Posted by: Jordan | 2009/07/21

5 Year Old

Hi Doc. Hope you are well. I have a 5 year old boy (his brother is 18 soon) and he is the sweetest child. He is always laughing, joking, chatting to everyone. He loves hair but at the same time loves cars (Mercedes especially). In fact he is very knowledgable about cars. He loves to see what I' m gonna wear in the morning, jewellery, shoes and so forth. I am a single parent and his dad sees him for maybe an hour a week. Now the issue is his dad is so concerned that his boy is going to be gay and has now enrolled him in soccer classes. I think my son lacks confidence, he plays with girls at school and I think this is because he knows the boys will bully him cause they know he is sensitive. How do I build up his confidence. He is very comfortable with me but doesn' t seem to be at school. I' m very patient with him and I tend to give in to his hearts desires. Like for instance, I bought a wig for him because he loves hair so much but he won' t let anyone see him with it on especially big brother and dad. I find it very difficult to be very stern, I' m stern to an extent. Also I feel if he is gay then so what, he is still my boy and I love him unconditionally. He also could turn out to be the best hairdresser in SA, who knows. It doesn' t really phase me that he likes hair. But I need to know how to build up his confidence. Especially now if he is going to play soccer I think he will feel very uncomfortable.

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Our expert says:
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Gay is an inssue of sexual preference, and what turns one on sexually --- and no relation to other interests. Some gays are deeply interested in rugby, ber and braaivleis ; and some very red-blooded straight guys are hairdessers and fashion designers, etc. I saw some research that kids dismissed as "sissies" and with interests in dolls etc., were actually not much more likely to be gay than any other kid.
As you say, being gay is more common than most people think, and part of the usual range of ways of being alive. However, you may be right in recognizing the primary problem as one of confidence and having the freedom to choose playmates, hobbies, etc, withou being inhibited by timidity. A few sessions with a child psychologist could help him ( and give you specific advice ) on ways to improve his self-confidence and mix more widely and cheerfully with all sorts of other kids.
As Liza implies, unconditional love is outstanding. But he should be encouraged to still try a wider range of interests and pastimes, and maybe, especiall with the wig, you have been encouraging the Hair interests more than others. And I do agree that you are giving him a mixed message by effectively saying --- here's a wig ( how few girls of that age are given a wig ? ) --- play with it all you want, but don't let your father or brother see you doing it. "

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Our users say:
Posted by: 007Boer | 2009/07/21

If you are worried about your son being too effeminate, encourage him to play more with boys. This is obviously easier said than done, but soccer practise is a great start. I could also highly recommend Martial Arts, especially Kyukushin which is a very disciplined style. Martial Arts tends to aid greatly in developing a well-balanced young man, neither overly aggressive nor girly. Whether we like it or not, the world is a cruel place and acting like a hairdresser is going to cause major problems for your son in the not-so-distant future. Not least of which are the " let' s just be friends"  crap from girls in high school or being picked on by bullies. He needs to embrace both soft and hard if he is to grow up balanced. And you don' t just have to take my word for it, the great Plato said the same thing about wrestling and fine arts.

Reply to 007Boer
Posted by: Mum | 2009/07/21

It makes no difference whether your child is gay or not. I commend you on your open minded approach and attitude! You are an excellent mother and so what if he is gay? Who cares what other people think.

Reply to Mum
Posted by: Liza | 2009/07/21

I think that 5 years old is far to young to wonder about sexual orientation.

Your reaction to certain behaviours is the main way in which your son knows what behaviour is acceptable, and what is not.

Since you' re not reacting to certain things in a negative way, he sees it as acceptable. Television also teaches children as to what behaviour is acceptable and what not. This is why it' s important to adhere to censorship and age restrictions.

He might also have conflicting ideas about what is acceptable and what not - thus playing with the wig because according to him you find it acceptable, but not wanting to play with it in front of his brother because according to television he might gotten the idea that it isn' t acceptable.

Reply to Liza

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