Home All Posts Thinking Of The Dad I Never Had & What ‘Dad’ Means To My Son

Thinking Of The Dad I Never Had & What ‘Dad’ Means To My Son

by theparentingjungle

I have a father, obviously, it is a biological must for procreation. (Unless my mother is some kind of reproduction wizard, or is a biblical dungarees wearing miracle.) My dad and I don’t talk, are strangers in the street, created no sepia toned memories and he has never had the joy of seeing my son’s crooked smile.


My parents separated when I was a baby, my mum left the house with me and little else. We went back to my maternal family and he faded from my life swiftly after it had begun.

I grew up in Powys amongst grass and sky, spending most of my time on a farm on a hill.  I am ever grateful for having the childhood of a country girl. Everything was outside, everyone was your friend or your family, and everywhere had a sense of security (except for electric fences, deep ponds and standing behind granddad’s horses.) As a child I did not know different and this green stage of childhood was unappreciated. As a teen I, of course, hated all of these things, but as a woman looking back across the years, I can only be grateful and glad.

What does ‘family’ mean to you?

When I was younger I don’t recall any apparent pangs of ‘missing out’. Family was me, my mum and when I was six, my little brother (who is now six-foot-huge). No memories linger of the time where his dad was with us, even when I scrunch my eyes and urge my brain to try. I learnt that father’s leave and that my mother could do everything.

There is no anger left, time has taught me that parenthood is hard.


My grandfather was the only constant male presence in our lives. Happy hours were spent with him in the barns. He built me a tool bench and I stole his best hammer. I would stumble after him bringing in the sheep, demand piggybacks and follow him everywhere on a little orange tractor. He is a quiet man, his praise worth more than gold and his disapproval still can bring me to tears.  As he drove wooden fence stakes into the ground I remember thinking he was a giant and the strongest man in the world.

To this day I am still unsure of a father’s role within a family. That sounds silly I know, but I have no normative template of reference.

I met my father when I was six and he flitted in and out of the years, caught on the wind but never constant. From my granddad I learnt what a good man looks like. I may have missed out on having a dad, but I had a grand ‘father’ that took both roles in his muddy booted stride.

Whenever I feel the cold touch of regret, or the sadness I think of him and those feelings are soothed.

Separation again

After my sons birth I tried so hard to grasp the idyllic ‘perfect family unit’ that I thought he needed. Two adults and one child. A father and mother together. I held onto the idea until my hands bled as my relationship with Leo’s dad crumbled after his birth.

Eventually I realised that what a child needs most is happy parents, together or separate.

We work hard to ensure that little boy spends time with his dad wherever possible. Although they don’t live together when I ask him ‘what do you think when I say daddy’, he gives a sweet unassuming smile and just says, ‘my daddy’. He does not doubt that daddy loves him, will be there for him and it is not a breathless, empty description.

Leo also had a ‘stepdad’, a diminutive term for such an generous role. My partner is his Lego building accomplice, they can talk about Transformers all night, and they tease me and bicker with each other. I had no father and Leo has two. If karma exists then I give it a nod.

Leo will learn that dads stay. That they love. I hope one day, if he wants, Leo will be a daddy himself, one that his children deserve.

Family life is not always easy but I learnt from the dad I never knew that it is worth everything.

On father’s day we will send our grandads a lovingly written card. I will call my mum and cook dinner for my partner and present him with a bizarre five-year-old-chosen gift. Leo will spend the day with his dad and no doubt eat too much ice cream.

It’s a day to be thankful.

If you enjoyed this post check out: The reality of separate parents and shared parenting: a Mummy’s feelings on weekends with Daddy.


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Phil Refuelled 18th June 2016 - 9:54 pm

This post made me think hard, but I enjoyed it. I’m fortunate enough to still have my dad in his old age, and we are able to enjoy each other’s company, even though a lot of upheaval has happened in our lives.

theparentingjungle 21st June 2016 - 11:16 am

Thank you for the lovely comment, i am glad you enjoyed it, I always worry when writing about emotive topics…xx

Jane Taylor 12th June 2016 - 6:45 pm

What a poignant post and heartfelt post. I really found it moving and beautifully written. Thank you for sharing it with us #FortheloveofBlog

theparentingjungle 14th June 2016 - 8:50 am

Thank you for commenting my lovely I always worry that you are sharing to much emotionally and that other people will find it an uncomfortable read but people are so kind and supportive x

