Dad Feels – Guest Post by Frances Rae

22 Jun

By Frances Rae

I started going to therapy when I was fifteen. In one session, she asked me to talk about my father, and I just completely drew a blank. I have a hard time with really open-ended questions like that, so I was quiet for a few minutes while I tried to think of what exactly she was asking me. There were so many things I could have said about him that I didn’t know where to start. Before I could, she said, “you know, it’s very telling that you don’t have anything to say about him.” I was so angry at her for presuming to know something, anything about my relationship with him based on how my brain reacts to such a vague request that I went home and thought about how I would answer that question differently once I’d had time to prepare. “My dad is great; we have so much in common. We have the same taste in music and movies, our sense of humour is the same.” Things like that. Those are all still true. Those were things that were very important to me to have in common with anyone when I was fifteen.

As an adult, I have noticed that a lot of men get very excited to have those things in common with me. I’ve dated many men whose priorities in a partner are still to have the same movies and music and humour in common. I think that’s the luxury of being a straight, white, cisgender man; you don’t need to have many political opinions on subjects like race or gender or sexuality, and you certainly don’t need to have your opinions align with anyone else’s. It’s not your identity at stake. My dad taught me about cars and carpentry and plumbing. We watched Star Trek and the Three Stooges and John Cleese. We listened to Pearl Jam and the Smashing Pumpkins. We went fishing. I loved fishing.

My priorities are different now than they were when I was fifteen. I couldn’t care less if someone I love likes a song that I like or has seen a movie that I like. The thing I’m most excited to have in common with a person is their politics and opinions. I can tell when men treat me differently or have different expectations of me because they read me as a woman. I think it’s why many of them get so excited when we have music and movies and humour in common because it’s maybe more typical of other men than of other people they’ve dated. I by no means think those things are superior to the more typically feminine things I’m also interested in, but I know that, on some level, they do.

I don’t want to talk about how I’m grateful that my dad raised me with an ego to rival a dude because I don’t think that’s something to be proud of, necessarily. I don’t want to talk about how he never boxed me in based on my gender or treated me differently because I was a girl because I know that’s not true. I don’t want to talk about how the only things we had in common were things that were socially acceptable for a grown man to be interested in. I have a lot of problems with the way my dad parented. With the ways he was (and still is) a partner to my mom. With the ways he treats me now as an adult. With his politics. With his opinions. I don’t want to wrap this up with an neat little bow of how we may never see eye to eye but we’ll always be able to relate on certain things.

I know my dad loves me and loves the things we have in common; the same things we had in common when I was fifteen. I love him, too. But I know I’ll never feel close to him the way I did then because now we still have his priorities in common, but not mine. Growing up I never really worried about disappointing him. But I never thought I’d grow up to be disappointed in him, either.

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6 Responses to “Dad Feels – Guest Post by Frances Rae”

  1. penteller696 June 22, 2015 at 3:11 am #

    Great written post.

  2. vishalbheeroo June 22, 2015 at 7:47 am #

    I enjoy reading your reflection about life and relationships. I feel we learn a lot from our interactions and closeness with people.
    Cheerz

  3. gigoid June 22, 2015 at 3:47 pm #

    Excellent discussion of human relationships… Brilliantly honest, unflinchingly personal, as well as demonstrating a lot of deep perceptive ability…. Well done…

    gigoid

  4. Shawna June 22, 2015 at 3:48 pm #

    This touched a large chord in me, both as a daughter, and as a wife watching my husband with our children. Like you Frances, while I had a good, loving relationship with my Dad,I also had issues with his parenting, and as I grew older, very much with his particular prejudices and opinions. I strive in my parenting very hard to remember how I felt, and how I thought, at whatever particular age my children are at in that moment. I strive very hard to be open-minded, and proactive instead of reactive, in my relationships with my children. While my husband is a very good, loving, supportive Father, and much more open-minded than my own Father ever was, these things I strive for seem to be much harder for him, as a man, to do and/or realize. Especially as he, and the children, have aged, and they are no longer compliant, respectful, “Daddys the best!” children, but young adults with thier own thoughts and opinions, that less and less include caring for what their parents might think. Which is simply the natural course of growing up. I love your comments about the priorities and the disappointment. That was beautifully put, and so very true. There can also, sometimes, be an acceptance that finally comes. When the passage of time and experience allows you to distance yourself from seeing your Dad as your Dad ( with all the accompanying family baggage that entails) and allows you to see him as simply a human, who lived trying to do the best he could, in that moment in time, with whatever resources he had available to him. 🙂

  5. santayocheved June 22, 2015 at 11:31 pm #

    Reblogged this on thelampholdersy and commented:
    and i almost forgot to wish my fathers and potential fathers…Happy Father’s day!!!

  6. CookieCrumbsInc. (@meepeevee) June 26, 2015 at 7:55 am #

    Lucky Frances to have a dad who is all those things 🙂
    Great post!

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