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JimsHelpmeet

Age Appropriate Affection

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My stepson is almost 17 years old. My husband and his ex-wife divorced and she moved to another state when he was only two, so his step-father has been a daily presence in his life. Still, my husband has always made sure to provide for his son and go out of town to see him as often as work schedules and finances permit (usually four to five times per year). This summer we were in some better circumstances financially and with my husband's work schedule, so we were able to fly him up for a week to visit. Don't get me wrong, he's a good young man. He's polite and helpful, but I've noticed some behavior that I find odd, and my husband notices it as well, because he has mentioned it to me. 

 

Anyway, I'm just wondering what is normal affection for a boy this age to show his father, and should we establish some boundaries? My step-son is very effeminate (much to my husband's dismay) and is always wanting to hold my husband's hand like a boyfriend would hold his girlfriend's hand, interlocked fingers and all. Finally yesterday in the Army/Navy surplus store my husband had to shake his hand away and he said, "son, if you don't stop that, someone is going to think I'm some sort of gay pedophile." His son whined and said, "but I don't care!" He also wants to sit on the floor at my husband's feet and rub his head on his leg. My husband has come to me and said his level of affection and how "girly" it is makes him uncomfortable. Please bear in mind, my husband is a very affectionate man. He's not above a bear hug or a pat on the back or tousling the hair, but this very feminine, almost intimate sort of affection from his son is making him uneasy. 

 

He is also excessively clingy, even more so than he should be despite the fact that he isn't around his dad every day. The other day I told my husband I needed to speak with him in private for just a moment about a financial issue, and his son came bounding at his heels whining, "I don't like to be alone!" I was just like, "never mind. We'll talk about it later." To me, it just isn't normal for a young man, nearly a legal adult, to still be jealous and snuggling up to his dad every time he hugs me or wants to talk to me. And that's what he does. When my husband hugs me, his son comes rushing over and rubs his head on my husband's arm and whimpers like a love sick puppy.

 

Are my husband and I just being insensitive, or are we right not encouraging this effeminate behavior? I never want to discourage affection, but I feel once a teenage son or daughter or showing the sort of affection one would show their spouse it is crossing a line. Are we in the wrong here? 

Edited by JimsHelpmeet

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It sounds like the boy needs some possible professional help. My opinion is either that he is gay (in which case these days there's probably not a whole lot you can do about that) or that he's had psychological difficulties from the broken home or from where he lives. I know my sister in law lived a rough life and had her kids taken away, and they say that they are several years "behind" emotionally....they are considered adults (20 or so) but they still act like younger teenagers in how they behave. I guess it's from the trials they had growing up.

If there's any sort of speaking relationship with his mother, maybe you guys could find out if he considers himself gay or if he is having other issues where counseling would be in order.

Sorry you're going through this....

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Thank you for taking the time to read my post and reply. Right now he's currently in therapy, because his mother is in therapy. She and my husband are on as pleasant of terms as possible, but she's not altogether stable mentally. She's not a horrible person, by any stretch, but she tends to be a pathological liar about things if she feels it will gain her some sympathy, so getting a straight story from her would be nearly impossible. The one my husband should probably speak with would be the step-father. He's on good terms with my husband. He's in law enforcement and is a nice guy. He's always doing nice things for the boy and is really involved in the stuff he's doing at school and his extra curricular activities. 

 

The worst part is that my husband feels like it's somehow his fault, because of the divorce, although I've known lots of teens who came from a divorced home who didn't act quite like this. Plus, my step-son can't even remember when my husband and his mother were together it was so long ago. All he's known is the situation now. My husband did tell me, "I hope my son isn't gay" and I told him, "just remember, unconditional love does not mean you always approve of and accept the things your children do." 

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Well if the mother is unstable, then that is probably the main problem. Maybe he can just have a chat with the stepdad, then, and find out if he is observing the same things. At least then you'll maybe know what you're dealing with and you can go from there.

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Something not right there. No seventeen year old son wants to behave like that towards his father. Even the ones who are supposedly "born gay". 

 

What kind of relationship is there between him and his stepfather? I'm not suggesting, just asking.

Edited by ASongOfDegrees

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Well if the mother is unstable, then that is probably the main problem. Maybe he can just have a chat with the stepdad, then, and find out if he is observing the same things. At least then you'll maybe know what you're dealing with and you can go from there.

I will ask my husband if he feels okay with talking with him. I think it would be best.

 

Something not right there. No seventeen year old son wants to behave like that towards his father. Even the ones who are supposedly "born gay". 

