The most you can spend on any child is time – Word from the Mr

It’s been a little while since Dave has written a post for me but this is a big one and I won’t deny it made me cry the first time I read it . . . 

Col has been pecking my head to write a new post for the blog for quite some time now.  I shouldn’t complain.  It’s nice to be wanted and I quite enjoy seeing what falls out of my head when I get on a topic where I’ve got something to say.  Therein lies my problem.  I’ve been struggling to find a topic that I don’t write meaningless waffle about.

Anyway this topic has some weight for me, so it’s been nagging at me that I could write something real about this, and as it came up in conversation recently with some friends I thought I’d try to put some of my thoughts down.  Here goes…

I don’t know my Father.

I’ve met him.  Just not nearly enough for a human who provided half the genetic material that is me.  He and my Mum split up when I was very little, and although my Mum put in huge amounts of effort and made sure I saw his family loads during my childhood, he worked away and was very rarely there when I went to visit his side of the family.  So I had a great relationship with his parents, my Nan and Granddad, all my uncles and cousins, but not him.  I spoke to him on the phone occasionally and I saw him at scattered intervals but he has been absent throughout my life.

I’m not asking for sympathy and I’m definitely not suggesting I’m alone in this situation so please don’t get me wrong.  I mainly want to talk about how much that abandonment can and does affect you because it might not be apparent.  I’m pretty well adjusted, all things considered.  However, I undoubtedly have “Daddy issues”.  A phrase which makes me shudder to think about let alone type!  I haven’t always realised that this was the case though.  Throughout my teens, if you had asked me, I would have told you that I couldn’t have cared less about not seeing him.  It didn’t make me feel any less worthwhile or affect me in any way.  It wasn’t just empty bravado either.  I really believed that at the time.  It’s only looking back that I see it now.  Hindsight having such ocular accuracy as it does.

Family photo

I think what really nailed down that realisation for me was one Christmas when he rang me out of the blue because he “wanted to be a part of his grand kids’ lives”, not his son’s life I might add, his grand kids.  I found myself screaming down the phone at him because he wasn’t listening to me.  It didn’t help that I was half cut of course!  The topic certainly didn’t put me in the right frame of mind.  The point I’m trying to make is that at that point I was a fully grown adult who had his life together.  A happy family life with not a care in the world by most measures.  I wasn’t a child and I hadn’t been one for quite some time.  I’d spent that evening getting pleasantly potted in the pub with the in-laws, all geared up for Christmas and within five minutes I was reduced to screaming at a practical stranger because he asked me a question!  That is not my usual response to trouble and strife.  I am better than that.  Some scars run deep and never heal quite as much as you’d like.

It’s a well known phrase ‘You’ve got a face only a Mother could love’.  Not the nicest phrase I know.  I think this phrase is applicable for both your parents, even though it is usually reserved for the maternal side.  The point of it is that your parents should love you no matter what you look like, what you are.

But what if they don’t?  What does that say about you?  Are you in some way unlovable?  Not worth the effort?  I’m afraid to say that these things cross your mind from time to time.  If there’s anyone who can mess you up it’s your parents.  I’d like to point out again that I’m fine and that what I am describing is in no way the worst thing a parent can inflict upon you, but it’s still not great.

If you look at statistics for children who show serious behavioural problems, then aside those who have a diagnosed condition to account for their behavioural issues, the vast majority have fractured home lives.  That dynamic is so important to a child’s development.  Physical development, mental development, emotional growth and stability all start with a happy home life.  That’s not to say it’s the only the only place it can come from, but it helps. I think as parents that’s what you owe your kids. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, how many presents you give them or fancy places you take them. If your kids know they are loved and spend time with you then they’ll be alright because that’s what matters. Show them love and that they are worth your time.

Family in the woods

When I was quite young my Mum met a bloke who would go on to be a major influence in my life.  He was great to me.  I really learned a lot from him, and the effort he put into getting to know me and putting up with the resentful sod I was, really shows the character of him.  I’m ashamed to say that I did not repay that man with the respect and affection that he deserved.  For a large part of my formative years I really didn’t like him because he had the audacity to not be my Dad!  How dare he!  Coming over here making my Mum happy and putting up with her stroppy kid!  The cheek of it.  He was around throughout my early life until he regretfully passed away far too young.  I finally told him I loved him on his death bed and thanked him for everything he had done for me.  I’m so glad that I got to do that but it shouldn’t have only been on that one occasion.

