Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Power of Dad…part 2

We talked before about the awesome Power of Dad. Every dad has it. Some are aware of it and some are not. In either case, it is easy to abuse the Power of Dad and in most situations the dad isn’t even aware of the impact he is having on his children.

I’ve witnessed first hand the results of the Power of Dad. I’ve seen what abuse of that power can do to an entire family and not just the child affected.

Here is the story of one grown woman that I know….
This woman was severely affected by a dad who lived to serve only his own interests. Between the ages of 9 to 11, this woman was molested and abused by her uncle. She told her father about it, but he did not believe her and choose to defend his younger brother instead of protect his own daughter. She begged her dad not to send her back to that house, but he made her go anyway. Every summer. The little girl begged and pleaded for her father to protect her and not let her go back to that house, but he made her go anyway. His final response to his daughter was to tell her that it was God’s way of punishing her for not being a good girl. He told her that she deserved it!
(According to the rest of the family, she WAS a good girl.)
Her dad had let her down and proved to her that she wasn’t very important to him.
During her teenage years, this woman dated one boy for seven years. Her father thought this boy was terrific. However, this boy treated her badly. He abused her, took her for granted, controlled her, beat her and raped her.

She finally found the courage to leave that abusive relationship when she met the man who would marry her a few years later. She looked to this man to rescue her from her abusive boyfriend and from her controlling and demeaning father. Her father never respected her as a person and she was afraid of him.
The thing that puzzled me the most was that after all he had done to drive his daughter away, she still sought to please him and to make him proud of her.
That is the Power of Dad. Some men just don’t deserve to have it, but they do.

The whole family was affected by this man. Each of the woman’s siblings would sell one another out for just one glimmer of hope to be seen favorably in that man’s eyes. He had each of them under his thumb and did his best to control them, including his wife.

The only decent people in the family that I knew of were the woman’s grandparents on her mother’s side. They were truly nice people and they did not like or approve of the woman’s father. But he was their son-in-law so they tolerated him.

The woman grew up, got married and had a child of her own. But daddy wasn’t done with his life lessons to his children just yet. Once the grandfather passed away, the first person to the house was her “daddy”. No, he didn’t go to comfort the widow, he went to clean out his father-in-law’s closet and go through his stuff and fill his pockets. I’m not making this up, this is what this man did (I saw him do it).

Not long after the funeral, “daddy” talked his mother-in-law into "loaning" him the bulk of her savings account, telling her that he would pay her more each month than that account was paying in interest. It is important to know that this man initiated this deal right after learning that grandma had cancer and had maybe only a few years left to live. He knew he would never have to repay that loan.
Since she was the oldest grandchild, grandma showed the woman a copy of the will so she’d know what was in there. Grandma’s will stated that the grandchildren would each receive an equal share of all the liquid assets upon her death, and their daughter (the woman’s mother) and son-in-law (daddy) would receive the house and property (which wasn’t very much compared to the cash in that savings account).

In short, “daddy” took all of grandma’s money, paid off his own house and began making small payments to grandma. This cut his mortgage payments by more than half and he now had control over grandma since he now controlled her income (he took it all!).

Sure enough, grandma passed away a couple of years later and daddy was now debt free. The kids? After they sold grandma’s house, they each got a small portion of the sale price, which daddy refused to fully disclose.

She hated her father for what he had done, but still made every effort to please him. I once asked her why she was still so nice to him after all the things he had done to hurt her and cheat her. She looked me right in the eye, and with a devilish little sneer told me that she desires to stay in his good graces because someday he will die and she will get all that money!

Why is that important to the Power of Dad? Because a few years later, the woman drove her husband into an obscene amount of debt, stole all the money from her children’s savings accounts, divorced her husband in an effort to cover up her actions, and lied to everyone she knew, about who was responsible. To this day, a lot of people still blame her ex-husband for all of it.

Her daddy taught her well. He never told her to do any of those unspeakable things. He simply showed her how.

