Real Dads Don’t Leave
I am admittedly very upset right now over a heated conversation that just took place, and I don’t know where else to release that steam. I’m sure I’ll step on some toes in the process. I usually do. Frankly, I don’t care this time. Dads need to stop leaving their kids, and I’m tired of men not being the ones to say it. I’m tired of the world tip-toeing around these guys’ feelings. I’m really tired of society acting like such behavior is now “normal” or “expected”. I’m tired of the media making light of it. I’m tired of the emails and comments from endless mothers who’ve been thrown under the bus. More than anything, I’m tired of dads not taking their responsibilities and duties seriously.
As far as I can tell, there are three kinds of dads who willingly “leave” their kids.
The first simply leaves. He packs up, he walks away, and he wants nothing to do with his child or his child’s mother.
This man is not a man at all. He is a coward. He is a lazy and an ignorant little boy who cares nothing for those whom he has been enlisted to provide for and protect. His self-centeredness and narcissism rank him among the most selfish human beings on the planet. He is a quitter, a deserter, and a weakling.
Sadly, he’ll never fully realize what he left behind. His own rationalizations and reasoning blind him to anything but a life of justification and attempts to forget his wrongful deed. He’ll never know of the hundreds of Saturday morning snuggles that could have been his. He’ll never know of the hundreds of colorful drawings his child would have handed him over the years, made with tiny loving hands just for him. He’ll never realize that he left behind so many trips to the park or the zoo. He’ll never know of the camping trips, fishing excursions and soccer games that without doubt would have filled him so much happiness. He’ll never realize that his self-absorption caused him to leave behind every bedtime story, pancake breakfast, bike ride, and tuck-in.
Even more sadly, he’ll never realize that he left behind a tiny person that would have looked at him as his hero. He’ll never know that he left a child who would have trusted him and loved him more than any other person reasonably should. And he’ll also never know that he left a child who would have done anything to be like him. To be like his daddy.
He’ll never understand or take responsibility for the giant hole in his child’s heart that will never be patched. He’ll never understand the anger and tears that his child will experience as he tries to comprehend a father that would vanish, and without sensible explanation. He’ll also never understand just how much harder his child’s life is going to be because of his absence.
No, fathers like this never realize, understand, or comprehend any of it. They can’t. A person can’t miss what they don’t know they never had.
Maybe it’s wrong of me, but I have neither room in my heart, nor in my ability to understand these types of fathers. I have no compassion for them. In my best attempts to fathom their decisions, I have only found anger.
But there is another kind of father who leaves as well. This dad leaves in disguise. He works to make it appear that he’s not leaving at all. He, like that first man, cloaks himself in rationalization and reasoning. He shows up just often enough to pull off his ruse, and he goes to bed each night feeling good about himself as the dad that he thinks himself to be. This second type is the divorced dad who by choice becomes nothing more than a weekend or a summer dad.
I cannot comprehend fathers that do this. I don’t understand how they can be okay with their choices, and I don’t understand how they can be okay offering such trace amounts of time and support to their children.
A dad like this is okay being a dad every other weekend and a couple weeks every summer. He’s okay spending such minimal and limited time with his child. He’s okayletting his child’s mother do the vast majority of the raising, and he is often okay watching another man step into the picture and be the dominant father figure for his own children.
He doesn’t fight to constantly be with and near his child. He doesn’t fight to be a realdad to his child. He doesn’t really fight at all.Though, he probably claims that he does. He probably spends a lot of wasteful hours telling the people in his life that he did and is doing everything he can for his child. He probably has painted a picture so pretty that even he has started to believe it.
Many of these dads hide behind phone calls and text messages to their kids. They believe that a quick check-in every so often is sufficient enough to brand themselves as “there”. They lie to themselves, they lie to others, and they lie to their kids.
Many of these dads can be wrapped under the label of Disneyland Dads. They have their children so infrequently, that when they do, it’s nothing but fun and revelry. These dads really never parent at all. A dad like this convinces himself that as long as his kid is spoiled and happy when she leaves, he’s a good dad. He’s doing his duty. After all, his kid loves him…