The Best Friend I Never Knew I Had

The importance of a father in a son’s life

What does it mean to be a best friend to someone? Let’s go with the following: A best friend is someone you value above other friends. Someone you trust. Someone who is unconditionally supportive in a non-judgmental way.

Next question, how do we define fatherhood? This one is simple; the state of having one or more children.

Another question for you. How many times do we hear anyone refer to their father as their best friend? Is such a statement common? If not why not?

What does the role of fatherhood involve? From Biblical times onwards, being a father was presented as being the primary figure of authority over the family. The world and society’s view of fatherhood has changed dramatically since such times.

In the mid-twentieth century, parental roles were culturally constructed to place the father in the role of the breadwinner and the mother as the house-wife. And arguably, society judged the value of fathers based on their ability to bring in the income for their household.

In terms of research into the importance of fathers, in this same time period, only a small number of studies investigated the role of a father in a child’s life. And the few studies that did attempt to focus on the importance of a father, took qualitative evidence from the opinion of mothers.

Unfortunately, many of those outdated 1950s parental stereotypes still remain today. Most of all in the family court arena.

  • A staggering 97% of child residencies are given to mothers following separation. (University of East Anglia, UK).
  • 96% of all child arrangements order applications are made by fathers. (University of Warwick, UK).

Fathers have an equally integral part to play in the upbringing of children as mothers do. However, as the above statistics show fathers continue to not be viewed in the same equal light as mothers in some areas of today’s society.

A plethora of recently undertaken studies informs us that a father’s positive influence also extends into adolescence and young adulthood. These same studies also inform us that a nurturing and active style of fathering is associated with greater intellectual functioning, better verbal skills, and more positive academic achievement among adolescents.

I myself am a father of three beautiful children. However, the mother of my children continues to deny me a relationship with all of them. This is despite numerous court orders to the contrary and the threat of a custodial sentence.

Due to this ongoing and unjustified contact denial by their very own mother, I have not had any meaningful contact with my three children since the summer of 2016.

My own dad over the last couple of difficult years has become my best friend.

My dad fits the remit that makes a best friend; he is someone I value above other friends. I most definitely trust him. And suffice to say he is always unconditionally supportive in a non-judgmental way.

My dad has always been an important, integral and supportive figure in my life. Unfortunately, it has taken me far too long to realize that.

I am one of the lucky ones. I am very fortunate in that I had a loving and happy childhood, and my dad, of course, was an integral part of this.

There is one childhood memory I would like to share. My dad took me to a local playground. While there I remember some other children started picking on me. My dad didn’t intervene. He stood and watched. Such situations are all about context.

My dad is no pushover. I wouldn’t describe my dad as a stereotypical alpha-male, but as a child, I always viewed my dad as invincible. He would always stand up for what he thought was right. His behaviors were guided by his morals and values.

As a father should, he was and still remains the most positive male role model in my life.

In returning to the playground incident, I do not know if my dad’s non-intervention was intentional or not. But on reflection, I have come to understand that in such situations we don’t always have someone there to help us out of a challenging situation.

Obviously, at that young age, I did not have the emotional intelligence to take my dad’s non-intervention as a valuable life lesson.

My dad, me and Harvey the rabbit, taken sometime in the 1970s

So what has my dad taught me? Amongst other things, he has taught me the importance of kindness, love, compassion and good values. And it is these very attributes and values that I took with me into adulthood.

If we have no positive role model to look up to, who do we become?

Like many of us, I have experienced extreme adversities in life. I have used what my dad has taught me about life to face, manage and where possible overcome these adversities. And all throughout these difficult times, I have always had my dad around as and when I need him.

Me and my dad in 1997

My dad has always been there for me. And I know, for as long as he is with us, he will continue to be there for me.

My dad is the best friend I never knew I had.

My hopes and dreams for the future are to be the father to my children, that my father was to me.

In my stories, I only occasionally finish with a quote. But, a brief quote would never be able to encapsulate what a son needs from a father. Hence the inclusion of the following paragraph by Ian Morgan Cron.

“A boy needs a father to show him how to be in the world. He needs to be given swagger, taught how to read a map so that he can recognize the roads that lead to life and the paths that lead to death, how to know what love requires, and where to find steel in the heart when life makes demands on us that are greater than we think we can endure”

Ian Morgan Cron (Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir. . . of Sorts, 2011)

Originally published in Medium publication ‘Hopes & Dreams for Our Future‘ 13/04/19.

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