Challenges with father taught many lessons

Published 3:47 pm Saturday, June 20, 2015

Dear Leah,

This Sunday is Father’s Day. When I was a child, and my parents were together, my Dad was scary. There were days when he was loving and fun. Other days he was terrifying, screaming and cursing at my mom. There were times he hit and kicked her. It was confusing for me growing up, because I really loved my dad, but I was afraid of him, too. When I was in kindergarten, my dad went to prison.

I remember visiting my grandparents (his parents) and my dad would call from prison. He would tell me my mom put him in prison. It was my mom’s fault he was there, and it my mom’s fault we couldn’t live together as a family like we so dearly wanted to. Soon, I became very angry with my mom.

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How could she do this to the Daddy I loved so much? I was angry, but I was also confused. I was confused because I remember my mom crying. I remember the fear and the pain. I remember not being able to be with my mom because she was in the hospital with broken bones caused by my dad.

Thankfully, my mom is very smart. We were out of danger, Dad was locked away where he couldn’t hurt her and she could see me clearly. She saw that I was being manipulated by my dad. I didn’t see my grandma and grandpa again after that.

My mom is very resourceful. She found help for me, in the form of a very talented play therapist. The work we did together built my confidence. It was nice to be in an environment where I could speak about my experiences without the worry of hurting Mom’s feelings or making Dad angry.

I learned tools to help me cope not only with the violence I witnessed, but also cope with the shame of having a parent in prison. My mom worked with my school and made it OK to talk about all of the things I was dealing with openly. She said to hide it would only hurt more.

Eventually, Mom and I moved far away from Dad. I didn’t understand it at first, I was so young. But as I grew into a young adult I saw my mom grow. She transformed into the woman she was meant to be — unafraid. Since my dad couldn’t teach me how a man should treat a woman, my mom did. She did it by refusing to be abused. By working hard, making mistakes, trying again and never giving up. Through my mom I learned to love myself first.

It’s been 13 years since I’ve seen my dad. I learned long ago it’s not my fault we never saw or heard from him again.

I really just wanted to share my story with you in the hope some other little girl might see it and realize she’s not alone. Life gets better and we heal. We forgive.

Father’s Day is hard. I still want to draw my dad a picture or make him a card. I probably always will. Instead, I remain thankful for the strong, honest, decent men in my life who have loved me like their own. And as I graduate this month, they will be the ones cheering for me from the stands, along with my loving mom.




Dear Hope,

I cannot thank you enough for sharing your story with us today. You are right, there are so many who can relate and benefit from your experience. Very well said.

— Leah


Leah Albert is a fictitious character. She likes wine and writing. Don’t ask her to be a matchmaker. Do send your questions to Leah at