What’s Your Tipping Point for Disassociating From a Loved One?

No matter what your child says or does, stand by them and love them. All of us must find our own way, and live up to our own decisions whatever they may be. Love them stronger than their actions or words, love them because they are your children.-Anonymous

I unequivocally love my son. He is four years old and the world to me. I tell him everyday that he is my one and only baby and that he will always be. I tease him (though he doesn’t quite understand it at this age) that when he is in college I will call his dorm room asking for my pooper baby. I chuckle at my own idea. Every morning I tell him I love him no matter. I once brought my son to work and a colleague came into my office right as I was telling my son that I would love him no matter what. Even if he were to turn out to be a Dexter (you know that serial killer television show), I would help him bury the bodies. The colleague who overhead loudly gasped and noted that she didn’t think it was funny. Of course, she doesn’t have a child. She left shaking her head noting what I said wasn’t right. What had I said that was so wrong and so disturbing? Wouldn’t you do anything for your child? Hmm. I guess there is a line, a tipping point, at which you must take a tough love stance.

On one of my many business trips I was left to ponder this question even more. I missed my child incredibly and was suffering from a horrible sinus infection. I must stop traveling so much one of these days. At that point the news outlets broke the news that the three missing women held (allegedly) for a decade by Ariel Castro were found.  Within a day, there were interviews with various family members. I recall seeing CNN Early Start anchor Zoraida Sambolin interview Maria Castro Montes, Ariel Castro’s cousin. The cousin very quickly into the interview noted that she had loved him at one point but they had grown apart. She even said “You know, we’re a good family, and, unfortunately, every villain out there has a family, that has nothing to do with what they have done and what their actions are.”  The interview actually shocked me to the core. I had just been joking how I would love my son no matter what, but look at what this monster did to these three women. How do you love that? Soon enough, the cameras caught Ariel Castro’s mom disowning her son. An interview with his daughter showed her stating that she never wanted to see him again.  I cannot imagine the pain and agony someone must feel to have to state their father, their son was essentially dead to them.

Can you imagine that this baby son you nursed, you bathed, you diapered, you protected and adored could turn out to be a monster?  How does someone come back from that? Reportedly, Ted Bundy’s mother loved him to the end of her days. Last November, Tricia Lammers, called police to warn them that she believed her son was getting ready to commit a mass shooting at a local movie theater. After his arrest, she gave a brief press conference where she stated “First and foremost I am a mother and I love my son very, very much.”  Because she loved him she stopped him from committing mass murder. After his arrest, she still loved him.  A few years back, there was a TV show that documented the lives of murderers’ mothers ( ).  The mothers are psychologically all over the place from feeling guilt, to having reached some inner peace. Some maintain their son is innocent; while another spends much of her time in an anxious state of mind worrying that her son will be killed while incarcerated for what he did.   Jeff Williams, the father of Andy Williams who at the age of 15 opened fire in the school toilets and then in the school quad, killing two and wounding 13, stated I’ve never stopped loving Andy. He’s my son. He made a terrible mistake, which he will be paying for for the rest of his life, but that doesn’t make me stop loving him.”

But blood is supposed to be thicker than water right? We all know that proverb and have been told this repeatedly; sometimes in the guise of trying to get away with something. It is usually used to remind family members that their allegiance should always remain with their family first Originally, that phrase was a German proverb.  However, surely at some point blind unreasoning loyalty based on any association becomes questionable.  But let’s be clear loyalty is not the same as love.  In case you were wondering literally how much thicker blood is the viscosity of blood = 3-4 centipoise and the viscosity of water = 1 centipoise, so blood is 3 to 4 times thicker than water.  In the 1970s, there was a serial killer in New York City by the name of “Son of Sam”  who had been given up at birth because he was an “illegitimate” child.  Now at age 60, he has become a born-again Christian who counsels youth in prison.  Has he truly changed? Sociopaths are known for aging out of those tendencies.  Regardless, there is nothing out there in the press that notes how his adoptive or biological parents may have felt when they realized the monster he was (his adoptive mom died at an early age of cancer).  When he was arrested there were no family members to be seen amongst the spectators gathered for the “perp walk” You can catch the archival footage here In the old footage you do see a headline that says “adopted at 17 months he never got over it.” His relationship with his family was front and center for all to speculate on. Family and crime are just an emotional volatile mix.
At the end of the day you can love your child, your family member, but there probably is a point where enough is simply enough.  The love I have for my son is unconditional.  How I react to what he does is not. But the love I have for him will never fade.  I can only hope that love will carry and motivate him through all his trials and tribulations as he becomes an adult and makes his own choices. But as for that tipping point, a crime is a crime. A heinous event is heinous. No walking back from that. But love for a child, and not the crime, appears to be very hard to erase.


“Children see in their parents the past, their parents see in them the future; and if we find more love in the parents for their children than in children for their parents, this is sad but natural. Who does not entertain his hopes more than his recollections.” John Ruskin

5 replies »

  1. I don’t have children so that means I’m already pretending, but I am sure I would love my child even if he/she did something horrible. I would, probably, hate myself for whatever I did (or imagined I did) to cause such a horrible thing to happen. To me, though, burying the bodies (I know, it was just an example) would feel like forcing my childs hand on to the stove. I could never do anything to further their descent into badness, at least, not beyond whatever I may have done unintentionally.

    Your point differentiating love versus reaction is spot on. Still, it’s a nightmare scenario.


  2. This is a very interesting thought. One that I have never considered before. After pondering the scenario, one like the mother of Ariel Castro. I’m not sure I would feel guilt or feelings of disowning my child. I believe I would feel grief. A grief like that of a parent who has lost a child in a car accident, or SIDS. I would feel the most dreaded and unimaginable pain any human being can feel. The loss of a child.


  3. I dare not imagine myself in these situations. Obviously, when I read stuff in newspapers (like the Ariel Castro story), I shudder at the thought of being in his mom’s shoes, but hastily think of something else. I remember feeling awful for days after reading ‘We need to talk about Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver.


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