Any child of divorce automatically has a different (but not necessarily more difficult) set of challenges than a child in a two-parent household. If the marriage component is dysfunctional, the family members are stressed and tend to adapt dysfunctional” (Bradshaw 32). Would counter that the same goes for an ended marriage. I grew up in two single-parent households (my mother and father divorced before I was born). As I now know my parents, I frankly can’t understand why they ever got married in the first place.
My mother is a liberal special-education teacher and my father is a conservative retired county employee. My mother is permissive and opposed corporal punishment and my father is strict and spanked me when I was bad. My father’s way of raising me reflected an “Acts of Service” love language, according to Dry. Chessman’s survey, in which his providing a roof over my head and food on the table was how he showed love and my obedience to him was what determined how much affection I was shown. Switched houses on a biweekly basis and as such I had to live under two very different sets of rules for my early childhood.
This can be sort of confusing, to say the least. When my mother remarried I witnessed a relatively stable relationship with a lot of give and take whereas when my father remarried witnessed a father knows best” type of dynamic in which his authority was rarely questioned or challenged. It is asking quite a lot of a twelve-year-old to try to make sense Of relationships with opposing examples being exhibited every other week. This changed when I turned fourteen and my mother and stepfather moved to Northern California and went with them.
I think that my father was hurt by my choice to go with them and his stern visage was probably useful in masking this pain. Now, instead of every other week, switched homes during summer, winter and spring breaks from school. At that time, I dollied Kurt Cabin of Nirvana and I wanted to grow my hair out long like him, which my mother allowed during the school year. As soon as I returned to Fresno, however, my dad took me straight to the barbershop while telling me that my long hair would cause me to hang out with the wrong crowd.
Bradshaw states that “(e)ACH child also needs the security to grow through experimenting with his unique individuality’ (Bradshaw 52) and I very much lacked this security. Through my high school years my rebellious streak put a further strain on my relationship with my father. I began playing music in punk rock bands, an activity my dad saw as useless as far as contributing to my future. What began as a little pot smoking and toilet papering of principals houses in my early teens turned into hard drug use, breaking and entering and trips to juvenile hall a few years later.
It was at these times that my relationship with my father became apparently strained. Upon returning from my first trip to juvenile hall, my dad told me over the phone that had I been in his custody at that time, he would’ve punched me in the face. I felt this threat to be gratuitous; wondered if he wished I were in his custody so that he could hit e as if that would somehow be therapeutic for him or me. The following summer I had gotten a job so I declined to return to Fresno in order to work. He did not object.
Thus passed the final summer of my time in high school; following my senior year would enter the summer semester at Coolly San Luis Obis and the most difficult time between my father and me. Had chosen a major that didn’t really have passion for at the time, social science, and I was living completely outside parental control for the first time in my life. I spoke with my father in late May of that year and told him that I planned to visit him for Father’s Day, though in my typical laziness and passive-aggression I never made that trip and that would be the last time would talk to him for nearly a year and a half.
I focused my time more on partying than on studying and my substance abuse problems turned much worse. Within the span of a few months I had overdosed on cocaine, injured myself several times while inebriated and been to jail three times for alcohol-related offenses. If my dad had been mad when went to juvenile hall, I was sure he’d be absolutely furious at my current state. An appropriate bookend to my first stint in allege was me being kicked out for poor grades and moving back in with my mom and stepped. By this point, it would take a pretty drastic occurrence for me to talk to my dad again.
One September morning got a call from my mom while I was at work. She told me that my paternal grandmother had called to inform me that my aunt, Cheryl, a woman who spent years watching me after school before my dad got home, had died after a six-month battle with metastasis melanoma. Was saddened and angry. The anger came from not being told that she was sick. For a whole six months as she lay dying in the hospital I was UT a phone call away… But then again, did ignore a lot of calls from restricted numbers… Numbers that could have been that side of the family trying to reach me.
I put my shame and anger aside and called Grandma. We spoke for nearly half an hour and I told her what I’d been up to. She wasn’t happy about it but she told me she loved me and she also told me that I should call my dad. Eventually I contacted my father and we had a reunion at my best friend’s wedding. Was afraid of seeing him again and of what he would say to me but losing my aunt had made me realize that the people I love won’t be around reeve so I need to make the most of the time that I have with them. This point was driven home two years later when my grandmother found out that she had lung cancer.
Though she lived in Clevis and I lived in Redding, a distance Of 300 miles, I took every long weekend had and spent them with my her (she was living with my dad and stepson at that point). Was with her the day before she died and I was there when she was buried in a beautiful cemetery in Sham Valley, right next to my grandfather and aunt. Dysfunctional families are a generational cycle (Bradshaw 25). My fathers ether was a police officer and he ran his household as such. My dad once related to me that his dad caught him sneaking out of the house late one night and decked him right across the jaw.
My dad also told me that he was, prior to his conservative republican days, a revolutionary communist during college which did not settle well with my grandfather. Those days were filled with much animosity and argument between the two of them. When he finally settled down and was able to interact man to man instead of subject to regent, my grandfather had already succumbed to Alchemist’s and couldn’t even remember my dad’s name. My grandfather passed before I was born but he played a big part in raising me. It was after really thinking about this that forgave my dad in my heart and he has since begun treating me as his adult son.
He has even helped to get the Clevis Police Department, for whom his is a volunteer patrolman, to stop harassing me around town when previously he would have encouraged them to handcuff and book me. He knows my son and will hopefully live to see him grow up, an experience that his father didn’t have with his grandson. My dad even looks genuinely happy when he’s playing with baby Nicolas, a look that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Ross his forbidding countenance. It was after forgiving him that I can see him as the “real finite human being (he is)” (Bradshaw 48) and still love him.
My aunt’s death opened my eyes but it also started me thinking about what kind of father would someday be. That day is now here where I must be the father that I should be. I want to have a relationship with my son where I’ll always have his back. Even if he’s wrong, I’ll let him know that I still love him. Even if he pushes me away, I’ll still be there for him when he’s ready to stop pushing. I won’t judge him too harshly on his choices because we’re all unman and we’re bound to make bad ones from time to time; it’s what we learn from them that matters.