During the weeks leading up to Father's Day, I've been asked several times to write about the impact of my father on my parenting. "What are those lessons that you learned from your dad?" Well, I don't enjoy that question so much. That would be because I've spent the majority of my life without my dad, by his choice. But, what if I did respond to these requests? What would those lessons look like? Probably something like these.
1) 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 than what you promised. (Yep. My dad was a culprit of this practice.)
2) 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.)
3) 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?)
There are so many of us who grew up without fathers around. For some of us, it was an untimely death, others incarceration. I know of friends who had a father in the military. For me, it was a father who couldn't and didn't live up to his responsibilities. So, when people ask me to reflect on my father during that time of year, I get a little resentful. I still remember a 2nd 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. I was told that didn't matter. I needed to do this assignment or I would have my report card ripped up.
What I have realized 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 questions to perhaps broaden their line of questioning. Find a way to be more inclusive and less simplistic. Because you might be missing out on a good story and stifling a voice.