My family had been described as “picture perfect” by friends and relatives one too many times. You see, my parents were not only lawyers who helped crime victims get justice; they often offered their services to less-fortunate individuals, too. My twin sister and I were in our second year of residency at a hospital, and we both wanted to open a clinic. Best of all, we never had ugly fights with each other because Mom and Dad taught us the value of family.

Despite that, it’s only the occurrence in our household. If you look at our extended family, you would see that we visited my father’s clan more than my mother’s. It’s not that Dad insisted on that – it was Mom’s decision, frankly speaking.

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The reason was that my mother did not approve of a lot of things that Pops (my grandfather) did in life. She was incredibly close to her mother and siblings, but her father was a much different story. Every time Mom had to see or talk to him, it typically felt forced and was very awkward.

In truth, watching their interaction used to confuse me when I was a child. Because of my closeness to Dad, I assumed that all children and fathers had a close relationship. However, the more I got older, the more I realized what could strain people’s relationships: mental health.

Allow me to share a few examples below.

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A Person May Decide To Follow Dad’s Footsteps

My grandfather had always wanted to live an easy life. Whenever he got money, you could only find him in the casino, betting on every game that could double or triple the amount he came in with. Though it was – and still is – too shameful to admit, Pops would even resort to extortion to continue his gambling habits.

Now, some of my uncles thought that their father managed to unlock the quickest way to gain financial success. During get-togethers, they would play poker from dusk until dawn with real money at stake. They also preferred to take part-time jobs alone to ensure that they had free hours to stay at the casino anytime.

Was this mindset effective, though? Did my Pops and uncles become rich? Of course not. Whoever told you that you didn’t need to work hard to earn well was crazy. And if you believe in their words and follow their footsteps, you turn out to be crazier than them.

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Someone May Do Everything To Avoid Taking The Same Path That Their Father Took

If there were folks like my uncles, there were also people like Mom, who tried everything to avoid getting likened to her dad. While Pops was technically the happy-go-lucky type, my mother said she knew the value of hard-earned money from childhood. After all, my grandmother had to pick up the slack and get two jobs when she was young as her father was too busy gambling. Living with such a reality made Mom determined to graduate, have a stable job, and marry a non-gambler.

In truth, my mother succeeded in avoiding the same life path that Pops took. The only significant failure that she could see was her inability to coax my grandfather to change or stop his gambling ways.

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Dad’s Behavior Could Make Kids Resentful For Years

Mom had been going all out to pamper my grandmother for as long as I could remember. She opened a bank account just for Gran and gave her new bags and shoes every month. She also encouraged her to join community groups so that my grandmother could meet new people and enjoy her life.

As for Pops, my mother only gave him gifts during Christmases and birthdays. Its frequency could easily have been the same as Gran’s, but Mom could not forget when my grandfather turned down the expensive shoes that she bought for him. He went as far as saying, “I’d rather receive money than wear those shoes.” And, no, he never apologized for it.

While we all encouraged Mom to forgive and forget, we could not blame her for staying resentful for years. It wasn’t as if Pops made an effort to make it up to her. Thus, he could not ask my mother anymore to fund his gambling habits.

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Final Thoughts

I know how some readers might ask, “Is this fiction? Can a father be THAT awful?”

Well, no, and yes. You should understand that not everyone can be blessed with a doting or responsible father. Some do not bother to know their kids’ favorite toys; others leave before the baby arrives. My mother technically got lucky because Pops was not an absentee father, but gambling had already affected his mental health. As a result, his behavior had various effects on his children’s mindsets.

In case you have similar issues with your father, try to be wise like Mom and don’t follow his footsteps. If you can pull them back on the right track, that’s great! But if your father cannot be redeemed, save yourself from the doom and live well.

How A Father’s Mental Health Shapes One’s Mindset