I have a great Dad.  I admire and respect my father.  Not only was he a present and respected influence in my life, but he loves my children and is the same type of influence in their lives.  I am so thankful for him.  He is and has always been a softie with my daughter, especially, because she was his first grandchild.  They have a connection even I never had with him, which makes me feel so blessed. 

Today was Father’s Day.  In dramatic contrast to my own Father, my children’s Father never called them to set up his court-ordered right to have visitation today.  I had asked my kids if they wanted me to remind him of it this week, but neither child wanted me to.  They didn’t want to see him unless he requested it…He didn’t.  While this broke my heart, I still had a talk with my kids about respect.  Even though their father doesn’t always behave in a way that earns respect, he is still their father and because of that deserves positional respect. 

My daughter texted him after church to wish him a Happy Father’s Day.  He texted back a photo of his niece sticking out her tongue at her.  When my daughter questioned him, the conversation deteriorated into an admission by him that he had been “testing” my kids by not calling them, and had been waiting to see if they would contact him to ask to spend the day with him, which they didn’t do.  He got very snotty with her and basically called her disrespectful.  Since his visitation rights always include Father’s Day, they waited to be told what the plans were from him.  When they didn’t hear from him, they assumed he had other plans (he does have a new girlfriend and has given up visitation time recently).  So, instead, they got dressed down by their father and made to feel lousy. 

Even though I know we did the right thing in telling him Happy Father’s Day, the whole thing put a pall over our day.  My daughter told me she wishes she had my dad.  My son wants a father figure he can respect so badly.  While I know things could be so much worse, the disappointment we all feel hurts.  I hurt for the kids, who miss out on having a dad who really wants to be in their lives and wants to set a good example. 

There are so many great dads out there.  There are lots of good dads, and dads who know they should be better.  There are deadbeat, abusive and absentee fathers.  Regardless of what my X is, he still contributed to the creation of my children, and I am thankful for that.  He pays child support (most of the time) and doesn’t hit my kids.  So I am thankful.  He gave me full physical custody in the divorce, realizing it was the best thing for all of us.  So I am blessed by that and thank God for the fact daily. 

I will never understand bad parents.  I am grateful to God for making me a parent.  I am not saying I am perfect, by any means, but I try each and every day to be a good parent.  I am trying so hard to let go of the bitterness in the situation with my X, and most of the time I can, until days like today happen. 

I do know, however, that my children will be better parents for seeing some examples of parenting that is lacking.  We’ve talked about it, and I pray they can apply these hurts as learning lessons in their own lives. 

Paternity happens.  Fatherhood is a position that can include the good or the bad.  Being a Dad is a special position that the good ones achieve, and I’m thankful I have a great Dad.  Thanks, Dad…I love you and I’m glad my kids have you in their lives.

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