On “Intervention” recently there was a moment that – as a Dad – really upset me. (For those who don’t know, “Intervention,” is a reality show about an addict and the intervention their family stages in hopes of getting them to go to treatment.) The moment came during the intervention when the addict – a woman who desperately longed for her father’s love – made it painfully obvious that the one thing that would make her accept treatment would be if her father said he loved her. Despite this, he hemmed and hawed as if saying those words was the hardest thing he ever had to do.
This stubborn man had me screaming at the TV, but the sad truth is that it’s pretty common for the fathers of the addicts on the show to be distant and emotionally unavailable. I wish I could say these type of men were few and far between, but they’re not. Older generations, especially, are full of them.
It’s no secret why these men are this way. Men have long been taught that they must be strong and macho; that showing emotion is weak. Act like John Wayne or Clint Eastwood, the message has been, and you’ll be a real man.
I try to be different. I tell Annie I love her dozens of times each day and I don’t bother pretending to be a macho tough guy. Why would I when doing so might put distance between me and my daughter? Some men, I’m sure, would view me as less of a man for doing this, but they’d be wrong. I’m man enough not to be afraid of outdated notions of what a man should be. I’m man enough to be the the kind of man that is best for my child. And I’m not alone. I see more and more men like me all the time.
At the end of the “Intervention” episode I mentioned above the father finally managed to tell his daughter that he loved her, and it did convince her to go to treatment. I’m sure in that moment – when he realized he may have saved his daughter’s life by showing genuine emotion – he didn’t feel weak at all. He probably felt stronger than he ever had before.