Darika answers your questions about parenting....

Khun Darika,

I a found a copy of (a gay magazaine in which Darika's column appears) while cleaning my son's bedroom. He is only 19. Does this magazine mean he is homosexual? Do you think he wants to be a woman? I am very sad about this but of course I can not discuss it with my friends. What can I do to cure him and make him normal again? You look like a very kind woman and I hope you can tell me what I can do.

-- Noi in Nonthaburi

Khun Noi,

First of all, I am grateful that you are considering a kinder way to deal with your son rather than a confrontation, which would not be good for either of you. Let me also say that you are not the first mother to come to terms with her child being different in some way.

While having a copy of a gay magazine does not necessarily mean your son is homosexual, although it is likely that he enjoys photos of handsome men more than pretty girls. If he really is gay, there is no "cure" because he is not sick and you will never be able to change him. Reading a magazine did not make him this way, and you are not responsible for his sexual orientation either. And no, not all homosexual men want to become women.

The easiest thing for you to do would be to forget you ever saw the magazine and never mention it to anyone. Over time, however, this would be a poor choice. You will always resent him for not revealing an important part of his life to you. It might be a relief for him to know that you know his secret. However, for most people your son's age, having a conversation with a parent about sexuality is almost impossible.

First of all, do not pressure your son about girlfriends or talk about getting married and having children some day. He will feel defensive and intimidated.

If he has close male friends, try to be friendly with them. If possible, meet their mothers. If you are able to become friends you might eventually say something like: "Have you noticed that our sons are a little different from other boys their age?" Knowing someone else who has a gay son will make it easier for both of you to understand your children. In America and Europe there are discussion groups for parents of homosexual children and even special telephone numbers parents can call for advice. Darika hopes there will be something like this in Thailand some day.

Sooner or later your son may find his own way to talk with you. If not, you should find your own way to talk to him. (Of course it would be very clever if your son could see you reading Darika's reply in this magazine.) When I was your son's age, I asked my mother to help me shop for a bra for a costume party. Once I started wearing it at home she began to ask me to help her with her makeup. Since then mother never looked better.

By the way, don't you think your son is a bit too old for you to clean his room? At his age he would probably appreciate some privacy. I'm sure you would not want him snooping around your room, although he may find your lingerie drawer sooner or later.

Love, Darika