University of Notre Dame head basketball coach Mike Brey
University of Notre Dame head basketball coach Mike Brey

On Saturday, University of Notre Dame head basketball coach Mike Brey showed what good character really looks like, and it had nothing to do with basketball. Indianapolis  Star columinist Gregg Doyel reports:

He didn’t tell anyone. In the hours before his team played Butler for a spot in the Sweet 16, Notre Dame coach Mike Brey’s mom died suddenly at age 84. Those hours came and went, and he told nobody. Not his players. Not his coaches.

Brey was at the team meal in the morning. He was at shoot-around. He was there for lunch and meetings and the endless afternoon the Irish spent Saturday, watching NCAA Tournament games elsewhere and waiting for theirs to start at close to 10 p.m.

Brey’s wife knew somebody at Notre Dame should know, and she knew her intensely private husband wouldn’t be saying a word about it, so Tish Brey called Notre Dame assistant AD Bernadette Cafarelli – the basketball team’s director of media relations – early Saturday afternoon. Cafarelli told a few athletic department officials.

Mike Brey went on with his day.

“I didn’t want to put that on them before the game,” he said later, after Notre Dame had defeated Butler 67-64.

That statement by Brey is the essence of it: he refused to burden others with his problem. As the full column makes clear, Brey was strongly affected by his mother’s death, but he bore it himself with dignity and grace. It is in such moments that one reveals one’s true character.

With that in mind, the full column is well worth reading.

Such self-denial is far from easy, of course, and it’s all too tempting to pursue one’s self-interest exclusively in any particular case and justify it to oneself. But that’s one of the things about taking the course that’s easiest for oneself: it typically makes things more difficult for others.

Sometimes agonizingly difficult, in fact. Writing at The Federalist, children’s rights advocate Heather Barwick makes a poignant plea for understanding for a group of people whose struggles receive little attention: children of same-sex couples: “Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting.”

Barwick is the daughter of a lesbian couple, and her essay lays bare another manifestation of unintended effects of our natural and understandable desire for personal fulfillment and belief in the overwhelming value of honesty:

Growing up, and even into my 20s, I supported and advocated for gay marriage. It’s only with some time and distance from my childhood that I’m able to reflect on my experiences and recognize the long-term consequences that same-sex parenting had on me. And it’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day, that I can see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting.

Same-sex marriage and parenting withholds either a mother or father from a child while telling him or her that it doesn’t matter. That it’s all the same. But it’s not. A lot of us, a lot of your kids, are hurting. My father’s absence created a huge hole in me, and I ached every day for a dad. I loved my mom’s partner, but another mom could never have replaced the father I lost.

I grew up surrounded by women who said they didn’t need or want a man. Yet, as a little girl, I so desperately wanted a daddy. It is a strange and confusing thing to walk around with this deep-down unquenchable ache for a father, for a man, in a community that says that men are unnecessary. There were times I felt so angry with my dad for not being there for me, and then times I felt angry with myself for even wanting a father to begin with. There are parts of me that still grieve over that loss today.

I’m not saying that you can’t be good parents. You can. I had one of the best. I’m also not saying that being raised by straight parents means everything will turn out okay. We know there are so many different ways that the family unit can break down and cause kids to suffer: divorce, abandonment, infidelity, abuse, death, etc. But by and large, the best and most successful family structure is one in which kids are being raised by both their mother and father.

Barwick makes it clear that she loves both her same-sex parents and has no objection to their choice. In addition, she acknowledges that traditional marriages can end in disaster. What she wants is for people to understand the consequences of the choice to raise children within a same-sex marriage:

Gay marriage doesn’t just redefine marriage, but also parenting. It promotes and normalizes a family structure that necessarily denies us something precious and foundational. It denies us something we need and long for, while at the same time tells us that we don’t need what we naturally crave. That we will be okay. But we’re not. We’re hurting.

If anyone can talk about hard things, it’s us.

Kids of divorced parents are allowed to say, “Hey, mom and dad, I love you, but the divorce crushed me and has been so hard. It shattered my trust and made me feel like it was my fault. It is so hard living in two different houses.” Kids of adoption are allowed to say, “Hey, adoptive parents, I love you. But this is really hard for me. I suffer because my relationship with my first parents was broken. I’m confused and I miss them even though I’ve never met them.”

But children of same-sex parents haven’t been given the same voice. It’s not just me. There are so many of us. Many of us are too scared to speak up and tell you about our hurt and pain, because for whatever reason it feels like you’re not listening. That you don’t want to hear. If we say we are hurting because we were raised by same-sex parents, we are either ignored or labeled a hater.

Barwick’s point is that the public tends to ignore the needs of children of same-sex marriages, for fear of obstructing the emotional needs of people who want to be both parents and same-sex marriage partners, and, to be frank, in fear of reprisals from same-sex-marriage activists. It’s an interesting and important argument. We can and should be sympathetic toward all parties involved in such situations, and as a consequence, Barwick and other children of same-sex marriages deserve a hearing, and equal or greater consideration than their parents, in discussions of the issue.

Finally, here’s something that will lift your spirits on a troubled Monday: a time-lapse video of views of the aurora borealis. (Read about the video here.)