As I look back now I realise that even if my Father had made the effort I don’t think he’d have been a good Dad.  I can’t see us playing football or him helping me my with my homework.  I’ve spoken to him as an adult and I don’t see a great role model, but then again whenever I have spoken to him it has always been through a fog of alcohol at family funerals or weddings which is the only time our paths cross.

In a way the scariest thing for me is that I can see how this situation would arise. I’m pretty terrible at keeping in touch with friends and family. People I genuinely love and care about have drifted out of my life because I don’t pick up the phone. Because it’s easier to not ring or go and see them. Relationships are living things. If you don’t care for them they die.  So I can see that it’d be easy to not ring tonight because you are tired, or you haven’t got anything to talk about.  Then once you’ve done that a few times you feel like it’s been too long to just ring up for a chat.  Once that happens then when/if you do eventually ring it’s awkward because you haven’t spoken in so long. It gets harder to ring or see them and easier to leave it till another time.  That’s the very definition of a downward spiral.  It’s harder to act and easier to leave until things are too far gone.

I knew from very early on that I wanted kids.  I wanted to be a Dad.  I also knew that I would never ever leave my kids.  I am not ever going to be someone who only sees their kids on the weekend.  That’s not enough.  I need to be a part of my kids’ lives.  If I’m going to mess them up it’s going to be from being around them and teaching them my bad habits rather than from being absent.

So the crux of the matter for me, and what I wanted to write this post for, is to say if you are in the horrible situation where you don’t live with your kids then make that effort.  If you make plans, then turn up.  Be there as much as you physically can.  Call them.  Send birthday cards.  Do everything you can to let them know that they matter because that’s what counts.  That they know they are loved and they have people who want to be part of their lives.  Even if it’s hard work it’s worth the effort because they are a part of you and they deserve it.  It matters more than you probably think.  It might change their whole outlook.  It might change their life.

Family walking through the woods

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41 Comments

  1. October 18, 2016 / 1:20 pm

    What a brilliant heartfelt post. My dad walked out on my mum 2 years ago and as a 30 year old it still had an impact. I haven’t seen him since as he’s moved to the US and he doesn’t even know I’ve had another baby. Parents don’t realise the impact they have on their kids and you are so right, time is the most valuable thing. x

    • October 18, 2016 / 1:51 pm

      I can’t imagine how hard that must be for you Katy. I’m really sorry x

  2. October 18, 2016 / 2:01 pm

    What a lovely post to read, I agree so much that time is the main thing that matters and sometimes the hardest thing to give. I live a long way from my Dad but since my Mum died four years ago, we speak every single day. Sometimes it’s only a quick hello and others it’s a real laugh and chat. That’s what phones are for. I look forward to his call and he likes to tell me about his day. I’m sure you will always find time for your children too.

  3. October 18, 2016 / 2:07 pm

    What a sweetheart. This is so lovely. He’s a keeper!! Xx

  4. Marc Luscombe
    October 18, 2016 / 2:23 pm

    I’m not ashamed to say that this reduced me to tears Dave/Col.
    I was lucky, my dad was around a lot in my childhood and still is for my kids now.
    You have nothing to worry about tho Dave, you are an absolutely awesome dad! Our wives are very lucky women and should be reminded of this fact, fairly regularly 😉
    Marc Xx

    • October 18, 2016 / 7:38 pm

      You are right Marc. You are both awesome Dads, our kids are lucky 🙂 x x x

  5. October 18, 2016 / 3:18 pm

    Very wise words. A good nudge to carry on working hard at relationships for the sake of children too (where possible, appreciate it isn’t always). Time is definitely precious and worth lots.

