Progress not perfection

I listened to a man the other day who thought he was a pretty rubbish dad.

He had always been nervous with his daughter – he dropped her when she was a baby, and one day he was holding her and she was burnt by the kettle.

Set against a fractious marriage, when the time came for he and his wife to split up, this man figured they were both better off without him.

Whether he was harsh on himself or not is something for him to figure out, but when the marriage broke down, his daughter was 8 and suddenly found herself fatherless.

Her dad moved to another State and there were sporadic phone calls.

This man never stopped loving his daughter but he wasn’t getting any better at being a Dad. It was easier to write himself off as bad at it and stay away.

But everyone grows up – kids and fathers. And if there is one thing you can be sure of, teenage girls are pretty good at getting their own way.

When this man’s daughter was 13 she put him on the spot.

“I’m going to ask you a question,” she told him in a phone call.

His stomach dropped and his mind flooded with all his mistakes, his laziness, everything he had put in the too hard basket. There were a million accusatory questions he felt she could quite fairly level at him. He couldn’t answer any of them.

“We are going to talk on the phone every Sunday and every week I’m going to ask you a question,” his daughter continued. “You can ask me a question too, but we both have to make a deal that we will be 100% honest with each other.”

It had been five years since he left his family, he had hardly seen his daughter and it was time to face the music.

“Ok,” he agreed.

“What’s your favourite colour,” his daughter asked.

And like a ton of bricks it struck him. His daughter didn’t know him and he didn’t know her. But she wanted to know him and he desperately wanted to know her.

Kids don’t go away, they are always yours. No matter how hard things may seem at times, even when it feels like the canyon is deep and it’s impossible to climb out, there is a way.

Keep looking until you find it. Have faith that your kids need and want you as much as you want them and one way or another you will find your way back to each other.

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