Common Friends….Common Grounds……Common Sense Parenting
Way back in May of 2011, I was delighted to receive a message from Brian J Tessier, who introduced himself by saying that, “As we have a few friends in common and common goals, I was hoping to add you as a friend. As an advocate in the area of single parent adoptions, author and National Advisory Council member of HRC’s All Children-All Families foundation, I believe in equality all family matters.
My foundation recently launched www.4114DAD.com and corresponding toll free number for prospective single fathers. Your friendship and support for our community and those who want to be a parent but think it is not possible would be welcomed and appreciated as we work toward common grounds!
On behalf of single gay fathers, I would welcome your friendship!”
It is always a pleasure to connect with fellow equality advocates and it is always a joy to hear about the work that they are doing to influence positive social change.
As Brian continued, “(It) Really is about changing the mis information among men (straight and gay) that they can not adopt and be a single parent if they choose.”
Years have passed but I’ve always had one keen eye on how BrIan has been doing. Recently, he wrote an open letter to his boys and he has been gracious enough to share this with us today.
Open Letter to Ben and Bryce
I read another fathers note to his sons to be read at a later date regarding current events and the election that is looming. I felt compelled to leave this for you. At some point, I will not be around to guide you. Perhaps you will take a look back at the posts I have left behind as a time capsule. In it you will find, pictures, words of love and praise for your accomplishments and how wildly proud of you I am and always was and will be, even when you left the refrigerator empty.
I raised you with very simple principles,
1. Family is defined as all who we love and those who love us.
2. Different is good.
Remember rule one, but I want to take a moment to focus on the second rule. When I pursued the path to parenthood, I was not sure I could raise a girl to be a good woman, but I was fairly confident I could raise boys to be good men, so this note is about being a good man.
If there is one thing I can say, I have always tried to be my authentic self and when I talked the talk, I walked the walk. You need to do the same, especially with those who are different from you and continue as I have taught you to speak out against those who treat others who are different with less than the respect they deserve for being a unique and special part of the interdependent web of life. Stand-Up boys, be men of your word, own your mistakes, don’t fall into the trap of Name, Blame and Shame.
You both have friends who are different and someday you will realize you are perceived or categorized as different as well, because of who or how you were raised, what your ethnicity is, the color of your skin or some other qualifier that someone uses to make you feel less than the incredibly special gift you are.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that a man is about Bravado, being a winner of sexual conquests, or how many folks you can belittle to make yourself seem big. This is an illusion of masculinity that has no place in this time in history. These things do not make you a man, they make you a fool. Live your truth with no apologies, but remember another rule I have always taught you, Do what ye will, so long as it harms none.
A good man recognizes the words, deeds and actions and frankly, inactions his behavior has on people or things, like mother earth for instance. A man who recognizes none of his actions as having any consequence, grabs and takes as he likes without thought of another, not only lacks compassion, empathy, wisdom and and ability to inspire truth and bring about authentic change through leadership, but causes destructions to the lives of those who in his mind are beneath him. No Person, Is Beneath You, when you are a good man.
At this point in our history, me trying to tell you something is like trying to talk to a brick wall. As adolescents and teenagers, you have it all figured out. So, I will start leaving you breadcrumbs along to trail. I can see a lot of what I taught you coming through, your compassion, empathy, ability to lead, ability to stand up for what you know in your heart to be true. Keep it up.
At this juncture in history, we face an uncertainty, as a parent, I am scared for your future. I am not scared for myself, as I have lived long enough at this point to see progress we have made along the way. My fear is those advances in recognition of difference will be washed away. I see the personification of white male privilege trying to batter and abuse all those who are not of that club.
While, I admittedly, have some of that privilege being a white male, it is tempered by how I have been treated as a person who is Different in this world. Suffice it to say I left that LockerRoom long ago. Boys, while you have the privilege of being Male, you are not white, so it will be different in that sense, but different is good. You have a unique perspective, you have a unique power and you have a unique responsibility to use it wisely to lift others up, not put them down and treat all with the respect and dignity they deserve as a result of their inherent worth in the fabric of life.
Ok, so maybe, someday when you read this and look back at the historical context, couple that with my rantings and my lectures and actions, you will see not only your dad but the good man, I try to be and a role model for you. We shall see what is in store for you, but know I am always here as a stabilizing force and someone who loves you bigger than the universe, whose sole goal is to raise you to be the compassionate, tolerant, outspoken men that I know can lead and assist in changing what masculinity looks like in the future.
You may wish to read more from this wonderful dad…well, this is your lucky day because Brian has sent me this:
“I understand that the change in the community will take time. We did not get here overnight…it have been centuries for men who internalized the thought they could not have children. For me it is about eroding the misconceptions and replacing it with facts and about the 115, 000 kids who need homes and I vowed I would do whatever I could so those who want to and future generations do not say “I gave up that dream””
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