Indecision

Sometimes I wonder if getting that Catholic tattoo of the Miraculous Medal got under my skin in more ways than just the typical way a tattoo does. Or maybe it was a spiritual mark made by my baptism and confirmation. Or maybe I’m just really indecisive.

After months of saying I’d never go back, now I’m not so sure. I still have no desire to go to Mass again. I still don’t want to give up my crystals and tarot cards and chakra meditations. I still have a lot of doubts about whether Jesus and the redemption are even real because they just don’t make sense. I still have a lot of issues with religion because of my upbringing.

But. I was chatting in a Catholic Facebook group yesterday (which tends to lean more liberal politically) and talked about my oldest being LGBTQ and how that makes it really hard to be Catholic. The kind responses I got were nothing short of unexpected, mind-blowing even.

It makes me wonder how much of my doubt and disgruntlement has to do with what other people think. My former closest friend used my attempt to find religious faith as a slur against me, a flaw in my personality. I don’t agree with most mainstream Catholic or Christian media or religious figures, especially American ones, with their pro-Trump support and vitriol against LGBT and abortion issues.

In truth, if I could find a way to be Catholic and not be associated with those things, maybe I would. I’d still have the doubts about the rules and the resurrection and the ascension and all that. But maybe my issues with it have more to do with being afraid of what people think.

If I were to identify as Catholic again, I wouldn’t be the same type of devout Catholic as my husband is. But that’s just another form of measuring my faith against the opinions and beliefs of others.

Maybe the concept of Jesus’ life and death is metaphorical and it’s supposed to mean something to us on an archetypal level that isn’t meant to be analyzed to death for its realism.

In truth, the practice of religion has never been very comforting to me. I don’t think it would be now, either. But maybe there’s some reason I’m drawn to it again.

Maybe this is one of those issues that for me is going to take a long time to work out. I don’t have to have all the answers today. But it’s also not a bad thing that I’m still thinking about it.

I have to figure out how to be okay with myself when it comes to faith issues, regardless of what anyone else thinks, and see where it leads me. I’ve spent too much time comparing myself to other Catholics (many of whom I vehemently disagree with) and feeling ashamed of trying to pursue any faith. Maybe I can find my own definition that works for me, even if it doesn’t look the same as anyone else.

Parenting styles and LGBT kids

I was involved with this online group of moms who all mostly raised their kids this same way. Most of us were politically liberal, very intentional in how we raised our kids, and raised our children in a more or less attachment parenting style.

I was part of that group of moms (and one dad) for about 16 years and am still in touch with many, so I get to see how the kids are turning out so far. While there are differences among the kids based on the individual kids’ achievements and the parents’ goals for them, one thing stands out: there’s a way higher percentage of LGBT and non-gender-conforming kids among the group, including one of my own.

I’ve been pondering the issue and trying to guess why there’s such a predominance of LGBT or non-gender-conforming kids among the group.

Is it because the vast majority of us parents were liberal? I’d have to say no to that because I also know kids who are LGBT whose parents didn’t raise them the way our group did and who aren’t especially liberal.

I think my explanation is that we always had the belief that we’d respect our children as individuals, no matter what they did. We weren’t a group that endorsed spanking kids, for example, preferring gentler discipline solutions instead.

It started with a different view of children from infancy. We felt that breastfeeding was not only natural but a child’s birthright. Many of us, including me, fought hard to make breastfeeding work. We preferred keeping our babies close to us, whether carrying them in a sling or letting them sleep next to us. We didn’t force weaning upon them, instead following the child’s lead for when they were ready. We were anti-circumcision, believing it was not our right to alter our children’s bodies so permanently without their consent. Most of us used cloth diapers, believing it was healthier for the child and the planet.

It was a very child-centric type of parenting. Overall, it was just a very child-focused environment we raised them in. We challenged each other to be better, more conscious parents.

I like to think that there’s a disproportionate number of LGBT/queer/non-gender-conforming kids among the group, not because the parenting style caused it, but because we accepted our kids as who they really are. I think the kids would’ve still been LGBT anyway but they were more accepted because of the families they were born into.

I knew my kid was somewhere on the LGBT spectrum when he was 5. When he finally talked to me about it, I wasn’t surprised at all. His journey toward self-acceptance has taken a lot longer than my and my husband’s acceptance of him has taken.

But at the same time, we never raised him or his brothers with gender stereotypes. We taught that boys can cook and nurture and women can be powerful and not as maternal. Part of me wonders what role that played, if any.

I think maybe we were just given these kids as the universe’s gift to the kids as individuals. The kids were still going to struggle with society’s treatment of them as individuals who fall outside the norm; at least they didn’t have to deal with parental judgment as well.

After all, if connection and acceptance were the whole point of the parenting style, maybe we were given them because we could handle it. Respect for your kids doesn’t end when they take a different path than the one you might have chosen for them.