Is “Super-Dad” Dead?

I’m a tremendous admirer of Cyndi Lauper.

Strange way to begin this piece, I know, but if you’re willing to travel a bit with me, all will become clear I promise. To clarify, I admire one specific Lauper song, Time After Time. It is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded, of any genre.

If you’re lost you can look and you will find me

Time after time

If you fall I will catch you, I will be waiting

Time after time

It may not have been Cyndi’s intention, but to me those lyrics embody what it means to be a parent. As creators of little humans (who we always see as little regardless of how big they get) we feel a responsibility to protect and shield them from any all pressures/dangers they may face.

Growing up, I always believed in the concept of “Super-Dad”, the ultimate personalized hero, who was ever on guard and ready to smite monsters in closets or school hallways, wipe bloody noses and provide a guiding light through the seemingly-endless darkness. (Obviously I watched a lot of sitcoms in the Seventies.)

My own father was not “Super-Dad”, to say the least.

He was the monster in my life.

So naturally, becoming a father took on a deeper responsibility to me. I was determined to stray from the path laid out for me and be the best damn dad I could be. Of course, being me means I’ve failed more than succeeded (I’m happy to report that you can drop a child several times and she’ll still become an Honors student) but I keep swinging. My daughter and I have what I consider to be a healthy, open friendship rather than the traditional parent/child relationship.

But I’ve come to realize I can’t be a Super-Dad. I don’t know if anyone can anymore. heck, I don’t even know if anyone ever was.

Has anyone else noticed just how much angst modern teens are swimming in these days? When I was a teen I certainly wasn’t concerned with my future. Not unless it involved putting my hands on a pair of breasts, that is.

Today though, kids are graduating high school with the weight of the world already on their shoulders. And if they haven’t mapped out a life plan for themselves that will ensure success? Well then, look out, because things are going to get stormy…

I’m not attempting to make light of a serious situation, far from it. Actually, I’ve seen far too much teenage angst to ever be able to mock it ever again. At this point it is important to note that while my daughter’s privacy is paramount to me, I can’t help but feel compelled to share my experiences as a father to a teen who is struggling to establish her own identity.

All my daughter wants from life is to be a writer like her old man. But a successful one. The fact that she hasn’t achieved that dream yet, at eighteen, sometimes eats away at her. Literally. As her father I feel helpless watching her anxiety manifest itself in physical form. I often feel myself suffering internally as a result of my own psychological anguish.

My daughter is an Honors student. She’s a ridiculously-talented writer. She has secured gainful employment entirely on her own and excels at her job. The kid lives at home and has two parents who are not divorced or crazy (most of her friends cannot make the same claim) and who dote on her as parents should.

But my child feels lost. And I know she’s far from alone.

And that’s as far as I’ll delve into her life. I know it’s not my job to embarrass/scar my child but rather to lift her up.

And so that’s what I’m off to do. Excuse me while I try to hug the kid and take her to a movie, won’t you?

See you in the lobby, kids…

geek_insider_supermanspecialeditionIt doesn’t take super-hearing to be a good parent, people…

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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37 Responses to Is “Super-Dad” Dead?

  1. Nice post Robert. Any guy can be a father, but it takes a Special Guy to be a Dad.

    My Dad wasn’t perfect, but he was there for me when I needed him…. to help with my homework, play cribbage, pass me the tissues when my latest boyfriend dumped me, hold my bike when I tried to learn to ride it, and a million other things.

    I miss him so much, but reckon he’s ‘up there’ having a chuckle or two when things don’t quite work out, and I know he was there with me through this cancer thing.

  2. Purpleanais says:

    Aw, this managed to make me laugh and warm my heart at the same time. She’ll be okay, how could she not? She has loving and supporting parents and it might not be everything but it’s a hell of a lot. I should know, I never had that and I still turned out alright…mostly 😉

  3. Theresa says:

    Hook! The mere fact that you are as “obsessed” with the welfare of your daughter is a testament to the kind of man/father/husband you are! You’re a good man, Hook! Both your wife and your daughter should be aware, and proud, to have you in their lives. You just keep doing what you’re doing! You will guide her, as only you know how, because Hook, one day, she’ll look to you as a mentor, if she hasn’t already, and your advice will be the rock that she stands on! (I don’t write very well, but I hope you get the gist).

  4. valleygirl96 says:

    This is so true! I struggle parenting my own teenage daughter who seems to be going through a lot of the same angst as yours. I never understood the “this hurts me more than it hurts you” comment I used to get from my parents (of course, usually those were spankings, but I’m using a little latitude here), but now that I AM a parent, I totally get it. It’s so much harder watching my own kids struggle, hurt, and muddle through life than it is going through it myself. But, I remind myself that it’s all that struggling and muddling that turned me into a relatively successful, semi-normal, self-sufficient adult, so in the end – it’s gonna be okay.

    Hang in there. Your daughter is lucky to have a dad like you. And I’d bet that she thinks you’re as pretty close to a super-dad as she can get!

