Not All Fathers Are Dads

No, this is not a word game.  Of course, everybody has a father.  We would not have been born without one, even if he met your mother for the first time in a test tube.

Unfortunately, not all of us have had a dad.  What’s the difference? Plenty.

In my practice, I work frequently with individuals dealing with family of origin issues.  Often a client will describe a very dysfunctional relationship with his or her parents.

This past Sunday was Father’s Day.  For those of us whose Dads are gone, deceased, Father’s Day might have been a little sad.

My dad was not a perfect man nor a perfect dad, but I never doubted that he was doing the best he could.  I think he was practicing what he’d been taught either through instruction or by example.

The thing I am most positive about was that he loved me.  The other thing I’m positive about is that I wish he were still here.  I miss him every day, and no matter how imperfect he was, I would truly love to see and talk with him again.  He was my dad.

With my clients, I often find a deep yearning for a relationship with their father that for some never seems to materialize.  Time and again, I hear about fathers who, for whatever reason, have detached themselves from their children.

I have even heard of men who say it’s better for their child that they  remove themselves and allow the child to attach to a stepfather.  I don’t know if they consider themselves noble or are just being  martyrs, but unless they’re protecting their child from harm by outside forces, their action will most probably have a long-term detrimental effect on the child.

Not being a part of your child’s life has a negative effect on the child and can lead to his or her inability to develop healthy, trusting relationships.  No matter how it is explained, children always think their  father didn’t love them or they did something wrong.

A dad participates in the life of his child.  He’s present, imperfections and all.  Absentee fathers are not dads, but they can learn to be.  It’s a conscious choice.  Even prison inmates can stay connected through letters and phone calls.

This past Father’s Day I was fortunate to spend time with two excellent dads, one my husband and one my brother-in-law.  My husband is a wonderful dad to his son and his stepdaughter and  a great granddad to our grandson.

My brother-in-law, who was not blessed with biological children of his own has been a terrific dad to  his nieces and nephews, and our grandson.

Men like my husband and his brother show up and participate in the lives of these children.  They choose to be present.  After hearing them talk about their own dad, I think they had a good role model.

I hope you have, or had, a dad like that in your life, related or not.  Think about it, and be good to you.


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