I had an interesting relationship with my dad. He was my little league coach. He was my golfing partner. He called me his little buddy. He was all around just a great, great guy. I was the fourth out of 4 boys and as I look back, by the time my parents got to me (pleading for a girl I’m sure), I feel they checked out of the “parenting” department a bit.
As I got older (I was going to say ‘as I matured’, but who am I kidding?), I realized he had his demons, just as we all do, and he did his absolute best with what he had. Sadly those demons took him away from us when he was only 68.
So cheers to my dad and all the dads out there who are simply doing their best!
Which leads me to an email I received yesterday from a father whose son has had celiac disease since a young age and is now in his 20’s but refuses to take his celiac disease seriously and is paying the price for it. He is asking me for advice. And I am asking you to share yours as well. Here is his email:
I am a father of a 25 year old son who has had a celiac disease diagnosis since he was six. From puberty onwards he has more or less neglected his gluten-free diet and has had problems ever since with his education, having had mental problems like depressed feelings, anxiety, concentration problems and probably brain fog, of which I thought that at least there was a (big) chance that they (and so his complete life) could be positively influenced by him accepting his celiac disease and sticking to a gluten free diet.
In the continuing process of wanting to help him, I have given him your book some years ago because I think it has the exact right tone for people like him and so it might convince him. He didn’t read it though, which I regret very much.
He is not easy in discussions but in the latest serious discussion, he used the argument of getting more abdominal problems while sticking to a diet (he has tried it for some months a couple of years ago) and therefore the strange idea that he might not have celiac disease. I have to say here that at 6 he had both positive serology and a complete villous atrophy. So of course I have try to convince him that it is just a fact. He has celiac disease and it is not going away.
As parents we are quite desperate and even his friends see him in a position now where he makes life very hard for himself and they start to worry about his situation living on its own after a relationship breakup.
It is hard to help someone who sort of refuses it and denies his situation.
Do you have any advice which could make a breakthrough?
There’s an old proverb that says “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” In human terms, this means you’ve presented all of the facts to him, but now it’s in his hands whether he wants to take action to save himself.
I cannot imagine what his body is going through: physically and mentally. Celiac affects all parts of the body and the more he eats gluten and the more damage is done to his intestines, his condition will only worsen. I cannot fully explain why he had stomach discomfort while eating gluten-free. It could be his body adapting. It could be that he wasn’t really eating 100% gluten-free.
But it will take more than a few months eating GF for him to begin to heal. It took me years and it was only when I really changed my way of eating did I begin the healing process.
You are seriously a good man and your son is lucky. If he keeps eating gluten though, his luck may run out.
If anyone out there in celiac land has some input/advice, please share. Thank you.
Dude Note: If you’ve never heard the song Father and Son by Cat Stevens, give it a listen. I used to listen to this song over and over again when I was a kid. For some reason, it just struck a chord with me. And it still does.