Apparently on Oprah there’s been a lot of discussion lately about fatherless sons and daughters. I don’t watch Oprah’s network, so I have no idea what that’s all about. But tomorrow is Father’s Day, the TODAY show just did a whole week of inspirational real dad stories, everyone on Facebook is loving all over their dads, and other than the World Cup, Twitter is full of Father’s Day sentiments. Not to mention the ads on good old fashioned television telling us what we need to buy for dear old dad on this special day.
But guess what? Not everyone has a dad, or at least not one with whom they have a relationship.
In 2000, I sent my father a letter telling him that unless he grew up and accepted responsibility for his actions (past, present, and any in the future), he could stop calling me, because I needed a father who was going to engage in life as an adult would, not as someone with the emotional maturity of a two-year old.
And I haven’t heard from him since.
It’s been suggested that my father’s emotional short-comings are related to some frontal-lobe damage he received as a result of being hit by a car when he was out jogging, sometime while my mom was pregnant with me. But back in 1970, they didn’t have all the tools they have now to examine brains and blood flow and potential damage to specific areas. From what his family told me before they all passed away, he was a totally different person before and after the accident, and my mom is in agreement with that point.
Which is too bad, because I don’t know the pre-accident father. I only know the man as he was for the first 30 years of my life, and I made the decision that our relationship was too toxic for me to stay actively engaged in it.
When I was a kid, I idolized my father. He could do no wrong. He bought me cool clothes and fun toys and let me drink Coke and eat cookies all weekend when I was visiting him. He would take me roller skating, or bike riding, or anything else I wanted to do.
Of course, he didn’t pay child support.
And he only remembered to pick me up on weekends when it was convenient for him. There were several occasions when I was left at dance class or the babysitter’s house, waiting for him to come get me, only to see my mom show up hours late because he was once again a no-show.
He was a master manipulator. If he did something to upset you, he never apologized because it wasn’t his fault, it was YOUR fault for getting upset at whatever he had done. You choose the way you feel and the way you allow things to effect you, so if you were upset, that was your choice. He was blameless, regardless of the situation.
My parents divorced because he cheated on my mom multiple times. She would have proof of said cheating, but he would deny it and tell her it was all her imagination. Deny, deny, deny. It’s a great strategy to take through life, if you have no conscience. It also made my mom, and plenty of other people who were at the receiving end of his denials, feel like they were going insane.
But here’s my point. (Please, dear God, let there be a point to this post.) Not everyone has a dad with whom they can celebrate Father’s Day. If you do, treasure it, and treasure him.
And if you ARE a dad, whether you’re married or separated from the mother, STEP UP TO THE PLATE. Kids need dads. It’s the first man in their lives, and someone they are supposed to be able to rely on, trust, and learn life lessons. Dads are part of a child’s basic foundation, and without dads, there is something inherently missing from a child’s life, no matter how hard the mom tries to raise the child on her own. Girls learn how they are supposed to be treated by men by watching her parents interact. They develop a sense of security and a sense of self-worth from their relationship with their father and from his demonstrating that he will always be there for her, throughout the ups and downs of life.
There are plenty of studies and books and journal submissions about what happens to a girl who grows up without her father, I don’t need to go through them all here. As a 43-yr old female who is and will remain single, I can assure you that the absence of a reliable male figure from my early life had a real effect on the choices I’ve made throughout my life.
So, treasure your fathers if they are worthy of such sentiment. Men, make sure you ARE worthy of such adoration.