Today I am pleased to turn my “voice” over to a dear friend. It takes a lot to turn your “voice” over to someone, but after years of friendship, I have come to have a deep respect for Star. She is first STAR, a Christ Follower, a Wife, a Mother, a Friend and a lover of humanity in general. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would speak a negative word against or about her. She is one of the most authentic people who I know. 10 out of 10 people love her.
I have been through several trials with Star and her sweet family and she too has been by me and my family through our trials. She is selfless, holy and practical. I could go on and on but you get the picture. Thank you for giving me the precious gift of love and support in a very difficult situation. You have a special place in the heart of me and my family. I Love you! MUAH!
Raising Kids Towards Love And Acceptance
I am so honored to be Guest Blogging here on Why Am I Gay? A big Thank You to my good friend Chet DeRouen for giving me this opportunity. I’ll let you know later just how we know each other. Let me start by Introducing myself. My name is Star Forbis, I Blog over at Laughing Through Parenting. Yes, I’m one of those “Mommy Bloggers!” Only with a few twists, 1st my kids are a little older; I have 2 boys, ages 21 & 22, and Twin Daughters, age 15. 2nd I have been Married over 25 years to the Love of my Life, who happens to be a Pastor, a Music Pastor. We’ve also been Youth Pastors. So, needless to say, our kids grew-up in the Church world. But, being firm believers in the Public School system, our kids also grew up in a secular world. It’s been a Balancing Act to say the least. I’ve also gone from being a Stay At Home Mom for over 18 years, to now, working full-time.
And if I do say so myself (and I do, often!) 🙂 I have some pretty great kids! Now, they are FAR from Perfect, trust me, but I’ve made a conscious effort to raise them to be Loving and Accepting of everyone they encounter. When Chet asked me to be a Guest Blogger on his Blog (& trust me, in the Blog world, it’s a pretty big deal to give Voice to someone else in your space, and I’m honored he Trusts me enough) he wanted me to talk about how I talk to & educate my kids as a Mother, as a Christian & a Pastor’s Wife about people who are different from them. Basically how I’ve raised my kids to be Loving & Accepting of other people. No matter how those other people look, act, live, where they come from, etc. I was amazed first of all that he thought I had! 🙂
So I asked my kids “How have I raised you to Love & Accept people different from you, if of course, you think that I have?” They said things along the lines of “you showed me we’re all different & thats okay.” “Everyone deserves to be Loved & Accepted.” “We’ve all sinned & done things that are wrong, and God loves us! And He commands us in His Word to Love each other.” And I said “Wow! All this time I thought I was raising you to be Bullies!” 🙂 I’ve said on my Blog that I hope that some of how my kids got to be who they are was ‘Inspired’ by me, but I also know, that some of who they are is ‘Inspite’ of me! 🙂
It’s really so simple; The Golden Rule, as found in the Bible says “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.” Which simply just means treat other people like you would want to be treated! I’d take that a step further & say treat other people how you would want your kids to be treated! What if your Child were handicapped, mentally or physically? What if your child were Gay? What if your child were different in any way from what is considered the “norm?” How would you want them to be treated by others? (We can overlook others mistreating us sometimes, but not mistreating our Children. Am I right?) Well, that is exactly how you should treat other people and teach your children to treat everyone with Love & Respect as well.
We have known Chet & his former Wife Christa for many years. We went to church together. My Husband was the Music Pastor, & Chet sang with him, and was a Board Member of the Church. Christa & I helped to run Mom’s groups, and we all hung out together. They are fun people! We’ve known them as a couple for over 10 years. I remember one night hanging out & (one of my Vices) The Real Housewives of New York came up in conversation, and Chet joined in on the discussion, even knowing some of the Housewives by name. Later that evening while my husband & I were talking about how much fun we had, I said to him “you know, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear Chet was Gay!” What straight man can carry on a conversation about The Real Housewives?! And as usual, I was right! 🙂
Chet E-mailed us & other friends that after years of struggling to not be who he is, dealing with depression & thoughts of suicide, he had decided to be his Authentic self. A gay man. He & Christa were divorcing, yet would continue to parent their two Beautiful little girls together, and would remain best friends to each other. John & I immediately E-mailed Chet & Christa respectively to let them know this changed nothing between us. We Love them both & always will. And that we are praying for them as they go through all the transition & turmoil. And in reality nothing had changed. Chet was still Chet. The man we all know & love! He isn’t somebody different from he’s ever been.
