Thanks Dad: Being There

During bedtime the other night my stepdaughter, Allie, made a remark to my wife that caught me off guard. “She sat up and said, ‘You know, Mom, Ron’s like a real dad to us.’” The way I leaned back in my chair made it appear as if those words hit me with the same physical force as they did emotional.

Allie said that? Really?

Earlier that day, Allie’s class had put on a show in honor of Veterans Day. It’s all she talked about throughout the week, and because I had served in the Army, she expected me to attend. But there was a problem—a doctor’s appointment that overlapped with the program. I winced realizing this. Rescheduling wasn’t an option, yet it was so obviously important to my stepdaughter that I see her singing—singing for me.

I explained the situation to Allie, hoping to set an expectation that would ease her disappointment if I didn’t make it. She said she understood, but still, I couldn’t bring myself to commit one way or the other as to my final choice. “Being there” is critical to my stepdaughter’s emotional well-being; so much so that she has to see a therapist in order to manage the anxiety that’s resulted from too many years of too many people not being there for her.

Well before I entered the picture, Allie’s life had already been a series of uncertain situations lasting just long enough for her to feel safe, only to then disintegrate the moment she did. Today things are different. Allie has stability, and the positive effects of this are a evident in her behavior and attitude. She’s come a long way. Still, despite the best efforts of her mother and I, Allie continues to be let down by the one person she wants a real relationship with—her biological father


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