Hey its nice that you emailed and that you are looking out for your son. I hope we can help.
The first big obstacle in all this centers on your son’s privacy and trust. Namely, he needs some privacy, and he needs to be able to trust you. Which begs the question, how did you get to the point of reading his email? Maybe you didn’t and in fact it was stuff that was downloaded onto (the family???) computer. Anyway, a big part of this issue is making sure your son retains his trust in you and to know that he has at least some spaces (real or virtual) that are his private areas.
That said, at least you are looking out for him and you are interested in what he is up to. That is a great thing. Many parents don’t engage in their children’s lives and that’s sad.
If your son is trying to figure stuff out its both totally natural and scary at the same time. He is probably sorting through what he likes and that takes time. If you read the In The Closet section of our website (where kids in the closet conduct their own interviews, using our template), the second-to-last question or so asks if other things like porn have been useful to figuring stuff out. Usually, people say that porn helped them. some have said that porn helped them realize they weren’t so messed up afterall and that the things they were imagining were things plenty of people did. Porn can be very healthy way to find some balance.
If your son is downloading or receiving emails containing naked guys, well he’s probably interested in guys. Sometimes you download pictures of girls in the attempt to prove to yourself you don’t need to download pictures of guys to get off, and then when it doesn’t work, you (guiltily) download pictures of guys because that’s what works. Just putting that out there as an idea, not speaking specifially about your son.
Basically you want to discuss the following items with your son:
1. You love him and no matter what you will always love him.
“Son, you could be black, white, gay, straight, crazy, anything – I will always love you” He might react as though you are saying corny stuff but don’t be fooled, he’s heard it.
2. You are available to talk about anything he needs to talk about.
I would just tell him this fact straight up.
3. Protecting his younger brothers from porn.
I wouldn’t worry too much about protecting his younger brothers, they’ve probably already seen it if they are ever going to see it. But maybe this is a way to talk about everything. You can talk to your son in hypothetical ways. For example “Hey I notice that you spend a lot of time on the internet. Well, anyway you know that I love you and I think you are old enough now to make your own descicions about what you look up on the internet, and that’s fine, but I am not so sure your brothers are yet. So, do you know how to make sure you don’t leave a trail behind?” then if he doesn’t, tell him he should figure it out or you will figure it out together. Emptying cache and deleting history, and making sure nothing has been saved to the hard drive are the basic steps here.
4. As far as a life of being gay, or bisexual, or whatever, don’t be so afraid for him. Have you read all the interviews we have done on our website? We have interviewed over 1000 gay and lesbian teens and 20-somethings. They are all awesome. Most of them have 90% great lives. Many are very integrated in their schools and do very well in school. You only hear the bad stories in the news, but the news doesn’t represent reality. Everyone goes through hate and difficulty in life in one way or another. Being gay is cool in most cases, and although there might be tough times ahead for him (speculating here) he will be stronger for them. THE BOTTOM LINE IS THAT HE HAS TO HAVE AT LEAST ONE PARENT WHO LOVES HIM AND WHO IS AWARE OF WHAT IS GOING ON IN HIS LIFE. So long as you keep interested and keep loving and supporting him, he can make it through anything. There are resources for him just about anywhere. If you help him out he will be just fine. Plus you get to always be the number one woman in his life. How cool is that??
Good luck and let us know how things go
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