Dad Bias

My father at his 65th birthday party

This weekend turned out to be busier than I thought it would be. Hence, no flash fiction until tomorrow. And it’s going to be difficult for me. I have to write about a “bad dad”. I have to say my exposure to examples that I can relate to personally is somewhat limited, because I’ve been blessed with pretty fantastic parents.

My father’s birthday fell on the same day as Father’s Day this year. Saturday for his gift I kidnapped him to the movies (my review of said movie goes up tomorrow). Sunday there was a surprise party in his honor. Nobody hid behind furniture or anything; friends just showed up at random throughout the late afternoon bringing food and goodwill, and much to my mother’s relief, everything went off without a hitch. Dad was quite surprised and delighted.

To me, my parents have always been a big part of my life. There was a time when I was so invested in having them favorably disposed towards me I imagined they had certain expectations for my life. The decisions I made as a result of that were in no way, shape, or form their fault, as (a) said expectations didn’t exist, and (b) I was never completely out of control of my actions. It was still something of a revelation to hear my mother and father both say “We just want you to be happy, whatever that means for you.”

I do what I can to imagine other individuals complexly and understand their circumstances, but it’s very difficult for me to comprehend a parent who does not have this attitude towards their child. I cannot claim to have any great shakes at being a father myself. I constantly ask myself “Is this enough? What more can I do? What more should I do?”

I compare myself to my father in these terms and I feel myself coming up woefully short. I have to remind myself that my circumstances are not his, my life is not his, and the future is more important than the past. I can’t undo the mistakes I’ve made; all I can do is learn what I can and do my best not to make new ones.

Anyway, the point is, I don’t want my bad dad story to be autobiographical or too heavy-handed. That’s the writerly challenge in front of me now.

That, and actually finishing Cold Streets sometime this year.


  1. Oh, Josh, you aren’t supposed to make your mother cry! What a beautifully written tribute to your father who is and always has been a great dad to you and your sisters. Never forget how proud we are of you and the man that you have become. You have our love always.

  2. Josh, you are a terrific son and father. Mom and I are very proud of you, and the way you have grown into a caring, thoughtful, loving young man. Given your circumstances, I don’t know if I could have been the faithful father that you are to your son. Love, Dad

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