Pick of The Week: The Absent and Distant Father

Chocolate Ice Cream Temptation

Two sentences can sum up where both my head and heart has been this week, and they both come from two of the most important people in my life.

“Dad, why are you choosing your job over me? Why are you not home being my Dad?” – My son.

“Lee, why are you so unsupportive?” – My girlfriend.

I would do anything to protect these two people from harm because I love them both dearly. So why then am I responsible for causing them both the most harm? Why do I continue to behave in ways that both of them dislike and fail to understand? Why am I trying to drive them both further away from me?

My mantra is Personal Continuous Improvement. This is what this blog is all about. You take action in your life, you screw up, you review why and how you screwed up, you make changes so that you don’t screw up again, and then you rinse and repeat the cycle. My girlfriend believes you can never be perfect, and I think she is right. But by following my mantra, at least you will be heading in the right direction.

Sometimes your mistakes are easy to understand – and therefore rectify – and sometimes they are a little bit more complicated. In my relationships with both my son and my girlfriend, I have been thinking that I was going a little bit coo-coo. Try as I might I was just unable to identify where I was going wrong. This lack of understanding is causing me to keep behaving in ways that continues the cycle of pain for the two people that I love.

This week I had another important light bulb moment on my journey through Personal Continuous Improvement. I believe that my attendance at the Landmark Forum was the kick-starter to this light bulb moment and my mind has been figuring it out sub-consciously ever since.

It is now very clear to me that I am very much like my father. I now realise the true power of mentoring and especially the sub-conscious behaviours that we adopt from those that we spend the majority of our lives with. I have traveled through this world, highly critical of my fathers parenting skills, all the time vowing to be a better parent. In fact it goes deeper than that, because not only have I become my father when it comes to parenting, but I also mirror his behaviour in my intimate relationships.

I am what is known as an absent and distant father, and so is my father and so was his father. In fact I am pretty sure that there is a long lineage of absent and distant fathers in the Davy family tree. Unbeknown to my father – and myself until this week – his parenting style has become ingrained in the very core of what is to be me. In a lot of ways it has wounded me and the wounds have caused me to sub-consciously behave in inappropriate ways. I am distant and absent from my son in just the same way that my father was. I believe that I always under achieve and make up for this by working too hard, I introduce defensive walls into my relationships that are so deep they could be called The Great Walls of Lee, I am addictive and obsessive and need to always be right and in control at all times. Last, but certainly not least, I am far more comfortable criticising myself, and those that I care about, when what is needed is love, support and acceptance. All of these traits come from the still sore wounds of not having the father I wanted, and needed, as a child.

Realising that my father’s very soul seems to have imprinted itself on me, despite my open mouthed declaration that I would never be like him, intrigues me. How could this possibly happen when I have always thought I was fighting against it? How many more people are there in the world that have not worked it out? How many damaged relationships are there as a result of this lack of understanding?

This is where my mantra of Personal Continuous Improvement – which I like to call Lean Life – comes into force. I have now gotten to the root cause of my failures as a father and life partner. I understand my mistakes. Now it is time to figure out how to make the necessary improvements and then carry on living. Will I screw up again? Abso-bloody-lutely! But Lean Life means that you never stop learning and never stop improving.

In my next few blog posts I will write in more detail about what it feels like to be a distant and absent father and how it has manifested itself in my relationship with my son and my girlfriend.

Take some time to think about your relationship with your father. How did he behave? Was he there for you? Does this story seem familiar? Let us know what you think and tell your story.

Photo courtesy of the fantastic k.hoppdelaney (cc & flickr.com) or www.koppdelaney.de

Comments

  1. Hi Lee,
    Well I read your blog ‘Fatherless son’ & intended to respond…just read this one ‘Absent and distant father’ – oh boy this is heavy stuff you are confronting! So first of all be proud for facing this stuff rather than burying it, as I expect your dad did…
    your son said to you ‘why are you not home being my dad?’ – this suggests he knows what you being his dad means & it’s really important to him – a good sign that you are not absent or distant, and your son is certainly not ‘fatherless’. Looking at our parents & recognising inherited traits & behaviours is interesting…but it doesn’t necessarily help us move forward. Recognising limiting beliefs and replacing with helpful, positive beliefs is much more useful and enables us to change. Re-framing our beliefs helps. As you know there are loads of useful books & helpful approaches out there…you might like ‘Living yor best life’ by Laura Berman Fortgang.
    Reading your blogs I see a different man than you see – I see a man who is trying his best to juggle things, be a good dad & partner, earn a living, grow in spirit…you are doing your best and that is enough..
    Keep unleashing your strengths,
    Jackie.

