I am not going to wish you a Happy Father’s Day this year, buy presents from the kids, make them sign a card or do a craft in your honor. I’m not going to praise you for your parenting skills and be thankful for your presence in our lives. It’s not my job to show you that appreciation. There will be no accolades, no applause, no admiration. You can ask your children why they didn’t show you the affection and attention you feel you deserve to receive on this day.
When I think of a father, I think of my own. A man who will do whatever it takes to make sure his children know that his love and support is unconditionally theirs. A man who works hard to provide for his family and never asks for anything in return. A dad who calls and texts, who visits, who never lets a day go by letting their child think they are anything other than cherished. I think of a man that would walk through fire to take his child’s pain away and go to ends of the earth to seek forgiveness if they were to blame for it. I think of effort, stepping up and I think of the hour long phone calls that allowed me to unleash my demons and struggles. I think of the man who has always been available to me and never put anyone above me and what I needed. I think of my daddy. My life raft in the storm of life. My person who I will always be able to count on no matter what the situation is. The man who drives eight hours just to give his daughter a hug when she is struggling. The man who is never more than a phone call away no matter where he is or what he is doing will drop everything to make sure she is ok. It’s a love and relationship like no other.
There is deep rooted disappointment and resentment that my threefold does not have that. It hurts me to see them struggle with wondering why they aren’t enough and seeking the love and attention they should receive from you in others. I’m here picking up the pieces of the children you helped create and helping them put themselves back together. When they fall apart they look for me to help them. When they breakdown in panic and overwhelming anxiety because of an interaction between you I am here hugging them, loving them telling them that you didn’t mean it and that you love them. When you are spiteful and punish them for not seeing you I sit through the therapy session holding their hand as we try to work through the trauma. When they report you for abuse I am the one who tells them that their experiences and feelings are valid and that they need to stand firm in their truth. When they are frightened to speak out against you in fear of retaliation I am the one that tells them that it will be ok. You need to hear this last part. When they slice their legs open with razor blades trying to release their pent up feelings of anger, rejection, animosity, pain, and sadness I am the one cleaning up the blood and I am the one helping them to see they are deserving of love and they are enough.
I watch my girls suffer because of your words and actions everyday. They try to quiet it but the silence is deafening sometimes. I regret coming to your defense. I regret making excuses for your behavior. I regret allowing them to suffer for many years because I was too scared to stand up and fight for them and for myself. I am to blame as well. I take my share of the burden of responsibility for this insurmountable pain they endured. The difference is I chose to be better. I chose to get them help. I chose to acknowledge their experiences and their truths. I apologized sincerely and work to show them everyday that I will never allow their feelings to go invalidated again.
Now that they are older they have chosen not to subject themselves to your continued abuse. They feel guilty for cutting you off. They want to see you fight for them, yet you sulk blaming them for their feelings and experiences. You complain that they won’t see you or speak to you and make yourself out to be the victim. You aren’t the father they deserve. You aren’t the person they can lean on when times get hard or when they want to feel heard, respected or valued. This isn’t a personal attack from me, this isn’t my spite, my anger, my own unresolved issues, or feelings. This isn’t because I want you to be the bad dad. I’ve given you every opportunity to be better for them. I’ve tried to get you involved in therapy with them, you canceled the appointments. I tried having them speak to you directly about how they feel you gaslight them. I’ve tried to speak to you regarding their feelings and you’ve blamed me, verbally assaulted me, and played the victim card. I’ve asked you to step up. I haven’t retaliated against you. I haven’t brain washed the kids. I haven’t disregarded their need for their father. You have managed to turn them against you. You have made them feel like they shouldn’t be around you to safeguard their well-being. You’ve forced them to choose. It’s sad and I’m deeply disappointed that they don’t have the opportunities to build a healthy relationship with you.
I don’t question that you care for them or that you want the best for them. I just wonder if you can ever be a parent and put their interest above your own selfish need to be right and your need to be in control. This Father’s Day I truly hope that you can find the error of your ways. That you can do some self reflection and see how much you’re hurting them. That you can begin to work to heal these relationships with your children before it’s too late. Today I hope you see their pain. Today you won’t be receiving the calls, texts, cards, presents. They have chosen not see you today and I’m sure that is cutting. Before you get angry, retaliate, make them feel bad, or say something you can’t take back I hope you will see that their lack of presence is their way of telling you to do more and to be better. I hope you come to the realization that your actions and words have a high price and it’s not just you paying it, it’s them. I hope that you have the ability to see past your own feelings and make a change. They need you too.