 

What kind of relationship is there between him and his stepfather? I'm not suggesting, just asking.

From my observation, his relationship with his step-father seems good. He even calls his step-dad "Dad". He takes him deep sea fishing and helps him find odd jobs around town to make some extra spending money. He went to all of his soccer games when his mother was having bad days and didn't want to go. The biggest thing is his step-father works nights, so during the school year my step-son doesn't spend as much time with him. 

 

In my gut, I think he is a homosexual. He has a girl that he's friends with, but says, "eewwwww, no!" if you ask if they're a couple. He got all giddy one day and showed me a text message from her and said, "look, we sign off all of our messages with this little kitty cat face. Meow!" and then giggled hysterically. I'll put it this way, I've been around a lot of teens in my years in children's ministry plus having two younger siblings I watched come up through the teen years and if my step-son isn't queer, he's the most effeminate acting straight boy I've ever seen. I just pray maybe it's a phase. My husband is so stressed about it.

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Well if he's gay, then it would be good to know. Then you can at least say "Listen, I still love you even though you are gay. And you are still welcome to visit our home. But such and such actions are NOT permitted in this home. We can love you while still having rules under our roof". Or whatever you feel you need to say to lay down the law.

I know a family whose son turned gay and it was a heartbreaking thing.

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Well if he's gay, then it would be good to know. Then you can at least say "Listen, I still love you even though you are gay. And you are still welcome to visit our home. But such and such actions are NOT permitted in this home. We can love you while still having rules under our roof". Or whatever you feel you need to say to lay down the law.

I know a family whose son turned gay and it was a heartbreaking thing.

I think it will devastate my husband and he will likely blame himself. He's already told me, "maybe he's this clingy and affectionate because I couldn't be around him as much to be an example while he was younger." I know this will come out as a poor analogy, but I think it's similar to when a person commits suicide and everyone blames themselves or wants to find some reason to explain it away, but the reality is we're all born sinners and we have to crucify the flesh daily and strive for a holy life and not give into our sin nature because society or the media or the schools tell us "it's okay" or "you can't help it".

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I will ask my husband if he feels okay with talking with him. I think it would be best.

 

From my observation, his relationship with his step-father seems good. He even calls his step-dad "Dad". He takes him deep sea fishing and helps him find odd jobs around town to make some extra spending money. He went to all of his soccer games when his mother was having bad days and didn't want to go. The biggest thing is his step-father works nights, so during the school year my step-son doesn't spend as much time with him. 

 

In my gut, I think he is a homosexual. He has a girl that he's friends with, but says, "eewwwww, no!" if you ask if they're a couple. He got all giddy one day and showed me a text message from her and said, "look, we sign off all of our messages with this little kitty cat face. Meow!" and then giggled hysterically. I'll put it this way, I've been around a lot of teens in my years in children's ministry plus having two younger siblings I watched come up through the teen years and if my step-son isn't queer, he's the most effeminate acting straight boy I've ever seen. I just pray maybe it's a phase. My husband is so stressed about it.

Yes, but even for being homosexual it's not normal to want to hold his father's hand like his dad is his lover and act the way he does. I have a half-sister who is a lesbian and no way would she do something like that with either parent.

 

The reason I asked about the step-dad is because sexual abuse as a child could cause a teenage boy to act like this. The wanting to hold hands like a lover and that. 

Edited by ASongOfDegrees

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I have many doubts about  professional help in such a matter. I think talking with your pastor would be much better. Good biblical counsel would be much better than what most deem professional help. Most professional help is completely unbiblical counseling.

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Sister,

There is only one sure hope.....

 

16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

 

It really does. Keep it bathed in prayer and do not give up on him.  Do it fully expecting God to move in the life of this precious young man and He will do it. Praying for your son.

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"Professional help" is likely making things worse for the boy and mother.  Going to government and or worldly schools encourages boys to be effeminate and not act like men.

 

He might be going through some weird phase but some man needs to tell him to start acting like a real man and not a fruitcake.  That's the worldy and sort of biblical advice.  Is the lad saved?  Does he profess to know Jesus Christ and is their evidence of salvation by his works?

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Hey, too much affection is not as much of a problem as too little!  He could be, like many teens, "standoffish", secretive, and self reliant.  In spite of what the others wrote, I wonder if he just loves his dad, and feels free to express his emotions, which he probably does not do with step-dad--especially if he sees the step father as the very "macho" type.  The effeminate things almost sound as if he was simply younger in his mind, or, as was said "behind the times"  I would say that he is reaching out to your husband for a natural father-son-relationship.  If so, it would be better if he could live with you folks, and see the right kind of example.

