A South African dad opened up about his experience with jealousy as a parent in a touching Facebook post.
Terence Mentor of Cape Town has two sons, 3-year-old Liam and 2-year-old Eli. On Monday, he shared a photo of himself with Eli on Facebook, along with an honest caption about their relationship.
Mentor explained that his youngest son is “totally his mother’s child.”
“I honestly found their immediate and intense connection beautiful, but even more honestly... it made me jealous,” he wrote. “It is quite a thing to be a dad who can’t comfort his child, who is constantly told ‘No, I go to Mommy,’ who never seems to have a real, relational moment with his own son.”
He added, “I know, I know. It’s silly and childish, but the jealousy was real and disheartening.”
Over the last few months, however, Eli started warming up to his dad more. One night, he even left the comfort of sleeping on his mother’s chest to go cuddle with Mentor.
“This child, who would cry when I so much as looked his way, came to me for his comfort and calm. Not going to lie...I got a little teary eyed,” the dad wrote.
“Is there a lesson here? Yeah ― being a dad is hard, but every bit of emotional and physically [sic] energy that you use can be repaid to you in an instant,” he added. “So maybe you are a parent going through what I have been going through. Keep going. Keep pushing. It will be worth it.”
Mentor told HuffPost he opened up about his struggle to connect with his son in order to let other dads in his situation know that it’s OK and to encourage them to keep trying.
“I think it was an eye opener for a lot of moms, actually,” he said. “Being the only parent your child trusts is tough, but not being able to comfort your child or connect with him over a long period is also distressing.”
Although being an engaged parent is challenging at times, Mentor added that it’s so worth it, even if it doesn’t always feel as intuitive for fathers.
“I really hope that my post will encourage dads to talk more, and internalize less,” he said. “We seem to be very good at that, but if we want our children to be emotionally healthy adults, we need to start talking!”