Baby Anon 12th June 2016 - 6:13 am

What a very eloquent post about your family relationships. Excuse the terribly overused cliché but anyone can be a father, it takes a lot to be a dad. Sounds like your granddad has been a fantastic role model in your life, and your little boy has a great stepdad x

theparentingjungle 14th June 2016 - 8:47 am

I love that terribly overused cliché…it makes me smile! It has not always been easy but I am so grateful for what we both have x

Ali Duke 11th June 2016 - 12:31 pm

It really doesn’t sound like you have missed out at all, you had a great family that were there for you and that is great. It is very good when parents are not together, but can still have a good relationship for the childs sake, makes things so much better.

theparentingjungle 13th June 2016 - 11:55 am

Thank you that is such a kind comment, I think your brain always wonders but then you can miss not being grateful for what you have had 🙂 x

MotherofTeenagers 11th June 2016 - 11:25 am

Such an emotive post. I separated from my eldest’s father when he was 3. I am lucky that we have a great relationship and he spends lots of time with his son. I have remarried and now there is the step father to consider too. This role is often undervalued and I always remind my son to make sure he considers his step father’s contribution too as effectively he has brought him up since he was 5. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to make all these relationships work together. You sound like you are doing a brilliant job. #fortheloveofblog

theparentingjungle 13th June 2016 - 11:38 am

Thank you, it is not always easy but you just try your best! Fathers days are always a bit hectic because I think my partner does not get his true dues in that my little one just calls his dad dad…there is not really a man who treats you just like your dad but you call by his name day! x

Kate Orson 11th June 2016 - 10:44 am

This is such a moving post. Your childhood sounds lovely. I totally agree that the most important thing is for parents to be happy whether together or separate. Your son is a lucky boy!

theparentingjungle 13th June 2016 - 11:32 am

Ah thank you that is so kind, I am always so nervous I am kind of emotionally over-sharing and that people will be cringey when they read it so I am so grateful for your comment xx

A mum track mind 11th June 2016 - 10:39 am

Family dynamics are so complicated aren’t they? I split with Zak’s Dad when he was young and he has slowly drifted off into the sunset with his new family ever since. Zak is bereft but he too sees that Mothers can do it all. I assume this works both ways, fathers can do it all too in the absence of the mother. His step-father plays a crucial part in his life these days and it’s a relief to see a strong male presence. Its proof that biological deposits do not a Father make. Lovely post Jade, you write so beautifully! Thanks for hosting with me on #fortheloveofBLOG X

theparentingjungle 13th June 2016 - 11:32 am

Definitely complicated! I love that Zak has such an amazing mummy 😉 and relationship with him step-dad. its really reassuring hearing how blended families work so well and think I will lend up similar to you in having an older child then a little one later..I’m very flattered, I think I just waffle with terrible grammar! xx

mumworkrepeat 11th June 2016 - 6:16 am

It was lovely to read your post and see things from the other side and how you felt growing up without your Dad around. I’m raising my son on my own and his Dad doesn’t see him at all. I’m worried about how this will affect him growing up and reading your post has put my mind to rest slightly. It sounds like you have a lovely family, everyone happy and secure in the relationships they play to everyone. Well done you and hey Granddads rock! x #fortheloveofBLOG

theparentingjungle 13th June 2016 - 10:50 am

I think we as parents worry about everything so much, there are so many different types of family unit out there 🙂 Its not always been easy there have been times when I selfishly and quietly thought to myself I would prefer it if his dad was not involved but we have pushed through and my little one is happy. I think your little one will have everything he needs in such a considerate and loving mummy, that is something very special xx

twotinyhands 30th May 2016 - 10:13 pm

It’s not often I can’t think of how to reply to a blog. You’ve got me stumped and warrents more than, such a lovely post! My father has been and is still a prescence in my life. There has been times when I’ve had indifference though, but he’s my dad at the end of the day. #pocolo

Merlinda Little (Glimmer of Hope) 27th May 2016 - 4:53 pm

I wonderful read! This had made me think of my son and how he doesnt have a grandfather here. My father is far from here. I am from the Philippines and he is there. The father’s Dad died so many years ago and I just wish that there would be someone who be fill in the Grandfather shoes!

