Monday, September 7, 2015

Daddy issues

published at The Standard June 21, 2015
Today is Fathers’ Day and I am sure social media will be flooded with tributes to dads, honoring them, acknowledging their role in our lives and saying they deserve the best.
There will be plenty of text messages, too, to relatives and friends who are themselves fathers. Restaurants will be full.
Newspapers and magazines in the past few days were flooded with gift suggestions, for that supposedly first man in your life.
This column, though, recognizes there are fathers of all shapes and sizes, however imperfect they may be.
There are many dads out there who lead less than ideal lives.
Some fathers do not enjoy an open and loving relationship with their kids. Some go to the extent of making their children’s lives miserable.
Some fail to work in tandem with their wives to provide for the needs of the family and secure a comfortable future for their children.
Some refuse to provide, or think of ways they can be able to provide. Deadbeat, in other words.
Some abandon their families and don’t look back.
Some are violent, physically, verbally or both, and feel entitled to doing so just because they are supposed to be the head of the family and can do whatever the hell they want.
Some fathers have long years of catching up to do with their children, for various reasons.
Some lead double lives, their families believing they are saintly and loyal when in fact they are capable of the darkest deeds imaginable.
There are many other kinds of imperfect dads. Do they deserve a Fathers’ Day?
Of course they do. It’s just a greeting, and the term “Fathers’ Day” does not make any distinctions between good dads and, ugh, less good ones.
The distinction is made instead between those who try to be good ones despite their imperfection and those who simply do not care.
Fathers are gifts. Is not God likened to a father? Does not the law say that good judgment refers to a course of action any reasonable father of the family would do?  Does not society still expect us to be proud of our fathers, by taking their last names?
Human failings are universal. Sincerity to struggle to overcome them, not quite.
•••
Remember that story that circulated on Facebook about a man who said he was abandoned by his children, all of whom were now successful professionals abroad?
Did that post not occasion vicious comments criticizing and shaming the children for not looking after the person who helped give life to them? What awful creatures! Bad karma awaits them, the commenters said.
Soon, however, the daughters told their side of the story: how their father was mean to them and their mother and how they had to fend for themselves after he had abandoned them. Shame on him, many then said, for playing the guilt game.
In the end, fathers shape us into who we are.

No comments: