Family Relationships: The Fine Line Between Hope & Denial


After he came out, his mother burned his birth certificate and all his childhood photos in the front yard. She sent him a black funeral wreath that said, “In Memory of My Son.” She never talked to him again. Ever.

A son’s honesty with his parents failed to yield the love, compassion and forgiveness they taught him to value.

Should you always have hope? Is it ever time to let go?

This is Rob, Susan’s husband, writing today.

We have heard stories of people who came out and were then rejected by their parents, by their family and friends. People who held out hope for years, even decades and the relationship finally reconciled. The family member finally came around to love, accept and affirm their gay child.

playAnd we have heard stories of people whose hope was never fulfilled. There was no reconciliation. No restoration of the relationship.  You can watch one of those storiesthe one of the gay man I mentioned at the beginning of this post – by clicking on the photo to the right. An incredible story.

So what makes the difference in how things turn out?

What is the key to knowing how long to hope for something?

I wish I had the answer.

I am not a therapist, I am just a dad of a gay child. But I love my daughter, and I love Jesus, and I do believe that as I grow, and open my eyes, and learn, and love, and forgive, I come to know more about the heart and truth of God.

The truth that you are loved – unconditionally – for exactly who you are.
Perfect, imperfect, beautiful, messy – for just you, as you are.
No conditions. No exceptions.

If you are in the situation where you feel torn, you don’t know where that line is between hope and being in denial, the advice I would offer you is…

Never let the behavior of others destroy your peace.

The only way to assure yourself of peace in the middle of a personal conflict with a family member is to take the other person out of the equation. Don’t give that person power over whether or not you have peace in your heart and life.

Rest in the full unconditional love, acceptance, and affirmation that you have from God – as you are, for who you are, perfectly created.

Just be in that truth.

It is horribly difficult – to be rejected by family, just for who you are. It’s shocking and painful. Perhaps the most pain possible. And there is absolutely nothing you can do to fix it. 

If your parents, or anyone else, do not unconditionally love and accept you, it has nothing to do with you. It may seem like it does, and if you could just figure out the right combination of words or behaviors, then you could fix it – but you can’t fix it.

Their issue is with God, and you have to leave it right there in order to find your peace.

I pray that you can do just that.

I pray you can reclaim your birthright as God’s beloved.

[To read more from Susan Cottrell, visit]

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SUSAN COTTRELL is a national speaker, teacher, and counselor with years of Biblical study and discipleship experience. Her books include: Mom, I’m Gay – Loving Your LGBTQ Child Without Sacrificing Your Faithas well as How Not to Lose Your Teen and The Marriage Renovation. Through her nonprofit organization – – Susan champions the LGBTQ community and families with her characteristic tender-heartedness, and she zealously challenges Christians who reject them with her wise insistence that “loving God and loving others” are the foundation of the rest of the scripture, just as Jesus said.

She is the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin, and her “Mom, I’m Gay” book has been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign and others. Sharon Groves, PhD, HRC’s Religion & Faith Program Director says, “I often get asked by parents for resources that can address the struggles of raising LGBT sons and daughters without having to leave faith behind. Susan Cottrell’s book, Mom, I’m Gay, does just that. This is the kind of book that parents will love.”

She and her husband have been married more than 25 years and have five children – one of whom is in the LGBTQ community. She lives in Austin, Texas, and blogs at and here in IMPACT Magazine’s FreedHearts and Jesus Blog columns.