    • October 18, 2016 / 9:57 pm

      Yes, I don’t think any of us would advocate staying in a miserable relationship “for the sake of the kids” but there’s definitely a need to work on maintaining bonds x

  6. October 18, 2016 / 3:48 pm

    wow what a brilliant post. I really feel the same about it. Our kids want us and our time, not just loads of ‘stuff’ xx

    • October 18, 2016 / 9:56 pm

      Absolutely Rebecca x

  7. October 18, 2016 / 8:57 pm

    What a wonderful blog post, really meaningful and very truthful. Thank you.

    • October 18, 2016 / 9:56 pm

      I’m so proud of him for his honesty and openness with this one x

  8. October 18, 2016 / 9:12 pm

    What a wondeful post Colette, really lovely but hard to read in lots of ways.

    • October 18, 2016 / 9:56 pm

      It brought me to tears the first time I read it – particularly as he hadn’t warned me what he was writing about x

  9. October 18, 2016 / 9:35 pm

    That’s sent goose bumps all over my body. What an inspiring piece of writing truly from the heart. I have some Daddy Issues and to read about how differently you want to be with your own children just fills me with so much hope. Tremendous mr going on an adventure blog xx

    • October 18, 2016 / 9:55 pm

      And he truly is being the most amazing dad to our children – everything his own father wasn’t. These things clearly shape you but I guess its up to the individual if they want to follow the pattern or break the mould x

  10. October 18, 2016 / 10:06 pm

    Oh wow what a beautiful post, Dave you sound like the most amazing Dad. You are so right its all about benighted with kids and all the money or toys in the world can not replace that x

  11. October 18, 2016 / 11:21 pm

    Oh Dave. We have so much in common. My biological Dad left when I was a baby and I didn’t see him again until I found him when I was 17. Since then things have been strained and he will never be a ‘Dad’ to me, or a real grandparent to my kids. But my Mum kicked me out of home just before I got into contact with him – that’s what spurred me on to contact him – and my relationship with her is in tatters – I have had those phone calls where everything you feel comes out when something just clicks inside you. Like you, I’m an adult, I’ve lived with this for years and yet one remark can mess me up properly, even now, having not seen her for the best part of 10 years.

    But, like you, I had a step Dad in my life, and I still have him around and he knows how much I have appreciated his consistency in my life and the foundations he gave me – without him life would be very different.

    From all I know of you, you seem to be an awesome Dad and you and Colette are a proper team. Your family is so lucky – not to have you, but to have each other. Love you guys x

    • daveburgess
      Author
      October 19, 2016 / 7:23 pm

      Hi Donna. Thanks for commenting. I hope to meet you and your family one day soon. We’ll talk about something nice though! Not messed up family stuff.

  12. October 19, 2016 / 9:01 am

    Wow, what a powerful post – my eyes welled up half way through. I’ve never been in that situation so can’t relate, but it must have been tough. I guess some people are only ever going to be dads by name. The main thing though is that you’ve taken that experience and turned it into something positive – i.e. your family. All we can really do from life is learn and try not to replicate things we didn’t like etc in the past. Plus, start your own blog up mate – I think I’ve said that after every post you’ve written!

    • daveburgess
      Author
      October 19, 2016 / 7:21 pm

      Cheers Dave. You’re too kind. I very appreciate it.

  13. October 19, 2016 / 9:37 am

    What an honest and powerful post. Time really is the best gift you can give your children. I am sorry it went like that with your dad, it must have been and still be tough.

  14. October 19, 2016 / 1:54 pm

    What a really interesting post (he should definitely start his own blog Colette!) My children have different dads, both are useless in different ways, but it sounds like Dave has got his life together, with no thanks to his Dad, and I like to think my boys will be just fine too. x

    • October 19, 2016 / 2:20 pm

      Every time he guest posts there are calls for him to start his own blog but I think he prefers just dipping into mind when he feels like it!

      • daveburgess
        Author
        October 19, 2016 / 7:21 pm

        Thank you all for your comments. I really worried about sounding preachy or pathetic (I’m not sure which I like least!) while writing it. Colette can tell you how long it took me to actually finish it from starting. It’s for that reason and many others that I couldn’t have my own blog. I’m not dedicated enough. It’s lovely to have place where I can dip into in to if I feel the need.

