Monday, June 7, 2010

A thorny issue

You know, I never thought growing up without Dad bothered me that much or that I was 'emotionally scarred' in any way as a result of not having a present father, but its odd how the emotional reaction kicks in when there's prompting.

When I was a kid, I used to be a bit envious of friends who had dads, and if they were nice dads, I used to 'borrow' them, joining in the family activities. Apart from the occasional gnawings of jealousy, I remember being a happy child and feeling as if I had a full and nurturing family.

It used to make me cross when teachers and school psychologists referred to me as coming from a 'broken home', a circumstance to which they used to ascribe all my intractable behavior (and I was very intractable). I wanted to take credit for my own behavioral aberrations. I was proud of them. I didn't think my parents deserved any credit, and I still don't. I honestly don't think I'd have been a 'good' child even if Dad had been around.There's no way of knowing for sure, because he wasn't.

He used to visit sometimes, and the frequency of the visits increased after I called him 'Uncle' when I was just five or six. Its the most manipulative bit of behavior I can remember being guilty of. I definitely knew what I was doing and why, and it worked. People just don't realize how clever kids can be. Kids are supposed to be all innocent and a bit gormless. They know it, and they use it to advantage on occasion.

Then Dad married again, and his new wife had two children of about our age. The visits all but stopped, and he used to talk about 'Our children' (my step brother and sister) and 'Your children' (my brother and I, now the miraculous result of human parthenogenesis). I suppose that hit me on the raw a bit, it still makes me squirm, but it was hardly traumatic. Kids are resilient. They take life as they find it.

I was thinking about growing up without Dad recently, and suddenly, I got all emotional about it: angry, my hands were actually shaking. Its ridiculous that something I've never thought bothered me that much should affect me so strongly at an age when it honestly shouldn't matter to me any more. I'm not really angry with him, but I'm angry about being without him even though I understand why he wasn't there.

Once again, I find myself thanking God (who I don't believe in) that I don't have kids. I'll never be 'mature' enough. I don't think anyone is. Grown ups are just big kids with more issues and worse habits. Its a pity kids don't realize it.


  1. I have a friend who's dad wasn't around while he was child, no letters, no phone calls, no visits...etc but some time in to his twenties his dad came around & said "son, I want a relationship with you". My buddy said to him "no thanks, you weren't around when I needed you & now I don't need you". I told him "that was rad" & I hoped that if I was in his shoes I would have done the same things, but I guess every situation is different

    I've been reading your blogs for the past few days & I have enjoyed reading them very much!

  2. Must say, I agree with your friend. His case is on the extreme side. Dad was ok on material support, we saw him now and then and agh, he was just getting on with his life, which I understood even then. Only thing is, we'll never be what you'd call 'close'. Ironically, his step children shunned him after he divorced their mom, and now my brother and I are all he has. We hardly know him, how are we to love him?

  3. You've been a strong person throughout your life- so a little anger at this point- why not? I don't have kids for many of the same reasons. I would not have made a good parent. I figure it's my one big contribution to the whole global over population thing. More people should consider it.

  4. The thing is that there are kids who are more intelligent than many adults will ever be, and I was one of them. Much of my childhood was spent raging in impotent fury at patronising adults with sweets and hair-ruffling tendencies. Also: having seen a doc about young parents who raise their kids literally on cheap biscuits, I am convinced there should be parenting tests. It's much harder to crash a car than a human life.