“Where’s my father?” is a reasonable question for a divorced kid to ask. Some kids don’t need to ask. They stay in close contact with both parents, dependent upon custody and visitation arrangements. For other kids, that’s not the way divorce works. Hostility between the adults involved brings out horrid behavior including using children as pawns to manipulate or emotionally injure each other. In some cases, for protective reasons, contact between one parent and the children is disallowed, either by result of a court order or parental imposition.
Why would I write an article like this for Father’s Day? Well – because I know a lot of divorced dads who didn’t let the divorce cause them to stop being dads. Neither did the divorce cause their children to suddenly lose all memory of their fathers. That’s what’s so complicated about divorce. It doesn’t “get rid of” one part of a family. It turns one family into two families – or at least a two-part family. Father’s Day can be a frustrating day for fathers who can’t be with their children and for step-fathers who are trying to parent someone else’s children, often laboring under the misapprehension that those children appreciate their efforts.
My childhood divorce left me with both positive and negative memories of life with my father. He loved trains and photography and camping and was brilliant with electronics and drafting – I remember that much. I’ve shared those same interests my whole life. I used to sit with him in the garage and he would show me how to use various oscilloscopes and how to make basic electrical circuits when I was just 6 years old. He was passionate about his beliefs and could have a temper – thank you genetics – but I remember having fun with him when we were together. Something started going wrong though in our home when I was about 6 years old. Even to this day, I’m not sure what set it off. My father and mother started becoming angry at each other more and more frequently until they (we) finally separated and then divorced.
Living apart from our father had a confusing effect on me and my sister. We were afraid of how angry our father had become, but we still needed him in our lives. He visited us for a short while and took us on day trips, but contact with him soon ceased. I don’t know whose decision that was, but I let it go that way. I didn’t want to upset anyone. Our mom worked 3 jobs to make ends meet while we stayed with our Grammy during much of that time. Our mom remarried after a few years. Honestly, I was not an easy 10 year old stepchild to parent. Maybe I was still wondering where my father had gone and whether I bore some fault in his disappearance. Despite my resistance, our stepdad hung in there and got it done.
I got married when I was 24, and my first child was born a few years later. I remember sitting in the hospital chapel and praying for God to teach me how to be a father because I felt like I had no clue. Now, with 3 children of my own (and still praying), I think I may know more about my father than I ever thought I could. Maybe I can find him, give him a call and wish him a happy Father’s Day.
© 2015 Curt Savage Media