By Tammi Pitzen, Executive Director of The Children’s Advocacy Center of Jackson County
I am definitely my father’s daughter.
I can remember when I was 4 or so, following him around just like his shadow, no matter what he was doing. When he was mowing the lawn, I was right there in his footsteps making every turn, row by row. When he was building stuff out in the carport…you bet I was there with my fingers in my ears. I also remember my Dad making just about everything a game or a story. He used to hide Lifesavers around the house for me and my sister to find. He and I had this running story about Tippy our dog…which as I grew up sounded very much like stories of Snoopy’s adventures.
In my pre-adolescent years, we had a standing date every Saturday night from April to June or so. We would go downtown and watch Little League Baseball games. It didn’t matter really who was playing, but being a small town, we were pretty sure we would know the players. I love baseball to this day; not because of the game but because of those warm humid nights under the lights sitting in an uncomfortable lawn chair with my Dad next me. I don’t care about watching it on T.V. It isn’t about the game.
In high school I can remember more than once my dad wiping my tears after a broken heart—sometimes broken by a “dumb” boy, sometimes broken by my own actions and sometimes broken because life is unfair.
One of my very favorite “Dad” memories was my junior year in high school. My mom must have had something going on…I don’t remember how this fell to him, but he took me to the mall—an hour one way from our town—to shop for a prom dress. I remember that prom being a disaster for me, but I always smile when I think of it because I had the trendiest, prettiest dress featured in Seventeen magazine.
He has been such an important part of guiding me into the person that I am today. I sleep, to this day, with his dog tags lying on my nightstand from his Vietnam days. A symbol for me of determination, courage and survival—reminding me that obstacles are made to be overcome.
I see the importance of a father’s love in my son’s life. I see it in the way he mimics his father’s mannerisms. I hear it when he asks his dad “Did I do good?” after a baseball game or after casting his fishing line. I hear it in his laughter when he and his Dad are playing one of those annoying “boy” games that I don’t understand. I see it in his eyes when they light up when Dad tells him he’s done a good job. I see it when he deflates because Dad reprimanded him for something that he did. I know that he feels protected when his Dad is around because on the, now, rare occasions that his Dad travels without us; he somehow always ends up sleeping with me. No matter what…from leaf blowers (no joke) to sandals, “I want, fill in the blank, just like Dad’s!”
Sigmund Freud stated the strongest need in childhood is a father’s protection. There is research out there that says that children with involved fathers have a social and academic advantage over their counterparts whose dads are absent.
There is some evidence that a child’s primary relationship with his/her father can affect all of their future relationships from cradle to death. The early patterns of interaction with their father are the very patterns that will be replayed in future relationships. These patterns impact not only a child’s idea of who they are and how they relate to others, but also defines what is considered acceptable and loving when it comes to relationships for the child, throughout life.
Don’t believe it? Well there is a ton of research out there these days that back up these ideas—google it.
It makes sense to me. As a mom I don’t feel like believing this diminishes my role in my child’s life.
In a world that has historically always made an emphasis on how important our relationship with our mom is, this does shine some light on the role Dad’s play in the life of their children. Also, let’s be real, it takes some pressure off us moms! Not everything is our fault!
On this Father’s Day, I wish my Dad a very happy Father’s Day. Thank you for always being there to wipe my tears, to buy me dinner on my birthday, and to teach me about integrity, courage, perseverance, and to teach me about love. I wish my husband and my son’s father, a spectacular day! Thanks for helping to create and mold the most amazing little boy I have ever met.
On this Father’s Day I wish all the Dad’s or Dad substitutes out there, a very happy Father’s Day filled with all things spectacular! Your presence in the lives of our children is life changing! Your love, your participation, your guidance in the lives of our children is what is going to make a difference in the world we live in.