The Child You Hate May Be the One You Love

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This story is inspired by the real world. (Names, ages, and every other detail have been changed, to protect the innocent.)

Once upon a time, about eighteen years ago, Martha, a round-cheeked baby girl was born to Max and Mary. Over the moon, Max and Mary dressed their infant in girly finery, invited cherished friends to be her godparents, and had Martha baptized at their community church, in a Kansas suburb. Max and Mary were God-loving Baptists, active volunteers, and hard-working, honest, tax-paying Americans. Like stable, caring parents everywhere, they wanted only the best for their beautiful daughter.

Mary painted a pink and purple world for Martha, her cherubic, tow-headed girl. She spared no expense in dressing her to the nines and lavishing her with baby dolls and filigreed tea party toys, cute stuffed animals and super eighteen-piece baby-baking sets. Mary braided Martha’s pretty hair and tied it up with satin ribbons. Martha was Mary’s little princess.

But something was wrong. In the playground Martha ran and tumbled, climbed and scampered through the jungle gym, and wrestled with the boys. When she went with her mother to shop for clothes, she complained. She wanted to wear blue jeans and sweatshirts, sneakers and caps backwards on her head. She wanted to play with trucks and toy soldiers. She asked her dad for a football. Mary allowed Martha to dress like a boy, but not without an argument, and not without the ever-present hope and prayer that Martha would come around.

Max and Mary worried. Martha was resisting their parental guidance toward girlhood. Where had they gone wrong? Martha wanted for nothing, and yet she didn’t want what they gave her.

“No daughter of mine is going to play with trucks,” grumbled Max.

“No princess in our family is going to play football,” scoffed Mary.

The parents tried everything. They bribed, cajoled, scolded, shamed, and guilt-tripped Martha into girliness, until their efforts exhausted them. Martha wanted to please her parents. She loved them and knew they loved her. But she continued to resist the frilly, fluffy stuff, and to be drawn toward the rough and ready, trucks and football, and the dizzying, muddying slides into second base.

Always boisterous and confident, if too boyish for her parents, when Martha got to seventh grade, she became reticent, stayed in her room with the door closed a lot, and began to answer long questions with one-word grunts. She seemed to be disappearing right before her parents’ eyes. When they asked if anything was the matter, Martha said no; when they asked about school, Martha just shrugged. Her grades, always high, began to slip. Teachers complained that Martha was antisocial and kept to herself too much.

Max and Mary consulted with their pastor, their siblings, their friends, who reassured them that Martha was just having growing pains, and that she was bright and pretty and would grow up just fine, to fulfill all the dreams her parents had planted in her from the day of her birth.

But it was not to be. When Martha turned 16, she refused her parents’ offer of a sweet-sixteen party. A horrible argument ensued, with lots of yelling and tears on both sides. Finally, Martha screamed, “Don’t you guys get it? I’m gay!”

Dead silence.

For two days Max and Mary refused to talk to Martha. They couldn’t even look her in the eye. They closed themselves away and prayed that they had heard wrong, that Martha was just testing them out of teenage rebellion, that at worst she was just in a phase that would pass in due time.

On the third day, they sat Martha down and gave her an ultimatum. “You are damned to hell, and an abomination against God, and you may not remain under our roof, as long as you insist on choosing a sinful lifestyle. Either take back what you said, or you are no longer our daughter.”

And then Max and Mary watched their daughter throw a few possessions into a backpack, put her cap backwards on her head, and walk out their front door. They never saw her again.

From time to time, Max and Mary tried to find out where Martha was. They prayed furiously that Martha would see the error of her ways, and come home again. They dreamed she would walk back through the front door, and be their shining daughter once again. They heard she had gone to New York, that she was doing odd jobs and moving from one friend’s sofa to another.

And yet they remained steadfast in the decision to which their deep faith had led them. Every couple of months the phone rang, and when they answered, the line went dead. They always hoped Martha would call and tell them she was okay now, and wanted to come home.

Two years to the day after they had been forced by their beliefs and their consciences–with the support of their pastor, family, and friends–to reject their only child, Max and Mary were sipping coffee after church on Sunday, when the pastor, looking ashen, approached them and asked to see them privately. He took them to the parish office and sat them down.

“Max and Mary, I’m afraid I have some bad news. It’s about Martha.”

