Growing Up Without My Dad: A Case Study
Kara, 24, had not seen her dad for 14 years when she decided to get back in touch with him. She says although it is great to have a relationship with him now, she wishes she hadn’t missed out on so many years.
“I was a real daddy’s girl when I was little. He was a fireman and I remember him taking me down to the station and letting me try on the hat and sit in the fire engine – I looked up to him so much. Then, when I was 6, my parents split up. It was a huge shock not to have my dad around every day and I couldn’t really understand why it was happening. He only moved across town though, so I would still see a lot of him and we stayed close.
“About a year later, my grandma got sick and my mum moved me and my brother up to Scotland so she could care for her. Being torn away from my dad was heartbreaking but I know my mum was in a difficult situation. Dad would still write and call us and I even went down to stay with him a few times. Slowly that all fizzled out though. He got a new partner and family and I guess it was hard to fit us into his new life.”
Missing Dad“After a while, we got used to not seeing my dad but there were still moments when I really wanted him there. Although mum did a great job of giving us everything we needed and being there for us, I still felt like I was missing out.”
Kara says that it was always particularly difficult on father's day, at school events, or on birthdays when everyone else had their dads around.
“I can’t say that I had a bad childhood – I didn’t, and kids learn to adapt very quickly – but my mum never re-married and I always felt the lack of a male figure in my life, especially when I started dating.”
Getting Back in Touch“I met my husband, Mark, at school and we got engaged when I was 20. I was so excited about planning our wedding but I couldn’t stop thinking about not having my dad to walk me down the aisle. I spoke to mum about it and she said that if I wanted to contact him, she would support me but didn’t want me to get my hopes up too much.
“It wasn’t difficult to find him and we spoke on the phone. I was so nervous but it was really easy to chat and we decided to meet up. There were so many things I wanted to say but it took me a while to raise the subject of why he stopped seeing me. It was painful but very cathartic to talk about it and realise that no situation is ever black and white and he had missed me too.
“Walking down the aisle with my dad on my arm was as emotional as getting married. We can’t get back all those years, and we haven’t totally rebuilt our relationship but I am very happy to have him back in my life.”
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