Tuesday, February 15


A thought on Maya Keyes and her parents' "throwing her out of the house."

When The Sage and I were about her age, in love and experiencing the late sixties-early seventies challenges, I remember us taking out a pitcher of mushroom tea he'd stashed in his parents' refrigerator when his dad asked, "What is that?" I don't remember what The Sage replied but since he was always honest yet humorous I expect it was something like, "Nothing for you to worry about." I do remember his father's reply. It was, "Be careful, be smart, be responsible. I'm here if you need me."

That was so like his dad, and it probably was one of the main reasons we WERE careful, smart, and responsible. He so often told The Sage, and by extension me, that there was nothing we couldn't talk about with him, nothing he wouldn't try to understand. When The Sage told him that we were in love and wanted to be together even though we were still in college, his dad wrote him a letter I still cherish that began, "Some people say that blessed is the man who has found his work. I say, blessed is the man who has found his love."

Parenting is tough. As regular readers of this blog know, we've been married for years and have five children. We've had what I would characterize as frightening experiences with every single one of those kids, worrying about their choices and futures. I truly don't know how people without faith in God get through it. Yet never did it occur to us to cast one of our children out of our home and our lives. As siblings sometimes do, on occasions long past one or the other would say they couldn't live with one of the others. "Children are not expendable," I'd say. "We're in this together or not at all. If I cast off one of you, how could you trust that I'd always be there for YOU?"

I remember being relieved when I discovered that one of our sons, who at 13 seemed ever-so-slightly effeminate, had hidden a sexy poster of Christy Brinkley behind the clothes in his closet (he reads this blog, so I should mention that he's a very macho sports nut and a husband and father -- he was just so PRETTY as a youngster). It wasn't at all that I'd care myself if he was gay -- I just knew his life would be easier if he were hetero. We have gays in our quite religious family, among them a niece, who is an only child, and beloved and totally supported by her parents. A nephew, who died of AIDS in the care of my sister and brother-in-law. We don't understand how people who profess to be "religious" and concerned with "family values" can forsake their children simply because they have a different sexual orientation.

So I challenge the "family values" crowd to define just what they mean by "family values."

In my world, family values means you cherish every member, you make sure they know you do, and you don't go around casting one of them off because they don't conform to some publicly-accepted notion of respectability.

And guess what, it looks like that at least on this point, Dick and Lynne Cheney agree with me.


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