A Gift of Listening for My HIV Positive Son
Author: Kelly Markell
Contrary to what many might think (and do), the most important job of a parent is not to speak, preach, direct or yell. The most important job of a parent is to listen.
If you were to listen, you would hear that your adult son or daughter becomes very much the child when talking about what their parents mean in their battle against HIV.
As I have spoken to HIV+ adults around the country it has never ceased to surprise – and sometimes distress me – to see the reaction when I talk about being a dad. Somehow it has become okay to not be a dad if your son or daughter has a lifestyle that you don’t approve of. I have seen first hand the pain it causes when you lose your parents over being gay or having HIV.
We don’t get to pick who our children are anymore than they got to pick who their parents were.
I know that people are afraid of HIV and don’t like to think about the lifestyle choices of their kids if they are different than their own. But we parents can make the ultimate difference in our child’s life with HIV by providing what parents do: love and support,
What should a parent know about HIV?
Your adult child has been diagnosed with HIV and made the very hard decision to share that information with you. It is hard to talk about HIV because it may require us talking about some very private aspects of our lives including topics like sex and drug use.
I know from personal experience there are so many things that are going through your mind. Not the least is the very real fact that my child’s life has been changed forever. Could my son or daughter pass before me? It is more important than ever to listen to them right now. You must absorb and learn all that you can. HIV/AIDS has been a reality for over twenty-five years. You are not the first family to face this crisis and there are many others living with HIV who have overcome many of the emotional and physical speed bumps and roadblocks. They have given us a road map for dealing with our child’s illness and ways to truly understand. Staying informed helps so that you can talk together about important choices and concerns. It will minimize the feeling that they have to educate you each time you talk about the emotional up and downs. You can’t get informed if you aren’t listening.
I created “My Child is HIV+” – A Living Guide for Parents for Father’s Day. I wrote it for the parents of HIV positive adults who need their moms and dads to be on their team. Inside the pages you will find basic information about HIV/AIDS and some of the things that a parent needs to know to fully support their HIV positive child. I want to thank both the parents and adult children affected by HIV for providing valuable insight for me in writing this guide. It was hard sometimes to find the right words. The guide is the result of asking questions and seeking the answers to allow those with HIV to live a full life without unnecessary limitations. It was about listening when I really just wanted to cry out. A free copy of the guide is available on our website at http://myhivaidsawareness.com. I hope you will share it with your family and friends.
My final word to parents: If you want to be a person of great influence, if you want to teach your children, motivate them, inspire them and lead them, then learn to listen.
1. Talk less. Listen more.
2. Make fewer statements. Ask more questions.
3. Make it your mission to understand HIV.
4. Follow us weekly at myhivaidsawareness.com to gain more insight and support.
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