Saturday, October 15, 2011

of dads & daughters

I've been thinking a lot lately about dads, and more specifically how important dads are to their daughters, and how much dads get the shaft in our culture. It's kind of disgusting how we've devalued dads and sanctified moms as though we don't need both equally to grow into healthy adults. 

It's not a new thought - in the blogosphere or for me. I did a quick search of my blog before I started writing this, and in 352 posts I've used the word 'dad' 26 times - fairly equally split between praising my dad, praising some other dad in my life, or acknowledging in a book review that my dad recommended the book to me. 

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of my dad. Of both my parents, but right now we're talking about dads. And because I grew up with a father who was strong, and gentle, and silly, and capable, and prayerful, and spontaneous, and flawed but committed to his own growth, I am now able to love a man who is also a dad and also all of those things. And it's also because I have a life filled with those kinds of men that I find the vilification of fatherhood so revolting. 

Yes, I know not everyone had their dad as active in their lives as I did; I know there are some fathers who don't deserve to be called dads. And that's a tragedy. But there are a lot more dads all along the spectrum - the millions of dads who are doing their damndest every day and not getting the credit & respect they deserve.

My dad is (a very young) 70 and recently offered to try to fix the clutch on my car. That's who he is - he shows up. I can remember more than one occasion when I was a very lonely teenager and my dad would take me for a drive and a talk. Or I'd have had an explosive fight with my mom or one of my sisters and my dad would find me in my room and tell me about his fights with my auntie and how those relationships would change over time. No matter what the rest of the world looked like at times, I have never in my life doubted the love of my dad. I've disappointed him. I've worried him. I hope I haven't hurt him. And I've never ever doubted him. 

I remember driving with my mom shortly after BB2 was born - I'd flown with 2.5 year old BB1 & 3 month old BB2 to Prince George for some family time, and we were driving down to Quesnel for one last weekend at my grandparents' lake house. We were talking about how I was managing with my 2 boys, and I said "it's funny - I never believed you when we were growing up that you didn't have favourites. I always thought that either DJ or Freckles was your favourite, and that I was Dads, but now I know that when you have more children, you just have more love to give." Mom agreed, then added "... but I don't think your dad would ever have said you were his favourite ..." and I realised it didn't matter - he has the ability to make me feel like my thoughts and feelings matter. Like my stories are interesting. Like what I care about is worthwhile. 

SC2 and I were talking about it yesterday, and as she so wisely pointed out, it's with our dads that women learn to be in relationships with every man who will come behind him. It's our dads who teach us what it means for someone to love us, but also that we need men who will fight for us. Like me, SC2 is blessed with a committed, connected dad. And we both know the difference that made for us as girls and continues to make for us as women. 

So damn the TV producers and the idiotic buffoons they misrepresent as fathers. Damn angry feminists who misrepresent equality and pretend we can do it all without men. And damn the men who make dads look bad - who degrade their children's mother in front of the child, who disappear, or who linger only to break their children's spirits.

And honestly, damn all of us for not requiring more, for not supporting the dads we love, and for not saying to them - "you are needed, wanted, loved and required. Please step up. Fight for your girl like you'd fight anyone who wanted to take her away from you. When she pushes away, hold on like your life depends on it. Hers just might." 

2 comments:

  1. I miss my Dad. He passed away 11 years ago. I look just like him and was Daddy's little girl until I was 5 years old and he ran off with his mistress. I still revered him and loved our visits every other weekend ... until I was old enough to know why he left. From that moment on he could do no right. The poor man - he tried to teach good, important life lessons for the next 15 years, but I wouldn't listen because he was a horrible cheating human being who betrayed my mother. When I was in my mid twenties he sat me down. He said the doctor gave him about 10 years to live and was I going to continue to punish him for a decision he made 20 years ago. What a punch in the gut - but it was just what I needed. I had him for just about 10 more years and in those years, I realized he was wise in many ways, he had good life lessons to teach and I even accepted his second wife (his mistress) was a better match for him than my mother was. I miss my Dad and I'm so grateful he had that difficult conversation that lead to 10 years of love, respect, good parenting and making peace.

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  2. Thanks for sharing that! I'm so glad you had those first 5 (so important!) years, and the last 10 - it's great you were willing to forgive him in time to learn from him!

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