Before we begin, let me clarify. I use the title “dad” to refer specifically to any man that is proactively involved in the development and well-being of his child, biological or not. This title should not be taken away from fathers who are incarcerated or otherwise unwillingly separated from their child, if that man is still, to the best of his ability, proactively involved in his child’s development, and well-being. As the old adage goes, “Any man can be a father…”.
Okay, now that this clarification has been made, I’d like to offer up some insight that I have gained as a “dad” to share with all of you “dads” out there. But before I begin, rather, before you begin—to question my credibility, that is, let me share with you a snippet of my background.
I have been a “dad” for twenty years, several years longer than I have been a “father”. I’ll give you a moment to sort that out, if needed.
Alright. I have nine children ranging in age from 7 to 20, some biological, others not; as far as our relationships are concerned? I love them, and lead them, all the same. The term “step” is not allowed in our home, be it for parents or siblings, that term only serves to define, fuel, and, in many cases, even create an atmosphere of division, and I strongly discourage any blended family from using it.
Now, I understand many of you dads out there have been doing this way longer than I have, and I would be eternally grateful for any advice you’re willing to share with me. This post will offer insight to the dads that haven’t gotten here yet, as well as encouragement for dads of any length of time. And I promise to keep it brief (how’s that for a win, win?).
The most important thing I have learned as a dad, a father, and a son (to a father and a dad), is that no matter how much a child may attempt to suppress the natural tendencies to love or, at the very least, honor you, if you love or, at the very least, honor that child, there will develop a constructive relationship that will last a lifetime.
As dads we have a tendency to overthink things. When those brief moments of clarity cut through the blur of the, otherwise, unbroken stream of life’s inexorable events. When we begin to question the quality of our relationships, ponder the effectiveness of our feeble attempts at affection, and fear the possibility of long term emotional damage resulting from our own emotional inconsistencies. It’s at these times that we need to remember one thing.
You’re a “dad”.
And if you have loved and honored this child, this child will love and honor you. Even if your child is an adult now, and you haven’t seen eye to eye in years, if you have loved and honored him, he will love and honor you. Even if it’s not until long after you have passed on (trust me). Now you may be asking, “What good is a constructive relationship after I’m dead?”, and I’ll ask you, when is a “constructive” relationship ever not good? You see, by laying a foundation of love, support, and encouragement, you build what any man would gladly give his life for ten times over. A legacy.
It may be too late to right the wrongs you’ve done, but it’s never too late to say, “I love you”.