I've been thinking about this a lot. One of the things that keeps coming up over and over in the book I discussed in my previous post is that women will often stay with a man who is unkind, and even down right abusive, if he is also a "good father" to their children. Basically - treating me like crap is fine, as long as you don't beat the kids.
But the weird thing is that if you think about it a man can't be both. He can't be an abuser and a good father. How we live, how we treat those around us teaches our children more than the words we say. How can you tell if a man is going to be a good father? Had I known the answer to this question 15 Years ago I could have saved the five of us so much pain and suffering.
On the outside my X probubly did look like a good father. He was a good provider, bringing home a nice big pay check which allowed me to stay home with the kids. We were fed, well dressed, the kids were involved in tons of activities (none of which he bothered to attend) and were generally in good spirits. The thing is - behind closed doors he was rude, abrasive, demanding, demeaning, and generally uninvolved. He did not make requests - he made demands.
Had I known what kind of father he would be I would have made different choices - at least I would like to think that I would have... the truth is I had four children with a man who was uninvolved from day one. That's a choice I'll have to live with.
If I could make a laundry list of "good dad" traits I would have to start with:
An interest in knowing who my children are as people
A good sense of humor
Is that asking too much? Is that unrealistic?
I know there are men out there like that. My father is one of them. He doesn't say much, but he tells me he loves me. He shows me in a million different ways. He can be hard-headed, but he's fair. He's hardworking and he's honest.
I'm hoping that one day my children can say that they've had that kind of father figure in their life as well. Things with BLT are still new - and while he has all of those qualities, I'm not foolish enough to assume that we'll be together forever. I'm not sure "forever" exists, I want to believe it can - I just don't know for sure.