    (And that reminds me, you’ll get a kick out of this. Our 3 year old regularly calls her father “super da-da.” It’s a little nauseating to me, but he actively encourages it. I have a feeling you would high five him.)

  5. I have raised two daughters. The first is 44 and the second is 27. The only concept that I adopted with them was the idea that they could count on me no matter the problem or concern. No lectures, no condemnation, no projection of my own failures. They are now their own person and both happy and successful against their own criteria. (Trust me, anyone would agree with them.)

    My dad died when I was ten. I longed to have a father and came to realize the thing I missed most was being told I was loved and having guidance to make certain I was doing the right thing. So, I had to make my own way like you have and decided that the best I could give my children was being there and telling them how much I loved them and give them the guidance so they knew they were doing the right thing. I think that is all you can do.

    I feel your concern.

  6. Doug in Oakland says:

    I’m not a parent, but I’ve always loved that song.

  7. Growing up these days is hard. I think far harder than it was when I grew up. Then again, maybe I forgot all the angst. Hugs to you both. (This may be news to you but her Dad is slightly crazy…but in a good way.)

  8. davidprosser says:

    You have the best relationship a parent can have with a child Robert.

    Isn’t it great when they know they can talk to you and you find they actually want to? My little girl is almost 40 now and it’s still the same as it was. I hope your little girl achieves her ambition, it’s wonderful when you have your first book published and a copy in your hands.


  9. Mark Myers says:

    What a great and transparent post. Thank you. It sounds as though you are Superman or close. Much better than a monster. I hate that she feels like a failure. People (not just kids) have the get rich quick, and lose 50 pounds in 2 weeks mentality drilled into them. It just isn’t so. She just needs to pound out words now and gain experience. Hundreds of thousands of words. The rest will come.

    If she hasn’t read Stephen King’s writing book, here is a good summary.

  10. Super Dad is certainly not dead. It’s a pretty decent Disney movie from the ’70s, for one thing! And you, Robert, you most definitely embody that Super Dad spirit. Well, your daughter is quite lucky to have you for a father.

    Let me share with you that I too have a daughter around the same age. As for the ambition of being a writer, one good thing to keep in mind is a sense of humor and patience and a lot of trial and error. There’s the advice that Ray Bradbury loved to give to young writers: Set up as a goal to write one short story per week for a year. At the end of that year, you will be a better writer for it! Reading is paramount. But nothing to get crazy about, just find your way to one book and then another that knocks your socks off!

    I would suggest one title and blew the mind of so many young people in the Sixties: “More Than Human,” by Theodore Sturgeon. Have your daughter give that a try. Another great one to light a fire is “The Catcher in the Rye,” which may seem obvious to suggest but not to be taken for granted and overlooked. So many more!

  11. umashankar says:

    That is strange, Hook. Why I am saying that is I also liked that song by Cyndi Lauper, it was perhaps the best song from that album, a personal choice one would say. And it reminds me of my younger days. Again, a great song or a poem has this power to mean something different to each of us. This is a touching post, the kind I am not used to reading at your blog here. But I can tell you, sir, you are one great Dad!

  12. I’m certain you are HER “Super-Dad” and it sounds like you do a lot of things right Robert. I commend you on having an open friendship with your daughter, that is awesome! just remember you are her DAD not her friend when it comes to the some of the important stuff 😉 Sometimes it is hard to make that differentiation. I know because I have the same problem with my daughter. We have a great relationship (most of the time) and she knows she can come to me and tell me anything or ask me about anything and I will not chastise her or judge her. It is difficult to keep a straight face sometimes but I am glad she will ask me first before calling someone else. Rock on my friend!~

  13. Robert, I so loved this one. So many of us are being the parent that we didn’t have. And as much as I feel your father still messing a bit with your truth (any time you doubt yourself or put yourself down), you know you’re a Super-Dad. Well done. And you’ve just inspired me for a post. Thank you!

  14. Austin says:

    Dads just wanna have fun. 🙂 Lovely post, my friend…

  15. It would seem that there is more pressure now than years ago. I met a young lady just the other day who had very significant experiences in her life already. I can’t share them here, but let’s just say that they were life altering. — All that to say, the fact that you are taking your daughter to a movie and maybe hugging her occasionally (in a not embarrassing way of course) is huge! Well done. My daughter is 5 but she will be there soon enough.

  16. curvyroads says:

    Robert I think it is far different to be a kid these days than it was for us…your daughter sounds awesome and she’s lucky to have you as her Dad. On the good days and especially on the not-so-good days. Hugs!

  17. Louise says:

    I don’t know about the changing pressure – I remember feeling loads of pressure when I came out of high school to already know what I wanted to be (I’m now almost 40).

    Now? While my girls are too young for this stage, I mentor university students who feel the same anxiety coming out from their undergrads. Some are really solid on where they are going. Others aren’t. Both are okay. I changed direction a few times on my journey from end of high school to destination – and my parents and some key mentors were key in helping me make and be comfortable with the decisions that got me there.

    It sounds like you are helping your daughter do that too. And that you are listening and giving her space to figure it out. Which sounds pretty Super Dad to me. All the best to both of you!

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