 

Just my opinion, so take it for what it is.  You called this "age appropriate affection", could it be that he is just mentally "slow"?  The description sounds as if that is the case.  A younger boy might grovel at his daddy's feet out of admiration, and act like a "puppy dog". 

 

Hope this is helpful.

(By the Way. I too would disagree with "professional" help unless it was definitely from a godly source.)

Edited by irishman

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Far better solution would be to find a Good strong general Bible study for your husband to do with him.
Not a sodimite targetting one by the way, but one to build him strongly in the Lord.
And let the Spirit work.

Edited by DaveW

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Don't assume that he's gay. He may be emotionally immature. And the possibility of sexual abuse could affect how he interacts. Let your husband just love him back, hugs around shoulder, frequent I love you's. I agree with the hand holding could be seen in public as pedophile or sodomite activity, discourage it in public. If he likes to cuddle up at his dad's feet, let him. If your husband pushes him away, this is frequently mentioned by gays now is that they were always seeking approval from their father. If they didn't get that approval, that's what would trigger needing that male love bond with another male. Seeking the love from the father (figure) they didn't get as a child. If his stepdad is in law enforcement he is more than likely super masculine and not a touchy feely affectionate guy. He may still love the boy but just doesn't show his love in affectionate ways.

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He's 17, unless he has a mental handicap, he's old enough to directly talk with about these things. This doesn't mean a direct confrontation, but rather a discussion about things in general that would encompass what's going on. What's more normal than a dad talking with his teenage son about manhood, the future, possible marriage and children, jobs, career, and these sort of things which will give insight into his thinking and open doors for further questions and exploring his answers.

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It sounds like he may be gay to me.  

 

Your husband needs to realize it is not his fault.  My wife and I were talking about how difficult these situations can be.  It is hard on the gay child, and it is hard on the parents who have to accept it.  

 

I would say accept your son for who he is.  You are not going to change him.  In another year he will be a legal adult, and will be making his own decisions.  You have to learn to let go and accept that.  If you try to change him or do things that make him feel guilty or dirty, then you may seriously damage, possibly permanently, your relationship with your son.  If my daughter came to me when she is older and told me she was gay, I would tell her I love her unconditionally, and respect her for who she is, and will be there to listen to her and talk with her no matter what.  

 

If you try to change him, you may lose your relationship with him. If you accept him, respect him, and listen to him, then you can try to begin to understand him.  You may not agree with him, but respect is very important, and most parents do not want to harm their relationship with their children.  So try to put aside your feelings and tell him that you love and respect him no matter what.  Make it an open atmosphere so that if he is gay, he can tell you that and feel comfortable that he isn't going to be attacked.  If he isn't gay and is just different, that is fine as well.

 

Your husband is understandably not comfortable with the over the top affection.  I probably wouldn't be either.  Tell your son that you love and respect him, and he should respect you and your husband as well.  Part of that is not making your husband feel uncomfortable due to the over the top affection.  Love and respect goes two ways.

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Far better solution would be to find a Good strong general Bible study for your husband to do with him.
Not a sodimite targetting one by the way, but one to build him strongly in the Lord.
And let the Spirit work.

Very good-better than my hunting idea, though there's nothing wrong with that, as well. Perhaps he has never been involved in 'manly' activities.

 

Though I will say that I had a friend who was definitely not gay, but he was, well, in touch with his feminie side. He enjoyed having tea, and had his own tea set. he was an interior designer and an artist. But he was happily married and solid in his manhood as well, and a good Christian.

 

I. myself, have been told the same things about me-I like to cook, and design. I shop more than my wife, and tend at times to be a bit emotional, but I am all man.

 

Perhaps this will pass. Good Bible studies, church, activities, and prayer are all great ideas.

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I. myself, have been told the same things about me-I like to cook, and design. I shop more than my wife, and tend at times to be a bit emotional, but I am all man.

 

Ha... most men I know like to shop more than the ladies. :frog:

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I'm a "know what you're after, go get it, return" type of person.

Retailers don't like my type all that much.

I can't stand salesmen, if it's that good -- it will sell itself, thank you. And no, if I wanted an apple pie with that order, I would have said so.

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Why not try to get him saved, and let the Lord work it out in him?  I agree that you should not assume he is gay...not yet.  that is a terrible stigma to put on a man or a boy if it isn't true.  if it is, he won't mind it, of course.  I think I would expose him to the Gospel, like the Bible of tape or cd, and play it around the house as you go about your chores; that, and good gospel music that is scriptural (if you can find any!)  First you might question him about his salvation.

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