Little children learn to deal with big issues Two books which deal with the difficulties of family love
Written by Richard A. Cohen
Illustrated by Elizabeth Sherman
International Healing Foundation, P.O. Box 901, Bowie, MD, 20718-0901
Tel. (301) 773-5573
$14.95 US plus $3.00 US Postage
Hardcover Ages 7 to 12.
Love You Forever
Written by Robert Munch
Illustrated by Sheila McGraw
Firefly Books, Annick Press
$4.95 Soft cover
Ages 3 to 6
For parents and teachers concerned about the influx of gay picture books such as Daddy’s Roommate and Heather Has Two Mommies into both public and school libraries, there is now a healthy counterbalance in Alfie’s Home.
Richard Cohen, a therapist and former homosexual, has written a semi-autobiographical children’s book that assures children it is possible to resolve homosexual feelings.
Everybody thinks Alfie’s family is happy,, but it isn’t. His father is always working and when he’s home he screams a lot. His mother is unhappy and unburdens herself to Alfie. His uncle listens to him and spends time with him. Sadly he also molests Alfie. “He told me it was OK, that this means he really loves me…’This is our special secret.’”
As a teen Alfie is called names. He has feelings of attraction for other boys but a counselor helps him and his parents to recognize that the affection he didn’t experience with his father he then sought in closeness with other boys. The uncle is confronted and the family works at resolving their problems. “Spending time with my dad really healed my heart. All I needed was his time, touch and talk.”
Cohen says he understands the pain of having homosexual feelings. “I myself know what it’s like being called a faggot and a queer,” he told the Bowie Blade-News which reported that “his homosexuality was an insidious reaction to being molested by an uncle at the age of five and having an unhealthy relationship with his parents. Proper parenting can help reduce sexual orientation.”
Alfie’s Home comes with high credentials. It has been strongly endorsed by Joseph Nicolosi, Ph. D. psychologist and author of Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality, “Richard Cohen has hit upon the essential casual and curative themes of the homosexual condition. Many of my adult clients would not have needed psychotherapy today if their parents had read Alfie’s Home.”
Judith A. Reisman Ph.D., author of Kinsey, Sex and Fraud, claims, “Alfie’s Home has laid new groundwork for prevention and healing of homosexuality.”
Dr. Elizabeth Moberly, originator of gender affirmative therapy for homosexuals has said that “As I see it, the male homosexual is like a little boy who’s still looking for his father’s love and the lesbian is like a little girl still looking for her mother’s love. It’s a normal, valid universal need, but they were never intended to be met sexually.” Cohen’s book illustrated Moberly’s thesis addressing the issue before Alfie acts on his feelings.
Daddy’s Roommate shows two men in bed together and concludes that, “Being gay is just one more kind of love.” Cohen’s book examines why Daddy needed that roommate/lover in the first place.
In Heather Has Two Mommies, Heather is raised by a lesbian couple after being conceived through artificial insemination. “Every family is special…The most important thing about a family is that all the people love each other.”
Circle of love definitions of the family sound great but a closer examination of the family dynamics may reveal problems. And ‘normal’ heterosexual families like Alfie’s need to be honest about their family dynamics too.
Daddy’s Roommate and Heather has Two Mommies are already in some Toronto public school libraries and the Toronto public library system. It’s time Cohen’s book was donated to such libraries or purchased by them to provide a counterbalance.
Cohen tells his story with both soundness and simplicity. This is to be the first in a series of children’s books written by the therapist. One hopes the next will be told from a girl’s point of view. One longs too for a young adult book on the same theme but this is a wonderful beginning, filling a real vacuum.
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.”
In Love You Forever, a lullaby becomes a pledge made, a promise kept by a mother to her son through all the wild stages of childhood and adolescence and into adulthood, until it is time for her son to parent the ailing mother and sing the lullaby back to her.
It is a whimsical tale. Those who are pragmatic will wonder why a grown mother would steal into her adult child’s home to sing him a lullaby while he sleeps. But the truth of enduring parental love is deeper than the surface reality. Our children need the reassurance of our love through all their years and across generations. And parents will delight in the love returned.
Love You Forever is not an issue book at all, yet works against the compartmentalizing of love and the ignoring of the elderly. Too often in our culture love is only for the young, whether young children of young lovers. Teens are tougher to parents loving and the elderly are fast forgotten. Love You Forever doesn’t directly address euthanasia, yet it seems a subtle antidote to it, gently illustrating care for those who have cared for us.
Canadian Robert Munch has hit a responsive chord in the hearts of parents and children alike for this book, first issued in 1986, is now in its 42nd printing. Of his twenty books this one and The Paper Bag Princess are his most popular. Annick Press estimates that millions of copies of Love You Forever have been sold.
Both Alfie’s Home and Love You Forever deal with family love across three generations, the first book seriously and the second lyrically. We need to hear both.