Father’s Day Family Myths and Mysteries

English: A grandfather teaching his little gra...

Simmering, Vienna, Austria, June 2006. Photo by KF. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My daughters’ paternal family has a very interesting story.  On one side their great-great grandfather shared a name with a South American dictator.  The strange thing about the story however is that he just disappeared one day and was never heard of again, when his son was a child.  He had either one or two children, I’m not completely sure.  Of course he may have had more than that by another woman.

On the other side their great-great grandfather didn’t come into his daughter’s life until after her step-dad died.  At which point he got together with her mother again and they married in their 80’s. He only had one daughter.  They were all Germans who continued to speak the language and grew up on farms.  Unfortunately for this father/grandfather no one is really very fond of him.  He missed out on a lot of his daughter’s life and yet she is in charge of taking care of him now.   She plainly shares that she doesn’t feel very close to him.

On my maternal side Grandaddy…my great-grandfather, was almost a mythical creature to me.  He had 14(or so) children and he died when I was two.  Those who knew him better talk about him with reverence and mystery.  He was beloved.

All of his male children were also great, responsible fathers.  One of his sons was even a foster parent who adopted many of the children he fostered.  Another of his sons (one named after him) had as many (or more) children, except by different women.

My grandfathers are two guys that I’ve only seen a handful of times.   My maternal grandfather was in the hospital a few years ago and called upon my grandmother, who works in the hospital.   Why is he calling now?  Was the question she asked.  He was married with several children from several women and really couldn’t be bothered to keep up with his children or grandchildren, even in adulthood.

My dad is a lot better.  He has tried to keep in touch with me, and he’s seen my daughters several times.  We have had our rough patches, but it was mostly in building closeness in my younger years, and now there is a great sense of comfort.  I spent many summers with him as a child and then in middle school I stayed a year and a half.  That ended badly and I didn’t see him for awhile but I spent a year and half in high school as well.

If there ever comes a time when my dad needs me, I don’t think I’ll have a problem helping him out.  Even if just to lend him an ear or some comfort.  He is honest with me and he listens and reaches out and that is all that matters.  He has also helped me out with money and plane tickets at times, but what really creates a strong relationship is the emotional response that we share.

Now that I am not with my daughters’ father anymore I think about this a lot.  What will it mean to them and what will it mean to him?  The biological men in his family have all abandoned their children, (though a few came back later) and he doesn’t feel very close to his step-dad.

I think about a lot of fathers out there who don’t even know what their kids look like and what they’re really missing out on, by avoiding their role as a father.  All you really need to do is try and you will build a relationship with your children, no matter what you do.  As long as you keep putting in the work to connect emotionally to your children, be honest, be supportive, it will pay off in the long run.  Being a dad is not about paying child support, or giving your children gifts.  Some parents are there with their children everyday and they are still emotionally abandoned.  Don’t do that.

Reach out to your kids with honesty or you’ll become another family myth or mystery.

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