Dear Dad, by Jennifer Flaten

Dear Dad,

I am writing this letter to thank you for all that you did for me. Now I know you may be a little confused about why I would want to thank you, considering what little time we spent together.

Well, that is exactly what I want to thank you for. As a deadbeat dad who would randomly pop into my life, you truly taught me to expect the unexpected.

Although, it happened so infrequently, I actually thought it was neat to have you show up and shower me with a huge amount of gifts-most of them extravagant to make up for all the birthdays, Christmases and report cards that came in between these visits. Kids are so easily impressed!

I will never forget the visit that brought me the Atari, the bicycle and the huge amount of clothes! Of course, after that I don’t think I saw you again for three years… but still it was cool.

I never stopped hoping that you would show up to visit me even if you didn’t bring gifts. After awhile I figured out that if I heard from you, it meant that you had a new girlfriend, one who liked kids. Somehow, she found out you had a child and she wanted to connect. I bet she thought if she could meet me, we could work together to make you a better more stable person.

I want to thank you for teaching me empathy for these poor women, who tried so hard to be a part of your life and to make you be a part of mine.

Unfortunately, it never worked out; you always broke up with them. At first, I was pretty disappointed to lose these women from my life, but I must admit it made me resilient.

I also wanted to thank you for giving me hope. I frequently went to bed dreaming about the Disney vacation you promised me, or how we would spend a whole week together. Really, I think I learned to handle disappointment quite well thanks to you.

It is important that you understand how much you made me appreciate my step dad. He has always been there, even when I didn’t want him to be there. In fact, he has really grown into the role of dad and is now a proud grandpa.

From you I gained a deep appreciation for all the dads that remain an important part of the children’s lives even if their relationship with the mother fails. It is so easy to disappear from a child’s life as you did; I applaud all the men who do not take the easy way out.

Speaking of dads… I found a wonderful man. I think you may remember him; you met him briefly at our wedding 13 years ago. I agonized for weeks about inviting you to my wedding. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I kept worrying ‘would you come, would you behave, how would you treat my mom and me‘. All that worry for nothing. As I remember it, you stopped by for about two minutes and then disappeared.

So much for a joyful reunion. I am sorry I wasted so much time worrying about it.

Anyway, my husband and I have three wonderful children, two of which are twins! Can you believe it? Too bad, you never got to see them. They are just beautiful.

My husband is a terrific father.  I admit, sometimes I get jealous of the loving, close relationship that my children have and are going to have with their dad.

Yet, I have no regrets about not having you in my life. According, to my mom and my grandmother, you drank and had a horrible temper. You belittled my mom and did some terrible things (you know what they are).

Anyway, I think things would have turned out differently and quite badly if you had been in my life.

Between my mom, my step dad and my grandparents I had people who loved me all the time, not when it is convenient for them.

I know you may find it hard to believe but without you, I have had a pretty great life. I am not sorry you weren’t part of it.

Again, I thank you,

Your Daughter


Jennifer is a freelance writer; she lives in Wisconsin with her husband, twin daughters, and son.

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4 Responses to “Dear Dad, by Jennifer Flaten”

  1. It is inspiring to see how you have found the silver lining, even in such a devastating experience. Thank you for sharing your story, it truly puts into perspective the things we should cherish and those we shouldn’t waste our energy on.

  2. Linda St.Cyr says:

    I love the perspective of this letter and agree with Lindsay.

  3. Angel says:

    Wonderful letter. We always have to learn from what life gives us.

  4. Amy says:

    It is sad how some absent fathers are like that. I am glad that the cycle ended with you and that your children have a good dad.

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