I have decided now that Evan is here that the subject matter of my blog can now shift from all things pregnancy / newborn to all things parenting, from the father’s point of view anyway. Being a father requires you to have tough skin, especially if you have teenage daughters. If you have a daughter and she has not yet entered her teenage years enjoy the time you have with her now. At 9 years old your daughter thinks the world of you, you are a real life super hero to her. If there is a bug on wall, a monster in the closet or a thunderstorm outside, who does she turn to for protection? Her Daddy of course!
Now for those who are new to the blog or just don’t remember I have two teenage girls, Tami will be 14 in September and is mine, Justine is already 14 and is my step-daughter (that will be the last time you hear her referred to as “step” just wanted to clarify for now). I had a good father and daughter relationship with Tami for the first 9 years or so and then her mother and I got divorced. It’s unfortunate the way that divorce can affect the relationship and the grasp you have on your children, especially if you are the father because no matter how much you plead your case, unless your ex is a drug addict or abuser the children generally go to their mother. I have seen changes in her almost from the moment the divorce was finalized.
Over the last year Shawna and I have noticed a difference in the way she acts when she is with us, very stand offish, and almost looks like she is told she is going to be walking the green mile at any moment. So finally last week after being turned down for a lunch visit with me at work and her deciding, without asking me, to baby sit instead of coming over at the time she was supposed to I told her that from now on if she doesn’t want to come over every Monday and Wednesday she doesn’t have to. I was hoping that this would accomplish two things, the first of which being a little tough love. I was hoping this would show her how I felt, what it is like to feel a little let down the way I do when she turns down the opportunity to spend time with us. The other thing I was hoping it would do is get her more interested in coming because she isn’t forced to. Of course neither one has come to fruition so far. I think she was relieved that she doesn’t have to come here on a regular schedule and in fact she was supposed to come over last night and chose not to. Again, the need for tough skin is ever so prevalent when dealing with teenage girls.
My other daughter Justine has a father who comes and goes depending on his relationship status. If he has a new girlfriend he tends to show up more than he does when he is single. We may not hear from him for 4 or 5 months and then he goes on a stretch where he wants her every other weekend for about a month or so and then vanishes again. I have known Justine for about 5 years now and feel no differently for her than I do Tami, but alas she is a teenage girl and there for, like the other teenage girl in my life, repeatedly makes me feel like I am nothing but a cab service and ATM without meaning it. Her on again off again father does not pay child support nor does he make any attempt to however his current girlfriend and her two or three kids live in a house, with a pool and drive a relatively new SUV. When she is with him her limitations are minimal, she is on the computer at 3am and gets brought to a night club on the boardwalk at Sea Side Heights NJ for teen night (13 – 18 year olds). Within my walls the computer time is limited and a night club is something she only sees on TV. I understand he is her father and she has more freedoms when she is with him however my comments on Facebook get deleted, I get the bitchy attitudes for 11.5 months a year and I foot the bill (gladly by the way) for all of her expenses. One day I hope these girls realize that I am a little stricter than their other parents because I care and am looking out for them. I was a father at 14 and refuse to be a 28 year old grandfather.
My ultimate goal as a parent is to be a parent first and their friend second. I am not looking to score points for being awesome, I am looking to score respect. I might not get my reward until the girls are married and have kids of their own but that is fine by me. When I am a grandpa one day and my grand kids are being bitchy to their parents and shouting about how unfair life is that is, that is when my reward hits. When the girls realize just how much I sacrificed of my time, money, blood, sweat and tears and how they were to me, that’s the moment I am waiting for.