One of the most difficult jobs we have as dads, is the duty to protect our children. Some days it’s protection from the school bully. Other days, its protection from adult worries like potential economic tsunami’s. We tell them to wear helmets. We give lectures on safe driving. But what do you do when you have to protect your children from the very people closest to them? When an adult child has a difficult parent, who is now a difficult grandparent, it can really complicate already complex issues.
It’s easy to spot the intruder, the outsider, the one lurking in the shadows. We are prepared for them. We’ve trained using their likeness. Unfortunately, as is the case with countless abused women, the culprit is someone they know, someone on the ‘inside.’ A little more background for you to understand where I’m coming from. I have a good buddy of mine whose father had a lot of great intentions. He never had any great actions, but he had lots of intentions. He was trying to “make a better life” for his wife when he gambled them into massive debt. He was “rebounding” when he won a couple thousand and didn’t tell her about it. He was “on to something” when my friend and his sister found out he hadn’t deposited his wife’s paycheck in months, but rather was pulling cash to buy lottery tickets so he wouldn’t be found out.
He was “just being honest” when my friend’s son was confirmed in the church and said to him, “this was the saddest day of my life, watching him get sprinkled.” “If you read the bible,” he said. . . My friend was more than hurt. What do you do, when the ones closest to you are the ones tearing you down? Kids do not comprehend the splitting hairs of religious belief. As far as that kid was concerned, he had confirmed a belief that a higher power was central to his existence, was eager to see him succeed, was there, even when no one else was.
The damage fathers can do is enormous. Society would like to tell you that we don’t matter. Moms can raise kids all by themselves. Fathers are a relic, once quite central to the family, but no longer necessary. And the myth grows and grows because we also, sometimes ourselves, buy into that lie. We live the illusion.
We accept that things are a certain way and we continue on in mediocrity, believing that because people are our friends, our family, our trusted advisers, that they must have an accurate perception of what is best for us.
All the while, we sit back and allow this to happen, kids are changing. Many are learning to have intimate relationships with glowing screens and music apps, while dad is a virtual ghost in the home and in their lives.
Sometimes damage can be undone, but not always. As we think of the growing number of cases of violence from younger persons, we must stop and ask ourselves, how much could have been prevented? I’m not saying every act of violence occurs because of an absent father, but I am also not saying that it isn’t a major factor.
Time to take the house back dad. Learn your weaknesses, before they become those of your children. You don’t need to volunteer, or be PTA President – you just need to be Dad – on purpose.
Chris Taylor is the father of four, and a huge college football fan. He serves as a public health official in Texas, community volunteer and publisher of BeSafe Child, a local parenting magazine in his home town area. Chris has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and is a Credentialed Mediator/Arbitrator. Working in health care and public service for more than fifteen years has left him jaded and tired, but passionate about fatherhood.