So, what’s it like being brought up by just your Dad. Here, the wonderful Alexa offers us her insight…Thank you Alexa – a brilliant guest post 🙂
I recently watched a television programme where the lead characters wore t-shirts which contained slogans that defined who they were. I remember thinking then that mine would read ‘Product of a Single Parent Dad’ (not just because of my preference for action films, obsession with spicy food and amazing D.I.Y skills) but because that chapter of my life has defined a large part of who I am. Seven and a half years later I still watch with a mixture of anger and amusement when a look of confusion spreads across someone’s face as they begin to understand that it’s not just women in this county ‘going it alone’. Because this might surprise you Mr Cameron but mothers can be absent too!
My parents’ divorce was far from amicable and with hindsight was an indication of the difficulty ahead. Yet when I look back at that time the one thing I respect my father for the most was not the fact that he managed to keep a roof over our head or some money in the bank, but that he was always honest with me. It was nice to know that in a time of uncertainty the one thing we always had was each other. Divorce is not just a legal process and it doesn’t just affect children! Believe me when I say that a parent is not the only one who wishes they could protect someone during divorce. From watching my Dad I think that divorce is a process which really proves to a single parent dad who his true friends are. Unfortunately in my Dad’s case it proved that he did not have any, as one by one they began to pretend they did not see him across the road and they didn’t return their phone calls.
Without doubt the biggest tribulation for me and my Dad was my father’s illness. Just before my fifteenth birthday he was rushed into hospital and I was told that he probably wouldn’t make it through the night and, if he did then he was to face major surgery, which also had extremely poor chances of success. I had already tackled that horrible moment when a girl realises that her father is not Bruce Willis in ‘Die Hard’, but is in fact just an ordinary, mortal and now I lived in fear of the possibility that he may in fact prove to be Bruce Willis in ‘The Sixth Sense’. Those hours were the longest hours of my life as I considered what would happen to me if he died. That said, after watching my Dad’s journey, I didn’t once doubt that I would be able to cope with whatever it was I had to face. My dad had made me a strong person, he had proved to me that the only person who determines your future is you and I knew that because of that I would never be defeated. Luckily for us we do not believe in odds! His surgery was drastic and it had a long recovery time but once again he proved just how determined a single parent father is when he is fighting for his child and some hours later he lay wide awake.
Before anyone reaches for the Vodka bottle let me tell you that my experiences have not all been doom and gloom. As a result of our time together me and my Dad have a relationship that is stronger than it would ever have been before and I never underestimate how hard it must have been for him to take on the role of both parents during my teenage years. Take boyfriends for example, whilst part of him probably wanted to suspend me in a glass box above the town, the other part of him still had to help me choose an outfit for a date and give me a hug after a break up. When the day comes that I myself have children, I can only hope that I manage to have the same strength and understanding with them that my father had with me. In fact, if I am loved even a tenth of the amount that I love my father then I can rest assured that I will have done a good job.
There are some parts of my experience as the daughter of a single parent dad that are more frustrating however. It is actually a struggle to coherently explain how it feels to constantly watch politicians, archbishops, even talk show guests, discuss children of single parents as if they are all angry, violent delinquents who cannot deal with their problems. As this is a personal vice of mine I think it only right to end with a few comments on the matter. Thanks to the more difficult circumstances, I have learnt just how strong I can be and face every problem in my life head on. As much as many of our politicians like to believe that all children of single parent families fill their prison cells and rehab centres, this child of a single parent dad passed every exam at school (including her A-levels at AAB grade), she is in her second year of university, has moved out and set up her own home and holds down a job. Maybe it is time for this country to celebrate those parents who manage to bring their children up splendidly on their own rather than regarding them as a drain on finances or blaming them for society’s problems.
So to start us off I give celebration to my Dad: the man who sacrificed anything he had to make sure I had the best start he could give me, the man who never judges me but allows me to make my own mistakes and always picks up the pieces after, the man who taught me the meaning of responsibility, the man who showed me that what is ‘right’ is not always what’s easy and above all, the man who has proved to be the most fantastic Dad anyone could ask for!
Alexa Dear (Product of a single parent Dad)