Dads

It’s ironic with Mother’s Day just around the corner, the topic of our blog for last week and this is dads.

Our fathers were the subject of lunch conversation yesterday as three of us regaled one another with tales of our bad dads.

To put it bluntly, they were all jerks. All three drug or alcohol addicts. All verbally or physically abusive to our mothers, and to us. Two of the three died young. Evidently stumbling through life inflicting and suffering pain is bad for your health.

Years after she was grown and gone from the house, one of my co-workers was arguing with her dad about how messed up he was when she was growing up. At one point he defended himself with “well, I never sexually abused you.”

The three of us erupted in shrieks of laughter. That’s setting the bar a little on the low side wouldn’t you say?

Still, as much as our dads were big jerks, they were also smart, funny, hard-working, resourceful. Each of our dads encouraged us, in ways no other man ever would, to try scary things and be successful. Yes, father/daughter land is a maze.

Back at my desk I was left wondering, have we gone down the wrong road to end violence against women and children by thinking we could somehow shove out or wall off all the bad dads? The truth is, even after they die, they still exert an influence. How do we help one another sort this out?

2 thoughts on “Dads”

  1. Hi Tyra,

    Love this blog and always enjoy your thinking. This piece prompts me to move from lurker to commenter.

    So this is your equation: smart + funny + hard-working + resourceful minus addicted, and verbally and physically abusive = jerk.

    Hmmm. Some of the women we’re serving are smart, funny, hard-working and resourceful—as well as addicted and abusive to their children. They don’t seem like jerks to me.

    And isn’t that the rub? The world would be so much more manageable if binary thinking and easy labels provided a useful guidepost: good/bad, saint/sinner, virgin/whore. Jerk!

    I think you’re right: we don’t get to wall off anyone, much less dads or moms—not if we want to effect change—in ourselves or in others.

  2. Hi Lois – Thanks so much for moving out of the lurker category! So happy to read your comment. Not sure I agree with the equation you came up with. I’d say my equation is more like smart + funny + hard-working + resourceful + addicted + verbally and physically abusive = lovable and at times loving jerks who confuse the hell out of their daughters. There simply is no walling people off – even if our dad (or husband, brother, son) is in maximum security, there is still so much relationship to navigate. That’s where we really need to help one another. Hope you comment on other blogs – always appreciate your mind and heart!

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