    • Lee Davy says:

      Hi Jackie,

      I truly believe I am the man you think I am. I am desperately trying to please everyone and do the right thing, but it I realise it is an impossible task. I have made a note of your book recommendation and will certainly look into it.

      Thanks

      Lee

  2. Pretty heavy stuff. If you realized all this one week, what will next week be like? Good luck as you continue your Personal Continuous Improvement. Achieving a sense of self awareness is beneficial in so many ways but is also tough as what we don’t always like what we discover.

    • Lee Davy says:

      Hi Larry,

      I think it is really important to face the things you will not like about yourself. This only comes up through honesty and self appraisal. I try really hard to work hard in both areas.

      Thank you for taking the time to post a comment.

      regards

      Lee

  3. Lee,
    It is difficult to unlearn something so ingrained in you. Keep trying. That you recognize the problem is crucial but then so is change, at least for the sake of healthy relationships. I can’t help but think of a verse that says, in part, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth generation.” This was very true of my ex’s family, but my ex never really tried to change the pattern and it was very destructive. Like I said, keep going in the right direction, young man, and keep encouraging others to do the same. You are courageous and strong.

    • Lee Davy says:

      Hi Linnea,

      As always, thanks so much for taking the time to make such a thought out comment for me.

      Regards

      Lee

  4. Lee,

    This was a good post. For the most part we are like our parents in many ways and our children will be like us. I fought hardnot to be like my own mother, who put herself befoere the family and did some collateral damage to my brothers and me. But we all find ourselves saying or doing something and then thinking, :”Oh no, that’s just what my mother/father said to me.” If we’re lucky we remember and try to change our ways.

    Micki

    • Lee Davy says:

      Hi Micki,

      I always noted certain characteristics that were similar between my parents and I, but never to this depth. When I talk about depth I am talking about sub-conscious behaviours I never knew existed.

      Thanks for the comments.

      Lee

  5. Thank you, Lee, for today’s beautifully written, heartfelt blog spot. It’s hard to avoid mirroring our parents. After all, we learned their ways long before we could even speak! But it sounds like through your awareness, you are making positive headway. I commend you for that.

  6. Lee, it strikes me that you should rename your quest to Continuous Personal Renovation or Renewal, then you could call it CPR. And that is what it really is – CPR for your soul. I know you do not have Christian faith, but I have read books by Christians who say that when you make a judgement concerning your parents such as you did (I’ll never parent like my father) you are really sealing your “fate” to become the kind of father he has been. Forgiveness is a huge key here as well as renouncing any judgements we have made. John and Paula Sandford wrote a lot of books on inner healing. They believed that most of life’s problems stem from our relationship (or lack of) with our parents. It’s an interesting topic. If you should ever want to check out their books, here is a site that lists them: http://www.arsenalbooks.com/category/86 I wish you well on your continued “pilgrimage” to a better you.

  7. I am again blessed and impressed with how thoughtful and teachable you are, Lee.
    Keep growing, reaching, changing. These relationships are worth your time and effort!

    My dad is almost 93. The last 6 years of taking care of him and my mom have uncovered many unhealthy patterns and old wounds from childhood. They’ve also revealed areas of strength and beauty. I am learning to embrace the beauty, grieve the pain, and separate myself from their unhealthy emotions. God has used this difficult season of caregiving to bring our relationships full-circle. I’m grateful.

  8. What an insightful post! Just recognizing where you are and where you want to go is more than half the battle! I have no doubt you’ll get there!

  9. Hi Lee,
    It seems like you are in a big learning process that I am sure you will come out ahead of. Your openness and willingness to find out where you are and why you are there is commendable. Your willingness to rectify and start all over again speaks of a person who is willing to change and I congratulate you in
    that and wish you all the best.
    Thank you for the insight into your changes. That takes courage.
    Ciao,
    Patricia

  10. nice read. just discovered that im becoming emotionally unavailable… like my father. i see it in my brother too. and my father with his fathers relationship. and judging from my grandfathers temperement im guessing it was the same with his fathers. ladies too can be emotionally unavailable. look at me :-)

    • Hi Bee,

      It’s true females do get caught up in the same web as the men sometimes.

      If I can ever help or you need someone to listen to you don’t hesitate to drop me a mail.

      Lee

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