Raising children can look pretty different for different families, but one thing that ties most parenting styles together is an unconditional love of one's children.
That means loving them no matter who they become as they grow, whether they're good at sports, have a successful career, struggle in school, or are gay, straight, trans or cis.
Unconditional love is just that—love without conditions or requirements.
That being said, big announcements like a kid coming out can take some adjustment. It may take some serious thought and practice to get a child's pronouns and chosen name right, or to remember that they might be looking for a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend, or both.
So it is understandable that a father might struggle a bit with that adjustment period. It doesn't, however, mean that it's acceptable to treat, or love, the child any differently than before they came out.
A New Zealand father recently wrote to an advice column because he found himself unable to accept that his 16-year-old son is gay.
Things went alright at first. When his son came out to him, he was trying to be accepting and open-minded.
Unfortunately, that didn't last.
"While, at first, I was kind of ok with it and trying to be an open-minded, accepting dad for him, in the last month it really has been playing on my mind and I feel angry, upset and disappointed with him."
One of dad's big hang-ups is an inability to accept his son's supposed "lifestyle."
"I'm finding excuses not to spend as much time with him as usual and, while I love my son dearly, I don't think I can accept it, or his lifestyle."
It seems like his son may have seen this coming, or at least worried about it, as he waited to come out to his dad until he was of age.
"He told me that his mother has known for the last year, but because he was underage, thought it would be best to wait until he turned 16 before he came out to me."
Dad is also quite concerned with what his guy friends will think.
"I'm also unable to talk to my guy friends, as none of their boys are homosexual and are the manly, blokey types of guys that probably wouldn't take kindly to this news."
The columnist, Mary-anne Scott, was kind in her response, but she didn't pull any punches. She thanked the father for reaching out, and encouraged him to seek other outside opinions as well.
She began with a bit of important perspective.
"You cannot change this situation and it's not something your son has done to deliberately hurt or upset you."
"Your son (and, in your own words: 'I love my son dearly'), has shown guts and maturity to come out to you. You would be wise to respond to him with complete love, support and loyalty."
She gave the benefit of the doubt to his friends as well, pointing out that they likely won't be as disapproving as he seems to think.
"The friends you refer to will possibly surprise you. I doubt any of those men would reject their sons under any circumstances."
"You describe them as manly, blokey types and there's an implication of strength in your description. But strength isn't an on-display thing."
She also points out that the person showing real strength in this situation is his son, who had the courage and trust to come out to him not knowing how he would respond.
She then cautioned him not to make any decisions that might put a permanent wedge in his relationship with his son, especially based on his perceptions of what his son's "lifestyle" would be like.
"It's important you don't muck this up. Don't make a choice that separates you both, because you're worried about a group of men you call friends, or because of an imagined lifestyle that your son may or may not lead."
"You would've held this boy as a baby and promised to love and protect him no matter what. This is no matter what. Believe in your future together."
She closed with a mild admonishment, and the most important advice.
"The boy you fathered is gay – it's not a big deal. Just support him, love him and get on with being his dad."