  15. October 20, 2016 / 11:12 pm

    This is such a lovely heart-felt post. I haven’t been in this situation personally, but I can only imagine how hard it is not to have your Dad around. I agree time spent with your child is so important x

  16. October 21, 2016 / 11:34 am

    Great post Dave. I’ve never been in that situation so can’t possibly understand how anyone would not want to spend time with people they brought into this world. Good on you for turning your experience into positive action. I’m sure your children will appreciate every second they will spend with you

  17. October 22, 2016 / 8:16 am

    What a fantastic read. Sorry you went through all of that but at least you can now see that he wouldn’t have been a good dad anyway even if he was around x

  18. October 23, 2016 / 7:39 am

    What a great post! So open and honest and I’m sure it’ll help others. I completely agree that time is the best thing we can give our kids – not material things. It’s all about making memories 🙂 x

  19. October 23, 2016 / 11:04 pm

    Lovely and wise words from a great father. I was lucky to know my father, but he died before my children were born and that breaks my heart every day. I agree time is the best thing you can give your children, they won’t remember the things you bought them, they will remember the time you kicked a ball with them or took them to the park. x

  20. October 24, 2016 / 12:49 pm

    I’ve been putting off reading this since Colette published it, because I knew it would upset me. My dad was in and out of my life (mostly out) for 30 years and it wasn’t until I made peace with the situation and dealt with how angry I was with him that I could find it possible to forgive him. I can mostly look back now on the bad times without getting upset or feeling angry with him, but the effects of our disjointed relationship have definitely made me a more guarded person and you can’t ‘fix’ that. On a more positive note, my parenting is better for having had such a bad relationship with my own dad because I have learned from his mistakes.

    • October 24, 2016 / 2:29 pm

      I’m sorry Karen, it’s definitely a raw subject for many.
      I’m glad you’ve able to use your experience to make you a better parent though <3 x x x

  21. October 24, 2016 / 3:25 pm

    I had a very similar upbringing and it is so hurtful. It still effects me now but i love use that hurt to love my children even more. I don’t ever want them to feel anything but love x

  22. October 24, 2016 / 7:30 pm

    This hit a bit of a nerve for me. Lovely, heartfelt post – on a not often openly discussed subject ❤️

  23. October 25, 2016 / 9:33 am

    Such an open, emotional post.

    It sounds like you’re making up for everything he didn’t do with your own children which makes them very lucky x x

  24. October 25, 2016 / 10:18 am

    That made me well up too.You have a great bloke there Colette, a proud for your kids.I can imagine it’s hard to move on from the emotions you feel but I hope you find a resolution soon.

    • October 25, 2016 / 8:31 pm

      Thanks Aly. He’s a keeper x

  25. October 26, 2016 / 9:39 pm

    what a powerful and heartfelt post. I’ve recently separated from my husband and he’s not making much effort to see our boys, I feel its all me making sure, despite not wanting to ever see him again myself. I’m so tempted to send him this to let him see why he needs to make that effort.

  26. October 29, 2016 / 9:37 am

    This is a great post and really interesting read – especially from a man’s perspective. I have nothing to do with my father anymore. The final straw was when he went off with a woman just 4 years older than me. My half brother is a week younger than my daughter! There are many other things too – but all a bit long-winded really!

  27. October 30, 2016 / 8:28 pm

    I have written at least 10 very long comments and deleted them all, sorry!

    Life makes us what we are, and I think it’s useful to understand your personality and use that to become a better friend, partner and parent – but dwelling on your parents’ failings is a waste of energy, I think – it’s your Dad’s loss, not yours, and you and your family will thrive without them providing there’s plenty of love.

  28. December 27, 2016 / 8:42 am

    This is such a well written post! I wish I could express my feelings in this way. My Dad hasn’t been the best Dad and now that I have children he’s really trying but again it makes me feel worse because why wasn’t I worth it?! Now I love my girls I wonder how he couldn’t have loved me the same. But I’m okay 🙂 well done Dave and it’s so great to see you’re doing all you didn’t have for your children! ox

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