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 I’m man enough not to be afraid of outdated notions of what a man should be.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.
I must admit, I agree with you Mike. As a wife, a mama of a daughter (and as equally important, 2 sons) & a daughter myself, I would MUCH rather my spouse, daddy of my babies & even my own father be more emotionally & verbally available & expressive than having him be a “MAN’S MAN” ANY DAY!!!!
I’m so happy my husband is so expressive & loving to our kids. There is so much joy when I see one of my sons out of the blue, go up to his sibling, give them a little hug & whisper “I love you”!! I can see all 3 of them being amazing parents…and I couldn’t be prouder!!!
I love this, but I bet there’s not a reader here who thought you were the type to be afraid to say those three little words. My dad was raised by a father who didn’t say the words, didn’t hug, didn’t display his love for his kids at all. Dad escaped to the Army at 17, tested into the special forces and married my mom at 20 and became a father at 23. He was tough and handsome and wore a green beret. And he told us he loved us all of the time. His last words were those proclaiming love. My husband’s father told him that he loved him once when he was 18 after my husband said it first. That’s so bizarre to me. Thankfully, my husband, like my father, broke that screwy cycle. And while our house is far from perfect, love is never doubted here.
God bless you, and dads just like you……the world would be a much better place if there were more like you.
Autumn Canter says:
My husband, Jason, has never known his father. His father left the family when Jason’s older brother was two. Jason and his twin Jeremy were conceived at this time. And though Jason’s father had a two year old son he had helped raise and a set of twins he had help create, he had nothing to do with them. He was even living in the same town! I can not comprehend how a man could just choose not to spend time with his children. I am so proud of my husband who, never having had a father in his life, is an amazing, affectionate Dad. He kisses, hugs and carries his babies. He plays with them and tells them he loves them.
My father is a drug addict. And though his addictions have negatively effected my life–he was always affectionate and vocal with his love when I was a child.
It does seem there are a lot of horrible, distant fathers out there–but there are so many great ones too. My children and I are so fortunate to have one of the latter!
I have one of these dads. I always say to my husband how much of a mystery my dad is. I know superficial things like what kind of ice cream he likes, baseball team,mfavorite breed of dog…but nothing REAL, nothing personal. He’s said he loves me a few times during a crisis (like kidney stones in the hospital) but its because my mother actually tells me to say it so it doesn’t mean much. Glad Annabel has you
Mike: I’m a 3o something who has an amazing relationship with her dad. I wanted you to know that he did and continues too do many of the same things that you do with Annie.
I consider myself lucky to have an amazing dad who I know I can go to and who will be there for me no matter what.
Its nice to see that other girls will be as lucky as I am to have a close relationship with their dads.
You and Heather keep up the awesome work!
Annabel is a lucky little girl.
That’s just so sad. I didn’t have the closest relationship with my dad growing up, but he never hesitated to say he loved me. And our relationship is much better now that I’m grown.
This made me appreciate all the more how open my husband is with our daughter about his feelings. He never hesitates to tell her he loves her, which I’m sure she loves hearing.
Dads like you (and my husband, of course) are the most real, truly manly men around.
Diane B. says:
My wonderful husband (56 yr old) makes a point of always saying to his girls (me included), “Have I told you how much I love you today?” or “Have I told you how proud I am of you?” His father wasn’t there much due to remarriages and then living abroad so he learned from his father’s example of what not to be and he is the complete opposite, much to my delight.
My father was raised by a man who wasn’t good with hugging and kissing and expressing any emotions. My dad chose to be a different parent than hid own father. We hug and kiss and say I love you all the time. He isn’t afraid to hug and kiss my brothers and in turn, my brothers aren’t afraid to do the same.
Kudos to you! You are a real man’s man and there’s nothing wimpy in showing your child you love them!
I continue to be shocked and saddened by society’s long-standing stereotypes of how men and women should act. I’m glad there are dads like you, and I’m thankful that my own dad showed emotion and told me he loved me all the time when I was growing up, and still does. Thanks for sharing- this message needs to get out!
My husbands father never said I love you. My husband goes out of his way to say and show it multiple a day so our kids don’t have that same, “never enough for dad” problem. My husband has even started to say it to his dad. For a long time he never got anything back but slowly and awkwardly we are starting to find he is saying the “love” word more
I firmly agree. That macho stuff is ridiculous.
My husband is also very affectionate with our daughter – as his dad was with him. My parents were both pretty stingy with words of love and praise growing up. My mom changed at some point but I can probably count on one hand the number of times my dad has told me he loves me my entire life.
I refuse to have a home like that. My daughter absolutely knows she is loved and that we are proud of the great kid she is.
My father has never actually said the words I love you to me. I don’t think I have ever really thought about his much until this moment. But he shows it every single day. He has always been a good dad and husband to my mom and very supportive to the whole family. He just is not a man of words. I have no doubt that he loves any of us.
Same for my family.
I grew up with one of those dads. He was the one with the addiction, not me. When he became sober, I knew he felt a lot of regret. But it was me who couldn’t say I loved him, until he had a terrible stroke.
You’re right – I did feel strong when I was able to say it, and I’m glad he heard me say it before he died. I’m sure Annabel will say the words to you, if she isn’t saying them already.
When I read this blog, especially when I see posts from Mike, I’m always amazed by the relationship he had with Maddie, and now Annie. Even though I’ve never met you, it’s evident that you take your job as a father very seriously. I’ve always been baffled by dads like you since mine is a disappointing mess. I don’t remember him ever telling me he loved me, and hugs were only doled out as a way of apologizing, or when my mother made it a point to tell him to do so. By the time I was 18, he made it perfectly clear he was done pretending to care. I was lucky enough to see what a real father was by the example my grandfather set, but I know the type pain the woman on intervention has been though concerning this relationship. As cliche as it may sound, my life would have been very different, and probably a lot better, if my father had tried to be a dad. A while ago I made a promise to myself that if I ever have kids, I’ll learn from my fathers mistakes and make sure they always know they’re loved.
mike@baby jogger sale says:
Mike, you aren’t less of a man. You are actually quite the opposite. I wish I had the ability to give my kids the constant reinforcement they deserve and need.
Isn’t it idd that athletes can break down and cry on national tv over sports but can’t show love to their child?
Its very obvious that a child must have a mother figure and a father figure because it helps them to grow in a good way and they feel that they are loved by his/her parents. Most children who abandon their parents are not in good way of living. Some of them are become black ship and their life will become miserable. So, for the parents out their, loved your children.