It seemed that on her eighteenth birthday, Martha had had enough of a world that made her feel invisible, reviled, and wrong, and she could no longer love a God who would allow her to be banished by her own parents. She was out of hope and alone. So she drank a bottle of cheap red wine, climbed the fire escape to the roof of her New York City building, and threw herself over the side, onto the cold, hard pavement ten floors down.

Max and Mary still go to church every Sunday. They weep copious tears of loss and regret. They pray that God will forgive them, that in His infinite goodness and wisdom, He will grant them enough grace and comfort to live out the rest of their lives, knowing that it was their unquestioning faith and unthinking bigotry that tore their hearts away from their only offspring, and ultimately destroyed her.

Max and Mary know that it’s too late to save Martha. But they hope they’ll still have time on this earth to save someone else’s child. And they pray for it every single day.

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The Child You Hate May Be the One You Love, 9.6 out of 10 based on 131 ratings
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56 Comments

  1. ‎:(… those parents r the ones hat should b damned to hell… >:O

  2. That is so heartbreaking :'(

  3. If they’re still “praying,” they obviously haven’t learned anything. Religion ruins everything.

  4. Religion does not ruin everything, the fanatics ruin religion. Also I genuinely tried to play with dolls and hold “tea parties” on the stump behind our house and I thought it was the most retarded thing I could imagine.

  5. How sad her own parents would not accept who she really was. Tragic.. 🙁

  6. I have a daughter like this, the difference is I support how she chooses to dress and stand behind her when other family members try to dress her girly. She’snine, and I love her spunk.

  7. Am super girly…. I love pink I’ve always wants to wear dresses and played with dolls….. I was a “normal” girl…. But… Am a lesbian.. my dad is having a hard time accepting it because he doesn’t understand how or why since I’ve always been grly… Wish my dad would just accept me without questioning why!!…

  8. This has a powerful impact, Rachel — thanks!

  9. I’m girly, but with an edge. My very conservative mum screamed at me “are you a d***?!” because I wanted a thicker band for my class ring.
    I was continually teased for not looking “feminine” to the point where I tried to be overly girly. It backfired.
    Add that with the self loathing of not knowing what the hell I was, I was a mess.

    What set me on the path of self-acceptance was my mom telling me she’d love me no matter my orientation.
    So, some parents have hope. In my mom’s case, it was seeing that her only daughter…who is bi…is still a good person.

  10. That’s my life.. Just not as unpleasant as mine

  11. The story sounds just like me. Minus being gay. 🙂 And I never came out to my parents, and thankfully my parents weren’t quite as strict as these parents were.

  12. this is so sad, another story was set on lifetime channel “Bobby” same type of story line, the number one person the boy wanted to love him was his mother and her hatred killed him, shes now part of pflag to help others parents understand.

  13. I’m catholic and a mother. If my daughter told me she was gay I would do everything in my power to help her. I can’t imagine God having any issue with that. Love is love and I would still be an extremely proud parent.

  14. As a mother of three and a grandmother of eight I have no capacity to understand how any parent can reject their child for any reason

  15. Honestly, this story makes me unbareably sad. How can anyone say that to their child? I am glad that my younger brother is a young confident man who doesn’t allow others bullshit take him down. People can be so ignorant.

  16. It’s awful that people sacrifice their child;s individuality for their image and religion. All they have now is regret.

  17. I’m so glad to know that, one day, I’ll be a GREAT parent and I will never judge my child. These people should be ashamed of themselves. So sad… 🙁

  18. What a sad story. I hope that other parents will learn to accept their LGBT children for who they are as people, regardless of how they identify

  19. That’s so sad! Anyone else start crying their eyes out??

  20. The true power of man made religion

  21. This…really hit home. I can completely empathize with Martha’s struggle. Excuse me, I seem to have something in both my eyes…

  22. I was such a tomboy as a little girl, and still am to a very great extent. I was raised by conservative Christian parents, and I went to a private Christian university (after attending public school all my life). I saw the advent of the first Gay-Straight Alliance on my campus while I was an undergrad, and I listened to stories of allies struggles to come to terms with the fact they were raised with prejudices and bigotry, and that they had to reject those prejudices. And I remember calling my parents, and thanking them on more than one occasion, that they always ALWAYS taught me that the greatest thing I could do as a Christian is love people. Full stop. I was raised in an environment that could have so easily bred hate and prejudice, and my parents made sure that I was raised with neither. And I remember after these many conversations realising that even though I am not gay, I have no doubt whatsoever that my parents would love me even if I were, no matter what.

