Being a good dad is a balancing act. Managing money, paying bills, providing a roof to live under and putting food on the table is hard. Sometimes Dads can’t balance it all and their flaws overpower them.
Arm Chair Dad
This Dad is a spectator to his own life. Think Archie Bunker. Most children in the 50’s and 60’s had Dads with this demeanor. The culture told men of that era this was their role. Today, some Arm Chair Dads still exist. This dad brings stability to the family and keeps the family safe. He usually sits in a Lazy boy recliner watching sports or the news after a long day at work. Children do not disturb or play with Arm Chair Dad. Typically, Moms in these families take care of the daily and emotional needs of the family. In recovery, we learn this Dad is detached or not emotionally available.
This Dad is THE cool dad. He’s youthful and ever ready for his GQ photo shoot. This Dad reads articles about hair replacement, liposuction, and the latest fashions for men. Conversations with him typically end up being about him or if any of your friends think he looks younger than your Mom. Youthful Dad drives the fastest car and hangs out at the gym. This Dad is fun when you get him out of the mirror. In recovery, we learn this Dad is a bit of a narcissist.
Fun Loving Dad
This Dad is all about the fun. He has the biggest toys and knows the best way to put off work. I am thinking of Robin Williams in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” While children enjoy this parent for a while, they soon learn life is more than having fun. School and work call for responsibility and accepting reality. Fun Loving Dad is lost when his children no longer want to play or are angry with him. Moms married to this Dad are typically mad because she is left to do the hard part of parenting. She’s often alone and never gets to have fun. In recovery, we learn this Dad is enmeshed and codependent with his children.
This is a heart-breaking kind of Dad. This kind of Dad is frustrated and gets angry easily. He prioritizes his addiction over family needs and often takes much needed money to support his addiction. He apologizes constantly and truly wants to be different, but without recovery support he can’t make the necessary changes. Addicted Dad is also confused and can feel like a victim as the disease advances on his life and family. He didn’t ask for this disease and is surprised when he eventually sees that he has it. His children are left feeling confused and unloved. They think there is something wrong with them because their father chose a substance over them. In recovery, we learn this Dad suffers from a disease. We also learn his children have been affected and need to recover as well. Hope for the family is found in finding treatment for everyone including Addicted Dad.
This Dad is skilled at balancing life’s demands. He asks about school projects and offers encouragement without taking over. He knows when to be the Fun Loving Dad, but he also works hard. Relationships are what is important to him. He values and accepts his family. He spends more time working hard on his character defects than his hair. If he’s wrong, he’s quick to acknowledge the mistake. Life with Healthy Dad feels safe and secure. In recovery, we would say he was a mentally and emotionally healthy Dad. He has learned how to balance his flaws with his strengths.
No matter what kind of Dad you have it is important to remember that they are people with their own story doing the best they can. The story they have is not your story. You are you. You get to write your own story and as they say in recovery rooms, “Take what you like and leave the rest. ” Reclaiming who you are helps you to gain a healthier perspective of this relationship. Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there working hard to love their families well.
A Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By: Nadine Knapp
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