So the fact is I didn’t deal with it well when I first found out what has been happening to Alice. The children saw me cry and they never see me cry – I’m their Dad, right? I’m supposed to be strong. Then I just wanted to kill him, kill that scummy little weasel who thought he could hurt my little girl.
My wife had to sit me down and give me a really good talking to. We fell out about it a lot actually, thought it was the end of our marriage. But she got through to me in the end, like she always does. Alice needed me to be strong, not as in pounding his head in, but by showing her that I’m one of the good guys. So I came down off my high horse.
My advice to other Dads would be:
- Let your child know that you love them and are not ashamed of them. They may not give much back to begin with but keep at it – never give up
- Don’t go off at the deep end – it helps nobody. Find a way to let your anger out so that it doesn’t damage your whole family
- Don’t neglect your whole family. Alice bore the brunt of the whole sorry experience but it was hard on us all. Remember that next time you have a row with your wife
- Don’t forget to make time for other siblings. Make sure you are honest about what is happening and give them some time to talk about how it affects them. They won’t always have a rational response to what is happening but they need you to understand it from their perspective too
- Let the people around you know. It’s not easy for us guys to open up at the best of times, but the people around you can’t begin to help or understand if you don’t give them a heads up. Talk to work, relatives and maybe even your mates about what has happened so they can support you.
And maybe the biggest thing I would take from this is to take help. I had a fairly traditional view on it all and wanted to keep it all under covers. You only go to social services if you’ve failed as a parent, right? It turns out I was wrong – there’s loads of organisations out there that can help.