The handwritten letter scanned in and uploaded to the web that's gone viral may be one of the hardest you'll ever read. In it, a father cuts himself off entirely from his gay son. He disowns his own flesh and blood, ostensibly because he refuses to come to terms with the fact that his child is gay.
We don't know if the letter's legit (it comes from a Reddit user), but it's a jarring example of something that happens. A lot. And not just to gay kids. Kids who turn away from a parent's religion. Kids who opt out on college. Kids who turn to drugs. Good kids. "Bad" kids. They're disowned by their parents.
You could say it's a statement about the state of "kids today." I disagree.
It's a sad statement about the number of parents who are falling down on the job.
The father in the letters calls it a "difficult" one to write. He's wrong. It's the easy way out.
Actually facing our kids when we disagree with them, when they disappoint us, is the real difficulty. But it's the mark of being a parent.
We raise our children with hopes and dreams, and then they throw them on the ground and stomp all over them. That's bound to bruise your ego. But that's what growing up is all about, isn't it? Doing your own thing? Becoming a person, separate from your parents and able to be who you want to be?
Perhaps one of the best views on parenthood that I've ever heard came from movie director Peter Hedges. During a viewing of the upcoming film The Odd Life of Timothy Green a few months ago, Hedges stopped by to answer a few questions. What he said has stuck with me since: "Our kids don't belong to us, we belong to them."
Our kids change from birth to adulthood. But we don't; we can't. Our job is to be the constant in their lives, always there with a heart full of love, with a steady head and a firm hand.
That doesn't mean that we can't disagree with our kids or that we can't be disappointed. The parents of drug addicts, pedophiles, murderers, have ever right to be angry, frustrated, disappointed. But that's where the steady head and firm hand come in, and where the heart full of love balances them out.
As they say, you love the player, but hate the game. You can dislike the path your child has chosen, but underneath your child is still your child.
So this dad doesn't agree with the homosexual lifestyle. OK. Fine. Get over it buddy. Parents don't give up on their kids. So be a parent.
What would it take for you to actually disown your child? Is there anything that could make you do this?
Image via Caitlinator/Flickr