Another bad dad……
His daughter is still a teenager. She’s fun, she’s pretty and she is full of energy. She’s also very smart and incredibly talented. Her father however, thinks only of himself. He drives a brand new expensive car while his children are forced to use an unsafe old rust-bucket type vehicle. He dresses very well in expensive fine clothing while his children wear old rags. The children are often left on their own to fend for themselves while “daddy” is out enjoying himself. He has no skills, no education, but he’s married wealthy women. Twice. Yet he brags to his kids that he is a self-made man who worked his way to the top of the corporate ladder.
This girl recently won an award from school, and invited her father to come to the banquet to see her get the award. He promised he’d be there. As she arrived to the school where the banquet was held, she called her dad to let him know she was there. He was still at home. He had forgotten all about it. This is not an isolated incident. This happens all the time. I overheard her complaining to a friend about what a jerk her dad is, but then stated that he gave her a wad of cash, so everything is okay now.

His sons lie and steal and are constantly getting into some sort of trouble. One son is known to steal cars from family members and go for joy rides (without a driver’s license). The oldest said his dad taught him that before you do anything for someone else, you must first ask yourself “What’s in it for me?”.

This guy is clearly abusing his Power of Dad.

What about me?
I am most certainly not perfect. I don’t come close, not even on a good day.
I have made way more than my share of mistakes. I have abused the Power of Dad.
Any man who has children has abused the Power of Dad at one point or another. Most men don’t realize it at the time. The problem isn’t in abusing the Power, the problem arises in what the dad chooses to do about it once he realizes it.
No child will think any less of you for kneeling down beside them and begging for their forgiveness. I’ve done this many times.

Like I said, I’ve made my share of mistakes. I thank God that I learned to deal with it early on.

I have no memory of my childhood before the age of 5 or 6. Several family members tell me that this actually a good thing and would rather not tell me why, so they don’t.
It is for that reason that my wife encouraged me to start blogging, to keep a journal of some sort, to write down my thoughts as they came to me in an effort to help me remember things so I can resolve old issues and move past old hurts.

When my son was small, he got into trouble as little boys often do. Sometimes, when my son would need to be disciplined, I would find myself getting angry. One time, as I was about to unleash that anger on him, I had a flash back to my own childhood. I saw myself, as a small boy, being hurled into a wall or getting kicked in the backside by pointy-toed cowboy boots. Those are the impressions my father had left on me that I had apparently repressed.

Those visions scared me deeply and I vowed to never do those things to my son.
Instead, I would tell my son to go to his room and wait for me there. My son would go to his room and I would go someplace else so that I could cool down and think about how to deal with my son in a loving manner. And pray. None of this was easy. It took a lot of prayer and a lot of strength.

During this time my son would sit in his room and think about what he had done and what was coming his way. He and I had a deal. If he messed up, he would get spanked. Once I had cooled off and could think with a clear head, I would go to my son’s room where I would find him waiting for me. I would sit down on his bed next to him and we would talk about what he had done, why it was wrong and what he should do the next time. After our talk, I would hold him, hug him, pray with him and for him, then bend him over my knee and give him his swat. He was usually crying hard long before getting the swat. I would hug him again, tell him I love him, and leave his room. When he finished crying he was allowed to come out.

That’s usually how it went, but not always. Sometimes I messed up and had to ask his forgiveness.

My son is now 19 and lives with me. He hugs me every day, kisses me on the cheek and says “I love you Dad”. Every day. He works hard and everyone who knows him thinks he is terrific. He just got promoted at work and is doing rather well. He recently told me, “Dad? Remember how you always tried to teach me to do the right thing even when you don’t want to? Well, dang it, I keep catching myself doing that and sometimes it really bugs me!” From his tone of voice, he was complaining!

Then he paused and calmly said, “Thanks, Dad”.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

Did I mention that he likes to go to church with us each week?
Yeah, I think we’ll keep him.



That Chick Over There said...

So sad how people sometimes can't realize the privledge of being a parent. The honor.

Dr.John said...

My daughter tells me I was and am a good Dad. I certainly tried. I often asked for forgiveness though I never hit them. They were always entitled to dignity and respect. They have all turned out well.

EE said...

That was powerful, Dude. I am so thankful that God has blessed me with a husband who doesn't often abuse his powers of a father/husband.
I love that you are journaling and trying to make peace with your past.
You're a good man.

my4kids said...

I love your power of dad posts they are so true.
Your son sounds like a great kid, dude.