Monday, June 18, 2007

One Father Speaks Out

I received the following in my email today. I read it while my students were taking a test and I couldn't wait to get home and post it so all of you could read it, too.

Thank you, sir, for sharing this with me, and for allowing me to share it with the Blogosphere.

Thank you, also, for being a good father to your children.



As a long-time reader of your blog, I thought I'd share the following with you. It's too long for me to post in the comments section. I wrote this earlier today BEFORE I read your posting of the Christmas story.

First, a little background: My eldest daughter moved out of the house shortly after her 18th birthday, about 5 years after she stopped talking to us. She just turned 21. About 2 months ago, she dumped her boyfriend (a really nice guy with a safe, boring job who loved her intensely and wanted to marry her) and she headed off to sunny southern CA to live the W-B lifestyle. (This is the girl who, while in high school, decided she wanted to be a gangsta rapper. I tried to tell her that a military brat white girl didn't have the street cred.. base housing wasn't ghetto enough.)
Needless to say, the new job didn't pan out (she couldn't make the quota for cell phone sales) and so she's between jobs while locked into a 6-month rental agreement along with having a car payment to make.

For the first time in her life, she's turned to mom and dad for help. Here's what I sent (along with a check for $1000):
(Start letter)
Since I’m paying for the privilege, I’m going to take some time to share my thoughts and feelings…
Congratulations on the new job—I sincerely hope it works out for you. I mean it, I want you to find success and happiness in what you do. I want you to be happy.

As you are finding out, adulthood constantly brings responsibilities and challenges. Sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t. We each have different priorities and often our priorities change as we go through life. Translated, this means that sometime we get beat up pretty badly due to choices we make. Mostly, we survive. Hopefully, we can learn. Sometimes it takes repeated smack downs before we get the right message.

One of the hardest lessons to learn is patience, both with ourselves and with others. We want to be successful in our jobs and with our relationships and we want it NOW! Life isn’t so accommodating. For every choice we make, we must necessarily sacrifice other options. Once we start down certain pathways, it gets really hard to make changes.

I want you to think about the type of person you’re going to be when you’re 25, 30, or 40 years old. I don’t mean what kind of career you’re going to have or what kind of car you’ll be driving. What type of person are you going to be?

You’ve proven that you can be mature and responsible. You’ve also proven that you’ve got a rebellious streak a mile wide. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you’ve got to learn to control it—not letting it control you.

Be careful with alcohol. Your grandmother (my mother) was an alcoholic and a drug addict for a good portion of my childhood. I made the decision even before we (converted) to stay away from alcohol. You haven’t lived through the hell I knew as a child and so you don’t have the experience to know just how evil these addictions are, or how badly they can screw up your life. I would caution you to stay away from alcohol, not just because I believe in the teachings of (our) church, but because I’ve seen up close the damage it does. Of course, you’re going to disregard this advice because you’ve already made the decision that it’s your life and you’re free to screw it up however you choose. Just remember, actions have consequences and there is NOTHING you do that doesn’t affect other people—especially the people who love and care about you. Last words on this subject—if you’re going to drink, don’t drive. Sleep in your car if you have to but don’t think you’re up to handling any type of driving.

If you’re going to sleep around, get yourself tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases. You do not know the guy’s history and when you have sex with him, you’re having sex with every person he’s ever slept with. Unless he’s a virgin or has used a condom every time, he’s going to have some type of STD. There should be a clinic where you can get yourself tested from time-to-time.

If you become pregnant, you mom and I will help you all we can. You should know our views on abortion. Life is precious (you have no idea until you’ve been through the process). (Cousin #1) may tell you it’s no big deal—but she’s hardly a moral authority. My perspective is abortion is a form of murder and I would mourn the same as if someone had deliberately killed (little sister #1) or (little sister #2) or you. It would change everything. We can live through a pregnancy, and we’d support a decision for keeping the baby or for adoption. I’m not sure I’d be able to handle having a daughter who, having been taught all her life about the sanctity of life, would deliberately choose such an option. Abortion is a pure selfishness and I would hope that should you find yourself faced with the choice, that you would choose life. Anything else you do in life can be forgiven. Even a drunk driving accident that kills a child can be forgiven. But, despite what society and T.V. may portray, abortion is the premeditated murder of an innocent. This I believe in my bones, even without my faith.

Nearly done.

