Leon Barretto’s “open letter” to his estranged father, Dennis Padilla, is a warning to all fathers that disregard and neglect their children that negligent dads don’t get to cry foul if their children don’t greet them a Happy Father’s Day.
As someone who, like Leon and his siblings, has a difficult relationship with their father, I don’t just understand them, I feel for them. To be honest, I might have shed a tear or two after reading Leon’s poignantly- and eloquently-written letter, expressing his frustration and disappointment over their father’s overly-dramatic social media stunt to gain sympathy from the public.
“Papa, why does it seem like you enjoy hurting your kids in public? Why do you keep posting cryptic posts about us and allow people to bash us on your own instagram page? Do you think it does not pain all of us to feel protected by their own father?” Leon said, with an obvious tone of exasperation.
The thing is, and here I am speaking with some experience of my own, they tend to do this borderline-narcissistic behavior to feed their own ego and make themselves feel good, nevermind who gets hurt in the process – even their own flesh and blood.
They want full credit for being our sperm donors, but when they hold them accountable for us, they will either cry foul, or go missing-in-action again. It’s an endless cycle that, sooner or later, one will just realize that there’s no point in reaching out to someone who is never interested in building the painstaking work of a child/children-father relationship but wants the full glory of it.
And boy, oh boy, did Dennis miscalculate and misjudged his overreach, it backfired on him hard. But of course, true to his form, he published another post of him and Leon in a photo, and penned a non-apology apology. He also said: “Just want to know what false narrative I said in public? [I’ve] been reaching out to all of you for 15 years in private.”
But that’s not for Leon and his sisters to say, but for Dennis to figure out where he did go wrong and why, after all these years, his attempts have been unsuccessful. Children have feelings too, and in a family break up, they’re the ones being torn apart and stretched too thin between two opposing forces.
But of course, our relationship with our parents, even if they’re already separated, doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game: we all can love both of our parents equally. But relationships aren’t built overnight; it has to be worked out, and both sides must be willing to work on it. Disagreements are inevitable, but if the foundation is mutual respect and love, I don’t see why it will not flourish over time.
And if fathers, and in some cases mothers, want to be recognized on special days dedicated to being a parent, they have to understand that bringing life into this world is easy, but raising children to be whatever, and whoever they want to be, is what counts.
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