Dads, Where Are You?


Recently I read a list of the top 5 life events that cause stress, and my very first thought was, “Crap. I have 4 of them going on all at once.”

This is Rob Cottrell, Susan’s husband. The past few years, and especially the past couple of months, have been an incredible journey. So I want to share what is on my heart today.

When my kids were little, they would jump off a wall and I promised to always catch them and be there for them. I wonder if they still believe that I will always be there and catch them if they jump?

It has been an insane, peaceful, horrible, wonderful time in my life. Over the past couple months everything has changed for me. I have had to make the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my life. Decisions to let go of things in the past that held my heart captive, and trust God to bring a better new life and a peace that passes understanding. Decisions that led me physically from the brink of death to feeling better and healthier than I have ever felt in my life. And decisions to understand and even reimagine my children – fresh and new and unconditionally for exactly who they are.

Being around parents in the LGBTQ community, I see a lot of Moms, but not so many Dads. Still, they are out there, and my heart leaps when I see them. One thing I have observed is that there is a tenderness and hope in the Moms I have met, but the Dads often seem different. They seem overwhelmed and often depressed, confused and beaten down.

I think they feel that having an LGBTQ child means they have failed as a Dad. In some ways they are still trying to hold together the image of a stereotypical successful family, and it feels like it is falling apart.

Dads, I want to encourage you to try to step out of the box in which you have put your children’s lives and see the bigger picture. See the amazing truth about the individuals your children are. Let God take what you see as broken pieces and create a masterpiece.

Dads, what do you really want for your kids? I want my children to be strong and courageous, standing for the truth. I want my children to have a tender heart, especially towards the hurting and oppressed. I want my children to understand the fullness of God’s grace and who they are in Christ. I want my children to love others as God has loved them, and I want them to be loved for who they are.

Your daughters need to know that they are still daddy’s little girl. They need to know that they are beautiful and that they deserve to be loved and treasured and treated with respect. They need to know they are ready for whatever life brings. And they need to know that their Daddy is proud of them.

Your sons need to know that they are still your buddy. They need to know that they are strong and that they have what it takes in this world. They need to know that in your eyes, they are real men. They need to know that their Dad is proud of them.

My Dad died many years ago, but I still long for his approval, for the hugs he never gave me, to hear him say he loved me. He never did.

I have done a lot well as a Dad, and I have also done a lot of things poorly. Things I wish I had never done or said, and so many things I should have done and said. But it’s never too late to love.

We as Dads have the opportunity to impact our children like no one else. To change generations. And we do that first and foremost with our love and our approval.

Over the past few months, I have decided that I don’t want to miss that opportunity anymore. All I have is this moment and my kids are waiting and listening. Yours are too.

They need to know that we are here. That we are not leaving. That we are proud of them and that we love them for exactly who they are, no matter what.

Dad, your child needs you. Be there to catch them and hold them in your arms and tell them you love them – just as they are.

Click here to read “To Christian Parents of Gay Children”

p.s. I will soon begin to do podcasts that will be radio style interviews with members of the Christian LGBTQ and allies community. They will be a new feature of the FreedHearts website. Stay tuned!

12 thoughts on “Dads, Where Are You?

  1. I love your tender heart for your kids and all other LGBTQ kids out there, Rob. You remind me so much of my husband. He was on board from the beginning, but it took me a bit longer to “see the light” when our son came out. I’ve learned so much from him in this journey. My heart breaks for those families where the dad responds in stony silence and withdraws, which is the antithesis of God’s response. I pray your post will be a healing balm. As long as there’s breath, there’s life! Love on your kids, people!

  2. Wow, this is so true! Our son came out to us last October and honestly it was harder on my husband than it was on me. My husband felt like we failed as parents. But after reading “Torn” by Justin Lee we both felt different. Both of us have told our son we loved him, will always love him and there is absolutely nothing he could ever do that would make us stop loving him. We now have the best relationship we have ever had with him.

  3. I absolutely love this post! Thank you for the wonderful and brave and honest words! It makes me want to cry, as I know fathers all over really do struggle. And even though for the longest time my father was silent verbally, he eventually showed me signs of his love and acceptance of me not long after I came out. Now years later, I realize looking back that I had the greatest parents a gay child could ever ask for… but both of their only children are gay… and I’ve always wondered what is truly going on in their heads about that. We have to feel compassion for our parents as well… and I have not been a perfect child.

  4. “Your sons need to know that they are still your buddy. They need to know that they are strong and that they have what it takes in this world. They need to know that in your eyes, they are real men. They need to know that their Dad is proud of them.”

    Truer words. I was blessed with such a Dad. When I came out to him (trembling in my shoes), he looked me in the eye and said, ” You’re my son, and that’s all that matters.” It’s been twenty years since he passed, but I still find myself wishing I could pick up the phone and have a chat with him.

    I am sure that you are the same blessing to your children as my Dad was to me.

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