Parenting Lessons From Kirk Cameron's Anti-Gay Comment

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Parenting Lessons From Kirk Cameron's Anti-Gay Comment [EXPERT]
The teen idol reacts to homosexuality and what he would say if one of his own kids came out.

Hearing Kirk Cameron on CNN's Piers Morgan's show discussing his beliefs that homosexuality is "unnatural" "detrimental" and "ultimately destructive" is disappointing to say the least. Watching your teen idol fall from grace is never easy. As one friend told me on Twitter, "@melanie360 take the Kirk poster off the bedroom wall." She's right; this Kirk Cameron is not one I admire. I take no personal issue with his devout beliefs, but what appalls me are his comments about how he would handle it if one of his own children were gay. What Is Behind Kirk Cameron's Antigay Remarks?

In response to Pier's question of, "how would you handle it if one of your six children says, 'bad news Dad, I'm gay?" Cameron replied, "I wouldn't say that's great son as long as you're happy. I'm going to say you know there are all sorts of issues we have to wrestle through in life and just because you feel one way doesn't mean you should act on everything you feel." 

Does he really think he would simply "talk them out of it"!? In a world where it is challenging for most people to create a healthy, sustainable relationship, the last thing a child needs is the judgment and shame from their parents if they realize they are gay. Get Comfortable With Yourself And Sex [Video]

What is the actual impact of a parental response like Cameron's?

The impact is shame; feeling inadequate, less than, isolated, misunderstood, and the growing belief that love is actually a conditional emotion. Shame is an incredibly powerful emotion for anyone to navigate through, let alone someone in the vulnerable position of exploring their own personal identity. 

We've seen a lot of discussions about shame in the media this week related to the Sandra Fluke story. Rush Limbaugh's attempts to shame her sexual behavior and choices are at the core of the public's backlash against him. It's one thing to poke fun at someone; it's an entirely different thing to attempt to publically shame someone. Ronae Jull, author and life coach, defines shame as, "the feeling that I am wrong/bad and don't deserve respect or kindness." The Power Of Intentions: Thriving Through Divorce

As she discusses in her article on the power of shame, "every woman who has been raised with put-downs knows what shame feels like. Every woman who has been in an abusive relationship (and even some who wouldn't classify their relationship as 'abusive') knows what shame feels like. Sometimes it's the little things: jokes about your weight or body shape, little comments about how your needs are not important, dismissals of your opinions and so on. Sometimes it's big things: name calling and labels ('You're just a slut,' 'What do you expect with a past like yours?') or public putdowns and attacks like those received by Fluke."

Parental shame and judgment

When the parent passes shame and judgment to their child, the impacts last far longer. Rick Clemons, The Coming Out Coach, shared this: "Coming out is a scary, exciting, horrifying, and curious experience. When a parent passes judgment right out of the gate, it only leads to the root of the problem in the gay community — shame, self-doubt, and lack of confidence. The ensuing behavior for many gay men is then running to drugs, random sex, and alcohol to rid themselves of the feelings of 'less than." Is Low Self-Esteem Hurting Your Relationship?

No parent wants to think of their well-intentioned parenting as being behind the emotional turmoil their children face. But in cases like this, it can have a lifelong impact. Whether someone decides to be gay or whether they're born that way is something that people have hotly debated for decades. Today, most agree that there's more nature than nurture at play. 

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Melanie Gorman

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Melanie Gorman, M.A.

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