such a situation you may need to ask him or her to be more "parental" and less indulgent than a grandparent might otherwise be). Church families can be very valuable resources for single-parent families in many ways (if they are genuinely family centered -- watch out for pro-"gay" congregations). When forming connections with strangers (or even with friends and family members you don't know very well) on behalf of your child, be aware that sexual predators and others may take advantage of your situation to get close to your child for their own reasons. Be especially careful of youth-oriented organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Girl Scouts. The "gay" movement has infiltrated many of these organizations, which now allow homosexual leaders (although parents are often not informed of this). Boy Scouts has been very vigilant on this score.