I love reading this post as its honest. We are in that stage where my husband and I are going on seoparate ways and we are still trying to work things out. I have to admit that it is affecting my son but I agree that what he needs are parents not neccesarily together.


theparentingjungle 28th May 2016 - 8:05 pm

Thank you for such a lovely post, I am sorry your family is so far away. It is difficult separating but you need to do what is best for you, children are really resilient and will get through. I wish you lots of happiness and hope it goes smoothly xx

ljdove23 27th May 2016 - 4:00 pm

This is such a beautiful post. I felt so happy and yet so sad, but you just seem to have had such a lovely upbringing and your relationship with your Grandad sounds so lovely. I think families these days come in so many different forms, I am divorced and my eldest now has a Stepdad, a Stepmum, new siblings here, there and everywhere! As someone said above, you just do the best for your children, which clearly you do. #PoCoLo

An imperfect mum (Catie) 25th May 2016 - 5:46 pm

Oh Jade this made me feel happy-sad. I just love how content you are with your life and your upbringing with your grandad sounds so amazing! You are a lucky lady to have had such a positive male influence. Loved this, so well written, you captured me from the first words…

theparentingjungle 26th May 2016 - 11:03 am

Happy-sad, I love that description 🙂 lovely to have you over here and thank you for reading lovely lady xx

occupation:(m)other 24th May 2016 - 6:52 pm

This is a beautiful and interesting post about the many ways fathers can be in our lives (and out of them). Thank you for sharing your experiences and for reminding me that’s Father’s Day soon. Xx #triballove

theparentingjungle 25th May 2016 - 11:10 am

Haha I love you a little bit…thank you for reminding me it is fathers day soon…chortle…xx

islandliving365 24th May 2016 - 2:58 pm

Any words I write now are going to be woefully inadequate after such a wonderful post. A really considered and heartfelt post that very nearly had me in tears. Leo is a very lucky boy to have not only very two caring Dads but also an amazing mum!! :- )x

theparentingjungle 25th May 2016 - 11:10 am

No words you could write would be woefully inadequate my lovely! xx

Sarah 24th May 2016 - 2:46 pm

I really loved this Jade. I also had a very absent father who rarely came around. You made me tear up. I think going through that experience as a child is really what made me look for a partner I knew wouldnt do the same thing. And really appreciate how great of a dad my husband is. Thanks for sharing! #TribalLove

theparentingjungle 25th May 2016 - 11:09 am

Your welcome my lovely…must endeavour to make people laugh next post rather than cry..or advise chocolate after eating..xx

The Mum Project 24th May 2016 - 12:45 pm

What a beautifully written post. Karma really does exist, it sounds like Leo has two wonderful Fathers. I had a Dad that was in and out of my life as well, but as you’ve said we learn from their absence and other father figures take their place. Your Grandfather sounds like an amazing Dad, teaching cup stacking is serious business. : ) For me, my father figure was my best friends Dad. Luckily he was an excellent replacement! Thanks for sharing your story.

The Adventures of Beta Mummy 24th May 2016 - 12:05 pm

I am a bit of an emotional wreck at the moment and this didn’t help!! Gorgeous post, so lovely to hear what an amazing relationship you have with your Grandad.
I am very lucky to have a good relationship with my Dad, and because of that I’m determined to do everything I can to facilitate my boys’ relationship with their dad…it’s not always easy, but he is a good dad to them and hopefully will continue to be.
Your little Leo is a lucky boy to have a such a loving family around him 🙂 xxx

theparentingjungle 24th May 2016 - 12:28 pm

oh…hugs!! It is a hard old time when you have separated, you have to shelf your feelings and focus on the kids and that is hard. You are an epic mummy to and will do them proud x

Ohlucy 24th May 2016 - 8:33 am

Again, this is something of yours that has deeply resonated with me.

My mom left my dad when I was 2 and though he was in mine and my sisters life for a couple of years, he soon became distant, remarried and we haven’t seen him properly for 12 years.

We were the three musketeers, an my mother showed us more love than we would ever need – actually to the extent that I would pretend to be a single mummy when playing with my dolls and told everyone that that was what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Now, it turns out, I am exactly what 7yr old me wanted, and am a single parent and no man to be seen. At this point I am so very thankful for my mom, who is now divorced for a second time, still showing us so much love that both me and my daughter will hopefully never know what it’s like to feel left behind.

She will be getting a Father’s Day card this year.

