Parental guidance advisory: The following is not another of the sort of upbeat writeups I am known for. It is, in fact, pretty damn depressing. In my usual upbeat fashion, of course....

Let's see...where do I begin? Oh yes. Four years ago.

Four years ago...

My darling Lone and I had just had our first son, Lucas. My parents were quite happy to have become grandparents, and we invited a bunch of people to attend the christening.

Now, in my native Denmark, the lutheran-evangelical Church of Denmark has the usual Christian practice of godparents. In fact, the child is allowed several of them. Usually, there is one godmother or godfather, who holds the child for baptism (if one of the parents don't). Then, there are up to five others, called faddere, who are sort of "reserve godparents".

For Lucas' baptism, we'd invited several people who we trust to safeguard our child in the unlikely event of our deaths (this being the job of faddere). However, while Lone's brother was one of them - my brother wasn't.

There was a good reason for this - my brother is a borderline alcoholic, and he is not what I'd call a good example. In fact, he's pretty much screwed up every part of his life except the job-related part.

When my parents heard that my brother wasn't going to be a fadder, they hit the ceiling. They called me on the phone, basically threatening to absent themselves from the christening if the matter wasn't "rectified" at once.

I told them, politely, that it wasn't their business.

My father, who was doing most of the talking, hung up the phone.

That was the last I heard from them, until today.

Four years pass...

In the intervening time, I sort of waited for them to come to their senses. Of course, they didn't. I sent them polite birthday cards and Christmas cards, and never received an answer. From mutual friends, I learned that my parents apparently considered these notes impertinent - as if I was deliberately needling them.

Sometimes, silence is golden

Well, today I finally heard from my parents. Yeah. Great. I got a letter from them in the morning mail, and my sixth sense immediately told me that this was not good news. Very clever of my sixth sense, actually.

The letter contained a terse note from my father, and a copy of my parents' will. The gist of the note was that if I had anything belonging to me left in their house that I wanted, I could write and tell them so - and they'd place it in the garage for me to pick up when they weren't home.

They also informed me that they'd probably be selling the house, and any furniture and goods that weren't transferrable would be slated for destruction.

The will, upon examination, proved to be as expected. My parents have altered their will to exclude me from everything but the 25% that I am (as a life heir) entitled to, under Danish law. My brother was named chief executor, and given the remaining 75%.

Since it is to be expected that my parents will take steps to transfer their assets, while they are alive, to my brother, this effectively disinherits me with a penstroke.


Surprised? No.

Dismayed? Somewhat - but my parents' obsession with money notwithstanding, I'm fairly indifferent to the monetary loss. I'd never expected to see a penny, anyway.

Provoked? Well, no. This is really almost too comedic for me to take offense at. After all, my parents' sending me this will and the accompanying note is an act calculated to needle me. Too bad they've completely misunderstood what makes me tick.

About the only thing that bothers me is that they are effectively obliterating my entire personal history. Pictures of my childhood, gone. Happy memories, overlaid with a permanent tarnish of discomfort. You get the idea.

About the strongest reaction I've felt so far (though there may be a delayed reaction) is the understanding that this is a learning experience: it teaches me to avoid making the same mistake with my own children.

I will try to be a good father and friend to my sons, and strive to understand them. And, whatever they do, I will never disown them.