Thursday, March 20, 2008

A boy without a dad...

A few times every year, my 13-year-old son goes through the "I hate not having a dad or a brother in this house" mood. Jeff died when he was about to turn five and his grandpa died in 2001. There is a lot of estrogen in this house with me, my teen daughter, my tween daughter and my mother all living under one roof. As much as I try to tell my son I sympathize and understand because I grew up without a sister (I have three older brothers) or a dad (he died when I was six), he'll say "but you had a mom and you're a girl."

Yup, you're right, but my mom was busy raising four kids, working, taking care of the home, etc. Even still I knew what my son meant...he wanted a man in the house, but since that wasn't possible right now I had to try and figure out a way to help my son.

Over the years, I've tried to find good male role models for him through coaches, friends and teachers. I started thinking about all of the guys that ask how he's doing or made some kind of impact in his life and I realized that he had many male figures in his life who cared about him. Then in a conversation I had with a male friend of mine (who is also one of his bowling coaches) about this subject, this man said, "Hey, I had a dad and he wasn't there for me and I had to raise my younger brother."

I realized that my son needed to understand that not having a male figurehead in the house didn't mean he didn't have people who cared about him and would be there for him if he needed it. We started talking about his uncles, his two bowling coaches who have talked with me about problems and helped him when his confidence was low. I told him about his friend's dad who treats him like his own son or my best friend's husband who told him he's family. I reminded him of his basketball coach who went above and beyond to support my son, encourage him and give him that pat on the back he needed to hear from another male.

I told him about what my male friend said about not having a good dad and my mother told him about her dad, who was a struggling alcoholic when she was young and how that affected her childhood. Then, of course, I told him about other kids who don't even have a dad or have a dad that beats them or hurts them in ways he can't even begin to imagine.

Then we talked about Jeff. About how he's always with him no matter what and that he'll have male friends and family in his life that he can turn to at all times. I told him that even though it was a short time in his life, his dad was a great guy and he has to hold on to that love that he was given in the beginning of his life and know that he can carry that around all the time as a means of support.

No, it doesn't erase the fact that Jeff's gone and not physically here to put his arm around Travis when he's had a great day and I know I'll have to repeat this whole conversation to him a few times in these precarious teenage years, but I'm hoping that it helps.

So if your own child is struggling, look for outside sources that can help you to provide some emotional support for your own child, and remember to remind your child that life may not be perfect at home, but you're still family and it's important that family stick together and support each other no matter what.

Until next time, you may be young, but you're not alone.

1 comment:

Greg said...

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Gregory E. Lang
Author of “Daddy’s Little Girl,” “Why a Daughter Needs a Dad,” “Why a Daughter Needs a Mom” and more.