It wasn’t that I had a bad parent, I just had a young parent. Actually both my parents are young. My mom was only a junior in high school when she had me and she, herself, grew up in a horrible home life setting. Her father was absent and her mom was mentally absent. She learned how to raise herself and get things she needed on her own.
So, naturally when she became a mom at 16 it was her instinct to give me everything she never had. Even though life was financially difficult and she often worked two jobs while also attending college (not to mention finishing high school and graduating with her class) she was barely able to give us what we needed nevermind the things we wanted.
My father never grew up after I was born. He worked by day and partied by night and it left my mom exhausted. While she tried her best to keep our family together so I didn’t grow up in the broken home she did she finally realized that a troubled home was just as bad as a broken one and left my father.
As a child I of course blamed her. I blamed her because she was fair and refused to speak poorly of my father — he, however, played by different rules. He blamed her and made sure I knew it. Problem was my dad was an alcoholic.
My mom fought hard through all my father’s downfalls to make sure he was always in my life. No matter what error or bad judgement call he made — she made it okay for him to come back in my life. Even when I became older and was able to be more vocal for myself and wanted nothing to do with him she would remind me that he was the only father that I had and that it was important that I keep him in my life.
This story does have a happy ending. It took a horrible fight that almost ended everything but I’m happy to say my father is 11 years sober. Not by our choice but by his. Today he is involved and supportive. My kids will never know the man that I knew, the man that was under the influence.
So, I wonder: Is it more important to have a parent in the picture even if that parent isn’t a good role model or is it better that they just be absent? My mom says if she did it all over again she would have stopped helping him come back in my life but now as an adult I’m so happy that he’s here.
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Million Moms Challenge. The opinions and text are all mine. Contest runs November 14 to December 18, 2011. A random winner will be announced by December 20, 2011.