The Fatherless Son

<Hello Mum>
Just like the legendary Greek hero Perseus, each time I slay a demon in my life, I find another one standing defiantly in my path. I have had to face and conquer the fear and loss of losing smoking, drugs, alcohol, my career, my marriage and my home. Each personal battle was tough, but it seems there was always something bigger and badder just waiting for me around the corner. I now face my biggest challenge and one that Perseus would understand. I am battling with the demon known as the fatherless son.

During my time at the Landmark Forum I was coached that most people walking this earth will be incomplete with one, or both, of their parents. In order to become complete we had to speak to our parents and tell them exactly how we had been feeling over the years, ask for forgiveness and offer up a new possibility. I spoke to both of my parents, but firstly I spoke to my Dad and covered the conversation in my blog post Pick Of The Week: The Parental Rulebook.

I am writing this blog post from Las Vegas. I am working out here for 8-weeks during the World Series of Poker (WSOP) as a writer for PokerNews and PartyPoker. This is the second year that I have worked at the WSOP and for everyone involved in the poker industry it is the only place to earn money at this time of the year. The schedule means that a lot of parents are away from their children for a very long time. This absence brings about a dilemma that I am struggling to find the right answer to, but am determined to get it right: not just for me but for other father-son relationships in the world.

One of the reasons I felt abandoned by my father when I was younger was because he always worked abroad. I never saw him and when I did he showed no warmth, love or affection. I never realised it back then, but I must have harboured a deep resentment towards his behaviour throughout my life. Ironically you become your parents as you grow older, but just like the alien in the movie The Thing you become more of an hybrid rather than just a carbon copy.

I have found myself working in a trade that takes me abroad for long periods of time. I am 37-years of age, and although this is not my one true calling, for now I love what I do and the experiences I have. When I am home I want to shower my son with love and affection (this is the difference between my father and I) but I find it very difficult to do so because of my divorce. I see my son for 3-hours on a Thursday and an overnight stay on a Friday. I just can’t seem to cram in enough love and affection during this time. When I am working away I feel guilt. My parental instincts tell me that I should be at home, but what would I do to earn money and fill in the other areas of my life that a son cannot fill.

This week my son rang me and told me he missed me. He wanted me to choose him instead of my job. If I loved him why would I choose to be away from him? It was the toughest phone call I have had to take in my life. I imagine fathers and mothers around the world have had similar calls. After all you just need to look at military service to see that poker is not the only job that takes you away from those you love. I have left one job before. I was extremely unhappy in my work and fortunate to be offered a years salary to leave. That gave me the confidence to find something more aligned whilst allowing me the security to look after my family financially. So I know I could leave this one as well. I can just walk away and find something else and yet I don’t want to. So this then conjures up the age-old debate of whether or not I am being a good father?

So here I am standing at the edge of the sea. The mighty Gorgon stands in my way and my son is shackled to a little island just offshore. The next question – just like Perseus face – is what the hell do I do next?

Do you have a job that takes you away from your family for long periods of time? How do you manage and find the right balance?

Photo courtesy of h.koppdelaney (

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  1. Lee,
    Yours is a difficult question and one you must answer for yourself. Given your willingness for self-reflection, my guess is you will find the right answer soon. In parenting, there has to be a balance. We cannot sacrifice everything our children want us to; it’s neither possible nor realistic. Good luck. My ex travelled a lot but he would extend his trips so he could continue to party. Clearly, he put his own selfish desires above his children’s needs. One thing you are doing exceptionally well is being honest with your son and letting him know how much you love him.

    • Lee Davy says:

      Hi Linnea,

      You have hit the nail on the head perfectly.


      This is the only way that relationships can work. The problem is exacerbated by the limited time I can see him when I am in the UK. I would love to be able to see him every day when I am home but this is just not possible.

      I have just purchased a book on this subject so hopefully I can pull some help from that.



  2. What a blessing that your son loves you and wants to be with you! It is a wonderful problem to be well-loved. But, Lee, don’t make a decision based on guilt or fear. You are not your father. Your son is not “fatherless.” You love your son well.

    This is tough. It’s important. The fact that you struggle with it shows what a good father you are. I’m praying that God will give you wisdom.

    • Lee Davy says:

      Hi Peggi,

      Thanks for the kind words. A week has passed since I received that phone call from my son and I am still a little lost, but am sure I will find the right path soon. Your comment “you are not your father” was very poignant this week as something else cropped up in my life. I will write about it next week so keep your eyes opened.


  3. Lisa Nofzinger says:

    Thank you for sharing, Lee. This was poignant and very well-written.

  4. Hi Lee,

    I can appreciate what you are going through and i sincerely hope you find the best way for both you and your son. It seems as you and he have a very honest rapport. Keep that, it is something precious to have.
    thank you for sharing and I enjoyed reading it.

    • Lee Davy says:

      Thank you Pat. I have learned a great deal more about myself as a parent this week so keep your eyes peeled for the word on it.

  5. I’ll look forward to reading more of your work.

  6. I quit trying to slay all those demons. I just ignore them. Eventually they get bored with me and go somewhere else.

  7. Wayne Garde says:

    I have bean thru the same battle. My wife divorced me when my son was 5 months old. I was confused about wether I should follow a career that gave me purpose and satisfaction but traveled 4 or 5 mon. a yr.. or get a job I didnt feel purpose in but be a full time dad? I took a local job and spent tons (50%) time with my son while I was contemplating my situation. When my son turned two I was diagnosed with cancer and It really showed me what was my main priority. After 4 yrs. I was absolutely in love with being a dad but when he was at moms I found myself lost, so I started daydreaming about my desired career field again and shortly after I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer and there was a chance I might not survive. Its now 7 yrs. later and my son is thirteen and I have to say wether it was my decision or fate it was the best thing that could have happened. My son is happy! So am I!

    • Hi Wayne,

      Thanks for being so open and honest about your situation.

      I am still lost when it comes to my relationship with my son. I just haven’t come to terms with the fact that I no longer live with him anymore. The fact that I work abroad has become irrelevant because when I am home I only get to see him for two-hours on a Thursday and all night on a Friday.

      Your post has brought me a lot of inspiration.



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