I have been washing my hands for twenty seconds for the last 19 years. In fact, I know precisely when and where I learned how to wash my hands properly. It was at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, California when my older son was born and in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The sink was right outside the door and as anxious as I was to get to him every day, I had to first wash my hands carefully and correctly. Instructions were posted just above the faucets.

Now I find myself texting my older son to make sure he is washing his hands often and in the prescribed way. This current health crisis has me thinking, have we properly prepared our son to take care of himself and his family, to care for his community? Did we raise him to be a good citizen in times of crisis?

I do feel at peace that we have. Partly because as he set off I handed him my book, the letter I wrote for him, to make sure I left nothing unsaid.

And while I probably can’t quell your fears or anxieties, writing a letter to your child is a good way to get some peace of mind.

A good place to start is to put yourself back in your own shoes as you were on the precipice of adulthood. What do you wish you knew? Share all your steps and missteps. Try not to scrub off, smooth over any of the mistakes you made, otherwise the letter will be useless to your child. Stay real not just hopeful.

Most importantly, writing a letter to your child is an act of love, which they will receive as such, cherish, and learn from. Take care of yourself and each other.

With Love,

Richie Jackson

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  • Richie Jackson is the author of the book Gay Like Me published by HarperCollins, an opinion columnist for The Advocate, and an award-winning Broadway, television, and film producer who produced the Tony Award-nominated Harvey Fierstein’s Torch Song on Broadway and executive produced Showtime’s Nurse Jackie (Emmy and Golden Globe nominee for “Best Comedy Series”) for seven seasons. As an alumnus of NYU, he endows a program at his alma mater to train the next generation of LGBTQ+ activists called the Richie Jackson LGBTQ+ Service Fellows. He and his husband, Jordan Roth, were honored with The Trevor Project’s Trevor Hero Award. They are the proud parents of two extraordinary sons.