Many people grew up without fathers around. For some, it was an untimely death, others incarceration. I know of friends who had a father in the military.
For me, I grew up with a father who couldn’t and didn’t live up to his responsibilities. I spent the majority of my life without my dad, by his choice.
So, when people ask me to reflect on my father during this time of year, I get a little resentful. I still remember a second grade project I was required to complete. It was a Father’s Day card. I told my teacher that I didn’t have a father at home. The teacher said that didn’t matter. I needed to do this assignment or I would have my report card ripped up.
But what if I responded to these requests for the “lessons that you learned from your dad?” with answers from my absent dad? It would be something like this:
Make promises you can’t keep.
Tell your child you will be there to spend the day with him or her and don’t show up. Or when you do show up, do something completely different from what you promised. My absent dad was a culprit of this practice.
Threaten the personal safety of your child.
Nothing better represents the maturity needed to handle fatherhood like threatening the well-being of your child. My dad once told my mother that he would kidnap me from my school.
Buy the cheapest quality products for your child.
Buy toys that last minutes, and not because your child broke them. Search far and wide to find toys that no child has probably ever owned. My dad once gave me a Man doll. Seriously. It was just a man in boxer shorts. No accessories, not even a pair of shoes. Said Man on the package. Where did he even shop?
What I have realized over the years is that my mother is one of the primary reasons I am the father I am today. She helped me understand that a father makes sacrifices for his child. She made it clear that a father should put an emphasis on his child’s education. I even learned from her the importance of not stifling a child’s creativity.
So, I’d ask folks who pose these types of Father’s Day questions to perhaps broaden their line of questioning. Be more inclusive and less simplistic. Because you might be missing out on a good story and stifling a voice.