  23. I think I finally understand why some people hate homosexuality. It’s because they themselves have never experienced love, so they can’t recognize it in others, either.

  24. How do parents love their child at their best and reject them at their worst? Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?

  25. Reminds me somewhat of what I’m going through. Except my parents aren’t religious, they just think (direct quote) “they want to have the cake and eat it too”. It’s pathetic what’s happening in this world when it comes to individuality and sexuality and how we want to live and love.

  26. If this story does not touch your heart, then I ca’t think of 1 that would. No child should have to go through anything even close to this.

  27. That’s the saddest thing ever… maybe they should have prayed to God for understanding so they could live with her instead of praying for forgiveness after her death. What these so-called Christians (and it’s not ALL Christians!!) don’t understand is that Jesus was all about tolerance and love…and the bible warns against judging others. I could never even THINK of turning any child of mine away because they’re gay…and I am the proud mother of a wonderful daughter who just happens to be gay 🙂

  28. I come to think of a prayer for bobby
    It is so sad that something like this happens
    here could parents have several years of love’s daughter
    but choose hatred and when so ill just happens so they can cry’s daughter: (

  29. How could anyone reject their own child for being who they where meant to be..:(

  30. I have no sympathy for those parents at all. My pity goes to that poor little girl. It’s a horrible thing to grow up with such idiots.

  31. What despicable selfish deluded bastards her parents are , imagine disowning your own child because of your damned religion .. I have no pity for them whatsoever, but I feel immense pity for the girl they rejected for being true to her nature, what blind selfish ignorant douche-bags that poor girls parents are… still praying to their invisible friend whose preachers still promote such prejudiced and inhumane doctrines , contemptible..

  32. those bastard parents didn’t deserve a daughter as wonderful as her. i hope this haunts them for the rest of their lives. i hope they blame themselves for it every single day.

  33. I kind of know what ‘Martha’ went through. A similar situation happened to me at about the same age except I survived my parents ignorance and bigotry as they overcame it and I now have a great relationship with them. I’m not sure how I made it through, but I’m glad I did. For me, it got better. And as for those of you who are labeled ‘different’ I would like to wrap my arms around each and every one of you and say ‘you’ll be fine, just be who you are’. To the children out there that have been ridiculed, abused, shunned, excommunicated, bullied, etc. for being gay I want to tell them you are valuable, worthwhile, beautiful, brilliant, special, and most of all an important part of this world; it really DOES get better.

  34. It breaks my heart terribly to think that parents still reject their children for who they are & who they love (the eternal optimist in me doesn’t want to believe it)…but I know it’s still happening. I have been blessed with a loving mum and extended family. I hope that in time (sooner rather than later) this type of story will really become a myth.

  35. Isn’t that when a child needs the love and support of their parents the most – when they are facing a world that makes them feel “invisible, reviled and wrong”?

  36. It’s a sad world indeed when parents will reject their own child over something as stupid as sexuality.
    My Grandparents kicked me out after I told them I wasn’t going to be the child they wanted me to be. They wanted me to be Catholic, straight and a lawyer. Well, I’m Pagan, pansexual and anything but a lawyer. They finally accepted this and let me stay with them again. Nothing’s changed. We still argue. A lot.

  37. ‎’ They pray that God will forgive them,’ As far as I’m concerned, these parents don’t deserve forgiveness. They deserve to live the remainder of their days in pain at what they’ve done.

  38. How many more must die before the truth is accepted….

  39. WOW!!! Very powerful, and close to my heart. Kind of what I went through when I came out

  40. If you can’t love your child for who they are as they are, then you shouldn’t be a parent. Plain and simple.

  41. Although I agree that these parents acted very dumb, I cannot forget that they based their reaction in their strong religious beliefs. They probably really thought what they did would shock their daughter to find what they thought was the right way to live. They never expected to lose their daughter. Agreed, if you have kids, you should never send them out of your house; for better or worse you are the parents, but on the other hand, they have been delusioned by their conviction. Yes they were wrong, but what did their pastor and their friends tell them before the girl killed herself? Did the church reprimand them and say that they should get in touch with their kid again? I went to a church once where someone was sent away from the church, ultimately his parents luckily decided to disobey the pastor’s explicit order to forget their kid.