And since we run in the same circles, we told our kids about Chet coming out. They, as kids always do, took it in stride. We’ve tried to make no subject Taboo in our house. We have really tried to always be open & honest with our kids, encouraging their questions. Who else would we want them to ask? I remember once when my oldest son was preschool age, (we’re talking almost 20 years ago) we were in a fast food joint & an Interracial family walked in. My son looked at them & asked “How come that little girl has a black daddy & a white mommy?” His question was not met with a “Shhhh, we’ll talk about that later.” No, my response was “Well, because they fell in love & got married & had a baby, just like me & Daddy! And when you grow up you can marry who ever you fall in love with.” He simply said “Oh” fully satisfied, it made perfect sense to him & he had no other questions on the subject. We try to watch Movies & T.V. shows together, & read books that feature people different from us. Or that could bring up topics for discussions, that we otherwise might never encounter. We talk about our Beliefs, Moral & Social issues & yes, even Politics & Religion with our kids. But always respectfully. It’s not acceptable to put others down, even if they don’t believe like we do.
You see I believe with my whole heart that a Christian’s first response should ALWAYS be one of Love & Compassion. But all too often it is one of Judgement & Prejudice. That breaks my heart. Now, I don’t know what other kinds of responses Chet got to his letter, I’m sure some were very nice, I’m also sure others were not. And I do know it was the end of some of those relationships. But, we too have been on the receiving side of people’s judgements, and we know what if feels like when the Church has seemingly abandoned you, and we have vowed never to purposefully do that to someone else. Jesus was put down when He was on earth for being a “Friend of Sinners.” In fact His only harsh words were reserved for the so-called “Religious” people who thought they were so much better than everyone else. The truth be told: we are all sinners. And we are all Loved by God. We are all created in His Image. None of us are better than anyone else. I’ve tried to make sure my kids have always known that. (Although to me they are the absolute best! As I hope your kids are to you) Who would want to live in a world where everyone looked & thought just like them? Not me! There is so much we can learn from each other & from other cultures. Why wouldn’t we take advantage of every opportunity to do so?
I have been so proud to watch my boys do everything from open doors for people, to helping people move, to shoveling snow for neighbors without being asked, to Ministering to people in the streets & in homeless shelters in New York City after 9/11. And even to watch my girls this year trying to be there in support of a good friend of theirs who was loosing her Grandma, even while they were still hurting over loosing their own Grandma. But In all honesty, I haven’t really taught my kids anything profound. I believe all kids are born with a natural Love for all creatures. I think it’s Hate that is taught all too often. We pass down our Prejudice, our Fears & Ignorance. When we hear about Bullies, I’ve always told my kids “Someone must have hurt them extremely badly for them to act that way toward other people.” We were Youth Pastors when Columbine happened & my boys were in Elementary school. Needless to say It scared the crap out of us! (Yes, I said crap!) 🙂 I remember seeing it on TV as I was walking through the living room with a laundry basket of clothes & just stopping right there, sitting down on the floor & crying. I talked to my boys about teasing, that it might seem innocent & harmless, and even funny, but it’s not to the person being teased. And why would you want to make someone feel so bad just for a few laughs? I encouraged them not only to not participate in teasing or bullying, but to stick up for the person being put down. You never know that kid could one day snap & come to school with a gun, and just maybe they would remember you were the one who stood up for them when no one else did & spare your life. Again it’s as simple as treating people how you would want to be treated. Shouldn’t that be the norm? There are a lot of people in this world. And every single one of them have something to offer. I’ve always loved meeting & getting to know new people. And just because someone is different from we are, deep down inside, we’re really all the same. And in order to get Love & Respect, we, in turn need to give it. Hows that for profound?