Can imprints from family of origin alter a child’s sexuality? What should parents do when a child “comes out” [as gay] at 22 years old?
Yes, the child’s experience in the formative years will affect all of their decisions for the rest of their lives. For the first two years of the child’s life all of the relational and emotional experiences are stored in the right side of the brain in non verbal memories called implicit memories. When the child becomes verbal, experiences are stored as both implicit and explicit memories on both sides of the brain, the right side holding the memories that can be retrieved and explained verbally i.e. “I remember that we went to Disneyland when I was four years old.”
Let’s say that a great big Goofy character came up and scared the child, they would also remember non verbal implicit discomfort in their body, so that when they are seven, they can’t seem to explain to mom and dad why they are scared and hesitant to return to the happiest place on earth. The implicit memory of discomfort could actually cause the child to start crying, throw the family day into a tail spin and end up going to Knott’s Berry Farm instead. The child’s choices and preferences were shaped by a body memory (implicit) that has tremendous power over the child for many years to come.
So, lets say that a child grows up in a home where they are exposed to an ominous mom or dad that has caused fear both implicitly and explicitly… will this affect their choices when they grow older? Absolutely! I have had men with bad mother experiences and women with bad dad experiences tell me that they don’t want to be around someone of the opposite sex.
When Christian’s vilify people making sexual choices that do not square with God’s instruction without sitting down to understand life through their eyes, we are missing opportunities to connect with the person on meaningful levels. Here are several things you can do to be more effective in helping your family member.
- Always ask them to share about their lives, their hopes dreams, fears and places of reactivity. Empathy for painful childhood experiences is vital for relationships to grow and have relational credibility.
- If you are the parent that has been the threatening, absent or abusive factor within their lives, own your sin and apologize. Realize that forgiveness will take time and the rebuilding of trust will take even longer. You can’t talk yourself out of something you’ve behaved your way into.
- Always start with the Gospel, coming to Christ as Savior is the most important issue.
- As we begin to grow in Christ, we all must submit our wills to our Heavenly Father. No matter what our propensities or sexual preferences, or as some assert, genetic predispositions or confusions, we must learn to check that at the door as we choose to live for Christ. I Corinthians 6:9-11 states: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, not adulterers, nor effeminate nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” “But I grew up with Gypsies who were master pick pockets… it’s all I know.” Check it at the door… same with all the other issues listed as well.
- Be patient and take the long view with respect to trying to win them… it took along time to encode their explicit and implicit memories.
Thanks for listening.
Milan and Kay
You [Milan] said that you had lots of thoughts come to your mind but you had to learn to control it. Please explain how.