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Daddy Issues

21 January 2013, 09:14

I have been appointed (or deemed fit) to front up a family of six. Not in my wildest dreams was I ever going to have a family of this size, I fact, I would've waged my life’s earnings against it! Alas, I met my wife after a quick divorce with my ex, out of which the ex and I bore one child together.

I adopted her son from a previous encounter to make my total tally two. My current wife brought her two into the equation, and suddenly we had two of each sex specimens, ranging from six to twelve years old. Ironically, not one child shared the same father. While I’m trying to explain this in writing, I still get mystified, confused even; I mean, all I ever did up to the age of 29 was rock along life’s by-ways.

The upbringing of this mixed bunch was never going to be plain sailing and I learnt things I would have never even thought of; one of which, stood out like a flag on a battlefield.

The mother is usually the convener of the family. She’s the glue that sticks all together with love, advice, tenderness and food. I say food because it is such a major part of our life which we can share with people we love and enjoy. The mother is also usually more in-depth involved in the lives and emotional state of the children. This is not necessarily so in all families, but from what I have seen so far; the majority.

I have experienced first-hand what the father means to his children. I see the father basically as an example for girls and boys alike. The way he handles his wife, the way he treats his friends, colleagues, strangers and nature. Although today’s households are more of a democratic affair between husband and wife; to the kids, the father is still the model for the boys, and example of how women and children should be treated, for the girls. This is why I cannot fathom what men are thinking of when they disappoint a child’s expectations or trust.

Sure there are some women around who are sometimes even worse in that regard, but women (overall) tend to think twice about their off-spring before embarking on any slippery slope. I am merely speaking as a man in a family, so I don’t want to risk this becoming a psychological evaluation of family life. I’ll just get on with it.

My stepson’s father has been a non-present entity since he was born, up to the present day. Some holidays he would visit his father but get tended to by house help, girlfriends - and later - be on his own. During his teenage years, his father was drunk most of the time when my stepson visited, and also did the experimenting with alcohol no good. I have seen the man (if I push myself to recognise him as one) a grand total of 5 times during a span of 15 years. His parents had to see to it that my stepson received some monetary and health support, which really says it all.

My stepdaughter’s father is a smooth talker. He’s the kind of guy who saw that I took care of his daughter and decided to never contribute a cent toward her upbringing; much worse than that, he decided not to contribute in any way at all – while she still regarded him as her father. The best was that he still had the audacity to call her his “little princess”, on the few occasions she visited him. He organised to pick her up at my home once, when she was 9 years old. She chose the best dress and after half an hour waiting, decided to go and wait in the street. After one and a half hours, there was no father, not even a phone call. Man; that broke my heart. Here I was standing at the window and looking at a little girl, peering up and down in the street with tears in her eyes. Suffice to say it would have been his last day here, if he pitched.

My stepson subsequently had a brush with drug addiction and my stepdaughter still has major man trouble. I have felt guilty for not insisting on doing more on an emotional level and being a father figure - to step in where the other “fathers” bungled it, and I still do.

To me these years were such an eye opener of how much a father really contributes to the forming of children. All he has to do is to be sincere, loving, and dependable and, basically; be there. I was a youngster too, and I don’t think we, as young men, always grasp what huge responsibility it really is to guide a baby to become an adult. Unplanned pregnancies and divorces do happen, but that is never an excuse to run away from responsibility. Suffice to say that the likes of the above “fathers” contribute to a potential problematic adult pool of future generations.

Men have to be men.

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