Paternal Affections

May 13, 2008

I love being a father. I take great enjoyment from even the mundane tasks of child rearing. I love opening my wallet and pulling out singles for the school bake sale. I love the ease in which my children approach me, taking liberty and climbing on my lap. I find comfort in watching them grow and mature.

Perhaps this is why I am agonizing over my father. Historical summary: he beat me mom, took off before I was born, never supported me, and I never laid eyes on him until I was in high school. I am now some years out of my teens, with a 9 year old and a 6 year old. My parents were married for 2 years. I will celebrate 14 glorious years in a few weeks.

Back to agonizing. Since I turned 14, my father seems to go through periods of reminiscence. These periods seem to coincide with his high school reunions. He will write to me for a few months prior to the reunion. He will then try to worm his way into my life for a few days. He occasionally writes for a few months after. Then as abruptly as he connected, he disconnects.

This year is a reunion year.

Last reunion, I short circuited the process. I decided to go back to college in another state. I had been living in the same town he and my mother had always called home. This allowed for his combined school & family reunions. He was furious. Even though he had abandoned me as an infant, he felt that I should have cleared my plans with him, asking his blessing. As an adult with a family, I felt that I no longer needed permission, least of all from a dead beat dad.

A few weeks after I started classes, I was diagnosed with a rare disease. I was hospitalized and my loving wife thought I was going to die. She contacted my father. He never responded. He was still mad at me for ruining his plans.

Again, this is a reunion year. I have graduated and moved yet again and started a new job. My father tracked me down. Just before Valentine’s Day, we received two cards. One was addressed to my daughter and the other to my son. He identified himself as their “grandpa”. He included pictures and his new address.

A few days before Easter, twp more cards arrived. One was addressed to my wife and I and the other to the kids. He signed his card “Dad”. I cannot express my anger vividly enough. I am a Dad. He’s not. I feel as if his claim to that title diminishes real fathers everywhere. I railed. My wife aided my venting. I felt justified in my anger.

And now I feel guilt.

This man has been married 6 or 7 times. I can’t keep track. But this last marriage has lasted longer than all the others. He was abusive. He isn’t anymore. He is a rather solid believer in Jesus Christ, and it has changed him. He has several children spread across the first 4 marriages, in wedlock and from affairs. Until I left my hometown, I was the only one that willingly spoke to him.


Should I give him another chance? This question is plaguing me. I am bitter. Yet, I believe bitterness is wrong. I fear what his on again off again relationship will do to the emotions of my children. Yet, what will they learn if I encourage them to ignore their flesh and blood.


Should I write? Should I encourage him? Can there be healing?

As soon as I know, I guess I’ll write about it. Until then, if you know – how about some help?

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One Response to “Paternal Affections”

  1. […] 3, 2008 A few weeks ago, I posted an entry called Paternal Affections.  In part, this entry dealt with my role as a father and the lack of a father I experienced as […]

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