Fathers are so important

As a child of divorce I was always searching for my father. My parents separated when I was 6 months old, and divorced when I turned three. My brother and I visited our father on Sundays for half a day until he moved so far away that my brother never saw him again. I made an attempt to see him when I was in college and saw him twice in adulthood.

Be that as it may, I have searched for my father all my life. His loss informed my childhood. I cried. I ranted. I railed. A psychologist examined my brother and me and declared my brother fragile. He said I was resilient and that I would survive. My mother took his words to heart, and concentrated on healing my brother, who is 18 months older than me.

Even as people told me I was fine, I bled inside. I thought that if I concentrated on being a good girl, if I just followed the rules, then my father would return. But he didn't. And being a young girl with a great big will I demanded to see him many times and in a loud voice. When I got older, my mother and stepfather and other relatives told me that they didn't know what to do with me in those days.

I was simply a little girl who was grieving. I needed to be held and told I was ok. But my mother worked all day and had two young children to raise on her own, and she in turn was exhausted.

I developed asthma and insomnia, and I would rock myself to sleep. And always, always, I knew I was the reason that my father had left us. I was wracked with guilt, and I remember being envious of all the good little girls who still had their fathers.

What would have assuaged my tiny broken heart? I don't know. That nameless, faceless psychologist did me no favor. Years later my mother apologized for not realizing how damaged I was. The result of those early fatherless years appeared during my teen years. I would be so devastated when a boyfriend broke up with me, that my family feared for my sanity. After the first two break ups, I did anything and everything to keep a relationship going. Which meant being a good girl and never saying no.

I married a man with a stable family, and I was determined to stay married to him. My children would not be children of divorce. And always, always I was a good little girl, doing exactly what my husband asked of me, and sublimating my own ambitions in order to please him.

Dads play such an important role in their children's upbringing. Even if parents must divorce (and there are times when this is the only option), it is so important afterwards that children still feel equally loved and desired by both parents. Absentee fathers and mothers damage their children almost beyond repair. I was well into my fifties before I understood the full consequences of my father's abandonment.

So on this Father's Day, I hope all divorced fathers will contact their children (or are receptive to their children's overtures.) And I hope that all divorced mothers can lay their differences with their exes aside for the sake of the children, and allow fathers to have a full role in their kid's lives.

Image from http://www.trevorromain.com/blog/archives/2006/08/

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