Okay, I’ve paid $1000 for the privilege of passing on my advice. Take from it what you will. I guess every father apologizes for not being the perfect father so there’s no need for me to go down the path of “I’m so sorry I wasn’t there for you when….” Let’s face it, we both have sufficient problems. Probably the only person I’ve ever met who had her own head screwed on right is your mother. She’s tried her best to help me keep my own rebellious nature in check—not always succeeding. I have my own problems with which I struggle daily.

Now that I’ve covered my major concerns, I few words of practical advice:

Surround yourself with good music. Find music that makes you feel good about yourself. Load up your mp3 player with all types of songs. Find a radio station.

Pay attention to the news—be aware that you may only be getting part of a story. Listen to other people’s opinions, but learn to form your own based on the facts (as you understand them). If new facts come to light that affect your opinion, then change your opinion.

God can not be disproven (you can’t really ever say “I know God does not exist”—you can’t prove His absence based upon your limited abilities). My personal testimony is useless to you. It’d be like trying to describe a rainbow to a blind girl. Until you’ve seen the rainbow for yourself, it’ll never be real for you. The problem is, what if you look for God and he’s actually there? That means you’ll have to readjust your life because there’s no escape ONCE YOU KNOW. As long as you don’t look, you’re not in any danger of finding God. Of course, that doesn’t mean that He isn’t going to reach down some day and swat you. You’ll know it when it happens. It’s happened to me several times.

You may not care for it, but your sisters look up to you. They idolize you. They miss you and love you terribly. Be nice to them. I’ve sent some extra money so you can do something nice for (little sister #2) when you see her. Give your uncle **** (and Aunt *****) a call. He’s willing to bring (little sister #2 visiting LA for the summer) down to you, or to meet you somewhere. He’s looking for an excuse to come down to the zoo or Sea World (he mentioned he’s got some passes). If you’ve got the chance, go to Sea World. Uncle **** is also offering you to stay with them for a couple days (or just overnight) if you can make it up to (city near LA). (Little sister #2) is really homesick right now and would really love to just visit with you. She’ll make crepes for you. With strawberries.

Your mom and I miss you. Moms never let go of their children—you’ll always be her baby. Dads are different. We raise children to go out into the world and be responsible adults. While I miss you, and I love you, I want you to know that I am proud that you’re making your own way in the world. I have my concerns that you’re not being as responsible in certain areas of your life as we’d like you to be—but you’re still young and well on the road to making your own mistakes.

Perhaps things might have been different if only…..

But let’s face it, when you lived at home, there was nothing we could tell you then that you would listen to.

One last thing to remember. If you’re looking for a stable relationship, you’re not going to find it where you’re currently looking. Exciting is nice for a weekend or a month. But real relationships, lasting loving relationships, are built over time and rely on emotional stability, humor, trust, mutual sacrifice, and work. Trust me on this. Do you think it’s an accident or dumb luck that your mother and I are still married? You haven’t paid attention to my family, but I’ve seen why my father, my mother, my brothers: ***, *** and ***, and both my sisters: *** and ***; I’ve seen up close why their marriages have failed and I’ve learned from their mistakes. Look at (female cousin #1) and (female cousin #2) for more examples of seriously wrong life decisions.

Do you really want to be happy? Are you willing to do the work required to bring happiness or do you want someone else to bring you happiness on a platter? If you’re waiting for the latter, you’re in for a lot of grief and pain and years of loneliness.

We love you and want you to succeed. Someday, when you honestly want our advice (instead of us buying the privilege), we’ll be here for you. If you can learn to forgive and to trust us.

Love, love, love always,

Dad and Mom


Some of us are trying, and praying very hard, for our children. I don't come from a large family--it's just that my mother was married 4 times, my father 3 times. I've only got 1 brother where we share the same parents--the other 4 brothers and 2 sisters are half-siblings. You don't want to know about the constant parade of step-siblings as I was growing up. Americans don't have family trees anymore--it's now crabgrass.

You have my permission to post this e-mail in it's entirety or edited for brevity. Perhaps someone else can take these words and use them, or find comfort that they are not alone as they pray for wayward children. And for all the fathers out there who find it hard to say the words but want to let your children know you love them, I feel the same way. If I had to try and say this stuff over the phone or face-to-face, I'm not sure I'd be able to. I'd stammer and blush and turn gruff.

My two younger daughters are gone for the summer--one in LA, the other at my sister's ranch in New Mexico. The house is so very quiet and I miss them all terribly, even the eldest daughter who hated us for so long and is now turning to us for help.


Again, I thank you for allowing us to share your letter.

Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 9:46 PM | |


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