Men’s Talks

Lessons from an Absent Father

Even absent fathers leave a legacy.

I was born into a single parent home.

My mom was father, mother, and everything else. She took care of my sister and I the best that she could. It’s hard for me to imagine how hard she had to work to care for two kids, bring in income, and feed us.

Growing up, I saw many boys grow into men and feel lost. The absence of a father left them clueless about what it meant to be a man. Then they went on to have kids and struggled with the process of becoming a father. The lack of an example left them lost, confused, and frustrated. Being a good dad is easier when you’ve had a father who loved you.

Yet, in the same token, I’ve seen many dads who grew up with just a mother become excellent fathers. When talking to fathers who didn’t have a dad – I find that they are able to give what they didn’t get with incredible precision. When interviewing these fathers, they often say, “I think about what my Dad did and I do the opposite.” When I think about what I missed and needed, I make sure to make note of that and give it to my kids.

In speaking to these men, I’ve learned that even absent fathers leave a legacy.

Sometimes negative, sometimes positive. On the positive side, I’ve seen many men transform their
abandonment. Using the lessons of an absentee parent, these men doubled down on their commitment and became great fathers. Using the pain they experienced helped them have exceptional insight into what their children need.

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If the idea of being a dad scares you because you didn’t have a present father – remember that even an absent parent leaves a legacy. If you wished you had a present father, then it’s likely you know how good it would have felt to have him around. It’s likely you can use that desire to gift your own kids with presence.

If you’ve ever struggled with knowing what to do as a dad and didn’t grow up with one – I’d like to suggest that even an absent father taught you a lot about being a parent. His absence showed you the importance a child places on his parents. It showed you the need a child has for a present father. It helped you get how much you matter as a dad.

Despite whatever is happening with your kid, your father’s absence, made it clear – that you matter. Kids need you, they want you, and you are an important part of a child’s life.

If your father wasn’t around, you can use that pain to thank him for showing what it feels like to have an absent father. You can thank him because his lack of presence only made you more committed to helping raise your kids and investing what it takes to help your kids know the feeling of a loving father.

Credit: The Good Men Project

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