Father's Day is one of the most difficult holidays for me. Part of it is over the fact that I have a really ambivalent relationship with my own dad and part of it is because my kids no longer have their dad. It has been better though in the last couple of years watching first my step-son becoming a dad and watching him thrive in the role and then this last year watching my other son also becoming a dad knowing how profoundly this has changed him. Regardless of any faults these two guys may have, they understand the fundamental importance of what it means to be a dad. I couldn't be prouder.
As a girl, a daddy is suppose to be the one of the top of a handful of people in her life that remains in her heart forever. A daddy is suppose to be a girls first love and the person who teaches her that all men should be held to a certain standard in her life. He should be the one that loves her fiercely and is willing to do everything from having that tea party, to helping her through the rough patches of life. He is suppose to let her wrap herself not only around his little finger, but also completely and totally around his heart. He should be her biggest cheerleader and also the one she fears disappointing the most. He should love her without condition, support her dreams and guide her to be a confident and proud woman.
I have a dad but I never had any of those things. I had the best my dad knew how to give, but I never was his little girl. Now don't get me wrong, as I have said before, I am not feeling sorry for myself. I did have a dad in my life, however...the father/daughter road we took ended us to a place of co-existence but never understanding, respect or even friendship. We are just two people cast in these roles in life with no instruction guide to get us through. At 50+ years old though, I have finally gotten to the point in my life that I can say, I understand....sort of. It doesn't erase the years of hurt, sometimes embarrassment and often times anger that my dad acted as he did, but knowing him as an adult and being an imperfect adult myself......I do have a better understanding of possibly why he acted as he did and while it doesn't change the past it does make it so that I can completely forgive him for the hurt I have held within me all these years.
So to you fathers out there that like my own dad who were not given that owners manual to raising your kids (especially your daughters) I would like to give you a few words of advice from a daughter, a child and someone who grew up feeling anything but loved:
Being an absentee dad is not being a dad and you can be physically there and emotionally absent. That is almost as bad as not having a dad at all. Remember dads...you are your daughters example of how men should treat women and how your daughters should expect to be treated in the future. You are also your sons example of how a real man should act, love and treat women. Ignoring your kids in favor of your own wants and desires makes them feel as if they are an imposition and unworthy of your attention. This is something they take through life. As a father, you are molding your kids, they need discipline and guidelines....but they also need acceptance, understanding and encouragement. Again....how you treat them when they make mistakes and even fail from time to time and how you make them feel on these occasions is going to be what they take on into their adult life and it will be a direct reflection of how they feel about trying, failing and themselves. Also remember that the kind of parent you are now is not the kind of grandparent you will be in the future. Age and wisdom will change your views and you will soften, learn and grow. When you get to that point in life, you want to see your own children's parenting skills to be a positive reflection of what they learned from you. No grandparent wants to see a miserable grandchild and know that their previous actions when they were parents was the catalyst for this. Most of all, remember that you may not have lots of money and you may not be able to always supply your kids with the latest video game, the smartest phone or a brand new car, but regardless of income or social status, you can always give them the greatest gifts of all......your heart, your time and most of all......your unconditional love.
Now to all you dads out there.....and I know some phenomenal ones......I hope you can take today to relax, enjoy and know just how great you are to the ones who call you "daddy!"
Happy Fathers Day