Too often we hear about the sadness that results from dads falling short on their responsibilities. We blame absenteeism on dads. We blame inadequacies on unpaid child support. We blame dads (who’ve moved on and started new families) for those ill-feelings that the oldest kids experience. These are amongst the many things that cause their sons and specifically their daughters to have “daddy issues.”
Pardon me for a moment as I stand up for myself and the many fathers who have been upholding their responsibilities. It goes without saying that there are moms who will disagree. They may claim that these dads do not match the narratives that the moms have been feeding their kids. Well so be it!
The most important lesson that I’ve tried to teach my kids is that there are three sides to every story. There’s her side. There’s his side. And there’s the truth!
My kids got her side every time their mom was angry with me. Every time she observed that I was living my best life, my kids heard her side. Every time my kids told me why their mom was upset, they got to hear my side. And although I believed that I was going damage control, I was contributing to their confusion. I created a situation that forced them to decide for themselves what the truth was. And to be completely honest, they may never be built tough enough to handle the truths that either of their parents are capable of telling.
It’s story time! And the best stories are told about someone else’s drama. When it’s personal, it’s not drama. It’s trauma!
Comedian Chris Rock reminds dads that they have but one job. “Keep your daughters off the pole!” He goes on to joke that a daughter that didn’t get enough love may find herself getting even with dad by becoming an exotic dancer. It’s cringe worthy, and no less than horrifying. “Daddy issues,” he calls it.
The reality is that children who have had great dads develop daddy issues too. Kids who don’t get their way, kids who have alternatives to a caring dad, and kids who cling to moms who disparage their dad all risk developing “daddy issues.”
It’s sad that dads may be blamed for their children’s disappointments. As a dad who has fulfilled his responsibilities, I can point out that responsibility falls on parents AND children. Adulthood spans beyond blaming someone else. Raising children properly is not about giving them what they want. It’s about developing the tools necessary for our kids to get what they need.
Kids who have developed a sense of integrity are fully aware of their ability to choose their path. Our job as parents is to identify the obstacles and encourage our children to overcome them.
I want my children to achieve success with dignity. But sometimes it’s easier to blame dear ol’ dad. I suppose I could have fallen short in some ways, but I am not sure who gets to decide what the standards are (or whether a shortfall has occurred). Not mom. Not dad. And certainly not the kids. Who can be objective enough?
Daddy issues are unlike any other condition. Assigning accountability to anyone else doesn’t ring true quite the same way. One thing is certain. Thanksgiving dinners that don’t yield the biggest piece of meat for dad are very revealing.