  42. Martha must have felt so desperate und lonesome. Instead of supporting and protecting her against all the bulling and misunderstandings in school she also felt being ‘wrong’ in her own family. Especially for girls it still so hard.I see in my work as socialworker very often how lonesome this process must be handled by girls. I’m a proud mom of a lesbian teendaughter and you can believe me she is the most amazing,wonderful,loving person,luckily confident and the best ever happend to me.I’m so proud of her and thankful I may be her mom! There must be a change and still so much done to receive a healthy,common growing up -here in Munich/Germany and everywhere else.

  43. Thier homophobia was supported by their sexual steriotyping! For example, boys and girls, straight and gay, all might like a baby doll to play at being a mommy or daddy, AND a truck to play at building the house to raise them in! Love your kids, for all they are, whoever they are!

  44. My problem with this story is that it propagates the myth that being a tomboy is a sign of being gay. Some people are gay, some are straight, and some are tomboys, but there really isn’t much of a correlation.

  45. This is really sad. The first third of the text could have been me, since I was exactly the same when I was kid wearing boys’ clothes and playing boys’ stuff. But my parents, although making attempts from time to time to dress me more like a girl, didn’t care, let me be the kid I was and I had a great childhood. How ridiculous did these parents already behave at her young age? It’s no use trying to label kids cause they’re kids and they develop. They don’t think in categories, they just live, and they might turn out totally different growing up than you might predict. I’d wish that all these hateful parents in the world would remember a glimpse of what it’s like being a kid that only sees love and doesn’t try to categorize love…

  46. ‎”I scream into the night for you. Don’t make it true, don’t jump. The lights will not guide you through. They’re deceiving you, don’t jump” Don’t Jump ~ Tokio Hotel
    My sister is gay and we all love and support her and her rights

  47. Don’t be ashamed of what your kids turn out to be …. After all, you made them. Love them for who and what they are, don’t judge on who they happen to love. In the end, does it really matter?

  48. This is why I oppose organized religion. When people are opposed to an identity, as opposed to particular actions, the only result will be tragedy. And the first tragedy was not the young girl’s suicide; it was of her parents who would not accept her as she was.

    Can parents rightfully prohibit certain behaviors? Sure, but they should pick their battles. Playing with different toys and dressing a different way is fine; they face plenty of peer pressure to conform, and they shouldn’t have to face that at home. Having sex early in your teenage years is one of those behaviors that parents can rightfully prohibit.

  49. I don’t have children. One of the two biggest regrets of my life. Astounds me that people throw their precious gifts away. I just do not understand.

  50. My friends need to read this story!!I will say that it is VERY sad.But it is also very important to love your children no matter what!Believe me this is NOT a Choice that I would have made,but it is WHO I AM and I WAS BORN THIS WAY!

  51. The sad part about this is, and I know personally people who have struggled with it in my life…is that the instant anger and hatred…isn’t needed. This girl was still the same daughter she had always been, the same person, with the same thoughts and feelings. She wasn’t anything other than who she was five minutes before she said anything.

  52. There’s an awesome singer/songwriter out of Tucson, AZ named Namoli Brennet, who has eight CDs she engineers herself. Her website is http://www.namolibrennet.com

    The song “We Belong” should be the anthem for the TLBGIQ community:

    Here’s to all the tough girls
    Here’s to all the sensitive boys
    We belong
    And here’s to all the rejects
    And here’s to all the misfits
    We belong
    And here’s to all the brains and the geeks
    And here’s to all the made up freaks
    Yeah we belong

    And when the same old voices say
    That we’d be better off running away
    We belong, we belong, anyway

    And here’s to all the one hit wonders
    And here’s to all the mistakes and the blunders
    We belong
    And here’s to all the fashion don’ts
    And here’s to all the Friday-night-home-alones
    We belong

    And when the same old voices say
    That we’d be better off running away
    We belong, we belong, anyway

    And here’s to all the outspoken minorities
    And here’s to those who chose diversity
    We belong, we belong

    And when the same old voices say
    That we’d be better off running away
    We belong, we belong, anyway
    And when the same old voices say
    That we’d be better off running away
    We belong, we belong, anyway

  53. Pingback: The Child You Love. Period. Full Stop.

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