So I have experienced, and have talked to a lot of friends and family, and see there are really only three types of dads: those that fuck you up, those that are there – but not there, and those that kick ass. Which are you?
The fuck up – These dads have major issues. Abuse. Addiction. Absence. These fuckers only care about themselves. They may or may not be good people, but they’re lost in their own world. These men ignore, or sporadically give their kids attention and therefore, their kids end up with major “daddy issues.” The daughters are strippers, or meandering and looking for a male role model, or will latch on to the first stable thing she sees – animal, mineral, or lesbo. The worst leave and check out, leaving the child rearing to a (usual) bitter single-mother who instills this bitter mother attitude. This all rolls down to the kids, and sincerely fucks them up for a long time… permanently if you don’t take a large effort to unravel this pain and recreate yourself. Not Good. Hopefully, none of my readers are in this camp. If you are, my condolences. One of my best friends had a combo of abuse/addiction growing up (though they spent time in the summers), with a nice result of estrangement as adults.
The Indifferent – I would venture to say this is the majority of dads today. They do the best they can. Work hard for the family, but fall asleep on the Lay-Z Boy at night watching baseball or CSI or whatever. They defer to the wife on 90% of things from vacation location to dinner to school function. Dads of this ilk simply check out after a hard day, forgetting that their working wife (be it a SAHM or literal working wife) has had the same type of day. Carry over from decades past. Oh, they’ll show up at your games and shows, but won’t really play an active part. You’ll hear an attaboy or attagirl from them, but mostly they’re riding on the wave of life, instead of playing an active part.
My dad was one of these. He worked hard hours, busted his chops, provided for his family. He saw my sport events from youth to adult, and comes to my own kids’ events as a grandfather. But he was an alcoholic for much of my youth, generally is introverted, and left me and my brothers to ourselves. We occasionally went to the park to play baseball, or kite. And we went camping a bunch as a kid. It was a mixed bag, and I think that is what 70% of us deal with. Not a Hero. Not a Villian.
The Kick-Ass – This dad is rare. He’s the ones who gets up in the night to deal with a sick kid. The one who is there (most nights) to say goodnight and tuck their kids in. The ones who actually go into the uncomfort zone and volunteer to be a coach. Or to be on the PTO. Or to be a Scout leader. Or any number of things we wished our own dads had time for. To help with the dinner, slap your mom on the ass with giggles on her part, with a visible kiss on her mouth later. That’s what we all need to strive to be.
This dad knows lots of things, and passes it down to their kids. Finances. Health, Cooking. Dealing with girls/women. Confidence. How to chop wood or make a fire. A million things that the iPad can’t teach them. Are you that dad? Or do you try to be? Maybe you work late or out of town, but can’t commit. But do you lock down when you get home? Spend more time away from the house, doing things and learning things? Hiking and looking at the microcosm of the world? Let the kids explore on their own, but be there to give your own thoughts. And be involved. Take the kids away without their mom and have mini-adventures (like guy’s weekend with your boys, or dad-daughter time with your girls). My own mom still talks about how her dad used to sneak her into Lambeau Field. Don’t ever underestimate the powderkeg of influence you have on your children’s lives.
So on this Father’s Day weekend, let’s recognize that dads are really complicated and have their own dimensions and interests. Love yours in the way you can, and love your kids in your own way too. Our dads were like that, and those of us who are dads are too. We’re a mix of wild-beast, renaissance man, sexual dynamo, and sedentary being. But those with kids need to remember what the goal is at all times: give our kids an opportunity to succeed, pass on our DNA to the next generation, and to love them as much as we possibly can. So they too can love and continue the positive cycle.
So regardless of what type of father you have, thank them for giving you life and allowing you to be the person you are today.
And while I’m late for any gift, this is awesome. I’m an anti-morning person. Snooze goes easy peazy. But this alarm clock makes you pick up a laser gun, and shoot your alarm clock to snooze. Have fun!