Lu xx


theparentingjungle 24th May 2016 - 8:37 am

Digital cuddle, I think being the daughter of a single parent is what gave me the courage to be a single parent for the years I did, and I did love the independence, the time it was just me and my son. I am very lucky to have found a loving partner but I know I am sometimes stubborn and a pain because I still struggle to hand over responsibility, ask for help I just happily stomp on! Your little one is lucky to have you xxx

min1980 24th May 2016 - 6:34 am

Another beautiful post Jade. This one resonated with me as a single mum. I am the opposite in a way, as I grew up with both my parents, so I had a dad in my life and knew no different. My dad and I had a great relationship, but sadly my son will never know his grandad as he passed away in 2009. Now I have Piglet, he will never know having a dad, so I worry that I won’t be able to fully understand how that is for him. He does have male role models as I have two brothers, so hopefully he will grow up knowing what a good man looks like. #triballove

theparentingjungle 24th May 2016 - 8:00 am

I started to read your reply on the way to work and got a bit emotional, I am so sorry you lost your dad. Piglet has an extraordinary mother and I know from my own Amazonian type mum that that is a very special thing and you will have such an amazing close relationship..xx

babiesbiscuitsandbooze 23rd May 2016 - 10:37 pm

Oh what a gorgeous, gorgeous post. I love the picture of mini Jade, I think Leo looks a lot like you! Your mum and grandfather both sound incredible. I am glad Leo has two wonderful father relationships. I think families come in all shapes, sizes and dynamics and whether that’s two mums, a mum and a grandad or a mum and dad (and everything in between) they are all beautiful and special and can give children all they need. I am lucky to have an amazing dad and that my son has such an incredible dad, too. Ahhh what a lovely bedtime read this was.

agentspitback 23rd May 2016 - 10:28 pm

Beautiful post! I felt quite emotional reading this and at what you must have gone through and to know where you are today. How wonderful that Leo has so many people who love him in his life. It is indeed a day to be thankful for all the men, and not just biological fathers but men who have played such a huge part in raising our children, and just loving them.

justsayingmum 23rd May 2016 - 8:08 pm

Jade this is truly beautiful. You write from the heart and your words are real. Your Grandad sounds amazing and your want for Leo’s Stepdad to be appreciated so much more than what the name denotes – your words ensure that your readers know he is incredible – you are lucky to have found each other – you really are #triballove xx

theparentingjungle 24th May 2016 - 6:38 am

I always love how much love you put into your comments, they never fail to make me smile. Thank you so much xx

justsayingmum 24th May 2016 - 6:44 am

Aww welcome gorgeous x

Life with monster child 23rd May 2016 - 7:52 pm

Beautiful and honestly written, it brought a tear to my eye!
Grandads are hero’s, if mine was here he’d be 96, I know he’d be my monsters hero too!
And a big yay for stepdads too – mine is a good one.

theparentingjungle 24th May 2016 - 6:37 am

Thank you lovely I hope it was a good tear, I am very lucky to have my granddad still around, I wish I could have him forever. Hehe I think your and my monsters would have a fun time time together! x

Rachyroo 23rd May 2016 - 7:23 pm

This blog made me feel slightly teary! So lovely to hear you talking about what an amazing man your grandad is! And for sharing your experience! Much love
Rachyroo xxx

theparentingjungle 24th May 2016 - 6:34 am

Thank you for such a beautiful comment, it was not the easiest post and I worry that people don’t want to read about you being soppy..but it was important to me and perhaps others will feel the same…:) xx

mumzilla 23rd May 2016 - 7:21 pm

I love this. I kind of had a similar situation – a Dad who was there, but was never actually *there* if that makes any sense. I honestly think I would have been better without one sometimes. #tribe xxx

theparentingjungle 24th May 2016 - 6:33 am

I really have a heartpang for you, I think if they were not there you could still have a positive imagination about what they could be, reality is often a hard thing…but hey glass toast to the two strong women we are xx

bridiebythesea 23rd May 2016 - 6:57 pm

This is beautiful Jade. It must be very hard for you, but hats off for embracing that Leo has a relationship with his Dad. I am a stepmum, and the relationship my other half has with his son is so important. He often says to me how lucky my stepson is to have 3 people who love him so much. You’re a wonderful mum and Leo is a lucky boy 🙂 xxx #triballove

theparentingjungle 24th May 2016 - 6:30 am

I bet you are the best stepmum, families are complex and diverse and I think you just try and do what is best for your kids, and you don’t always do that straight away, parenting is learning and its a long but amazing lesson. Thanks for such a wonderful comment x

bridiebythesea 24th May 2016 - 1:31 pm

Thank you, you are definitely right – we’re all trying to do what’s best for the kids and we muddle through to do the best we can 🙂 xx


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