Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics


It’s an easily made observation that adults often have some idea or other about how their dads failed them, in this way or that way.  He wasn’t home enough, and when he was home he was distant, ‘not there.’ He didn’t manage at home very well, he let the mom take over and he was a passive perhaps pussy-whipped appendage.  Or he was domineering and controlling and nothing was ever good enough for him.  He was maybe like another one of the kids, like an older bully brother who took out his frustrations with verbal, emotional, and/or physical abuse on his weaker ‘siblings.’  

It’s also easily observed that some adults (mainly girl adults) idealize their dads, can see no mistakes, only the goodest, kindest, bestest, and nicest of men whose only failing, if you can even call it that, was marrying the wrong girl, or not being firm enough with her nutty demands.  

And yet there is no doubt that having a great dad is a real bridge to getting though the normal frustrations of life – work, money, respect, et al.  

But, what is a great dad made of?  

Psychoanalysts necessarily examine the ‘dad’ situation, and do have some ideas, that I will helpfully list:

A father can manage with what he has, he doesn’t always long for the impossible, or live in constant and cranky frustration because he never got his ‘fair due.’  A father can make lemonade out of lemons.  

A father manages in the big bad world, he figures out a way to feed, house, and protect his family, and in this way he demonstrates that the world at large isn’t so very impossible (which is often how it seems to little kids).

A father likes the woman he elected to impregnate. He likes her for who she is, and not who he may wish she were. And he shows that he likes her, by conversing with her just like she’s an equal, only different.  When his parenting partner may get a bit overwrought, he’s calming. When his partner is being too hard on the kids, he talks with his partner and he may for a time take on his partner’s share of parenting.  

A father loves and lusts for the partner he lives with, and lets the kids know this one is his, they have to go find their own partners, this one is taken.

A father teaches life skills. He shows his kids how to work toward plausible goals, and how to accept their failures and shortcomings without judging themselves harshly. In short, he shows his kids how to manage life.  

A father has humor, he can laugh at himself, and he can see the humor in the human condition.  

A father can ‘let go’ when he can see his kids need to try things on their own, but his kids always know he’s there for them, in some difficulty or crisis. If his daughter or son is stranded by irresponsible friends, she can call him whatever the time and he won’t chew her out, he’ll go pick her up.  

A father doesn’t take advantage of the weaknesses of others. He doesn’t pile on, or preen himself at the expense of someone who hasn’t his advantages, wealth or skills. A father lends a helping hand.  

A father competes, and does his best, and doesn’t get all bent out of shape if he doesn’t do as well as he’d hoped.  A father sees the pleasure of hard work and gets satisfaction from his efforts.  

A father doesn’t disappear into a bottle, or abuse drugs to manage his daily emotions.  Life doesn’t seem to hard to bear for a father.  

A father likes his children and lets them know it. A father is someone his children can talk to about their lives and their problems. A father knows how to listen. A father doesn’t need to know everything.  

With this list (and if I’ve missed a few items, feel free to chime in) one may wonder why any man would take on such a task.  Especially when it’s impossible to be perfect even if he tries, and when we know, when their adult children go into psychotherapy, they’ll likely still talk about how their dads let them down, in this way or that way..  

So let’s hear it for dads.  I wish I still had mine.  


  1. anna shane

    was such a kind man.  He did come pick me up.  I’m so glad you got a good one and your son shows him.  

  2. Shaun Appleby

    Was blissfully unaware of ‘Father’s’ day.  I’m a single dad with a young teenager and I wasn’t about to remind him, it’s fine, we share such a boy-o existence together it seemed hardly necessary to celebrate it further.  Guys don’t do that stuff.  We discussed the intricacies of Iranian politics on the way to school this morning so he could stump his teacher again.

  3. this is very nice.

    Dad is a bizarrely difficult job, but the rewards are worth any price.  I had a hard time picking the last word for that sentence, because while intellectually I understand it is not all sun and roses it is hard to see any of it as a “cost” or a “burden”.  Fatherhood is just the best job in the world.

  4. fogiv

    …I got to tell my Father that I loved him, and made my 9 month old son belly laugh so hard that he fell over.

    Best. Father’s Day.  Ever.

    Great diary Anna, thanks for posting.

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