If You Relate To This, You Probably Have Daddy Issues: JUICE Unpacks Paternal Trauma On Father’s Day

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by JUICE illustrator, Emily Shahira

On this celebratory day where we gather around the dinner table, swallowing down all the familial arguments and putting them aside “because it’s Father’s Day!”, JUICE is here to spill.

It’s time we stopped bottling up the childhood trauma and accept the fact that we have deep rooted issues from some classic intergenerational parenting styles. But fret not! You’re not alone.

However if you don’t fall into this category, congratulations! Check out these feel-good articles on Father’s Day instead.

But if you came here just to sibuk, feel free to stay and read on. For those who came from the first half of this series, you know the drill. As for the rest, sit back, relax, and enjoy these true accounts of some really shitty parenting.


Pimp My Ride

by JUICE illustrator, Emily Shahira

Growing up, I always thought that every single child wishes that they had a different father. At 7 years old, I realised that I may not have had a normal childhood. I decided that it was best to be careful around my abusive father.

One day, I was called out of school early by my teacher, who told me my father was waiting for me at the school gate. I was confused, but I went anyway without complaining.

My dad picked me up in his new Mercedes Benz, and being an excited kid, I slammed the door shut just a bit too hard. Throughout the entire journey, my dad screamed at my face.

He asked, “Kau faham Bahasa ke tak?” multiple times, but I was too scared to answer as I sensed his rage.

My father accelerated the car, pulled open the passenger door, and threw me out. He then left me on the road to die. I was saved by bystanders.

At 19, I was clinically diagnosed with short-term amnesia, with doctors pointing to this incident to be the cause.

But the story doesn’t end there. I was a very curious child and liked to ask my mother, “Mama, how did you and Ayah meet?” but almost always receives no answer.

My parents were finally divorced when I turned 18. And at this point, I don’t really care how they met anymore, I am no longer a fan of Disney movies and I know that fairytale love stories are absolute horse shit.

But during the divorce, my mother revealed a dark family secret.

She said she never told this story while I was growing up because she did not want me to think I had a useless deadbeat father. Too late for that…

On my parents’ wedding day, my father only had his friends come over, and not a single family member of his came. At the time, my mother was told by my father that his parents had passed away and he was the only child.

The wedding went well nevertheless.

Months passed by and now it was my parents’ first time celebrating Hari Raya together. While my mother was packing her bags, she picked up a phone call on my father’s phone.

“Ucu, when are you coming back home? Umi misses you,” said a woman on the other line. My mother said, confused, that she got the wrong number and dropped the call.

Fast forward to a few weeks later, she is now celebrating Hari Raya with my father’s mum, dad, five siblings, and countless nieces and nephews (they were making babies faster than caged hamsters).

It turns out my father lied about his family being dead because he did not want my mother to know that he was previously married to a different woman and already has two children of his own.

My mother felt betrayed and wanted to get out right at that moment, but she was too embarrassed to tell anyone.

I now have two siblings and have learned that true love is, in fact, horse shit.

He Loves Me Not

by JUICE illustrator, Emily Shahira

So my dad grew up in a wealthy family and he’s very spoiled, being the second child.

The thing about him that makes me wanna throw up is that he’s very much dependant on my grandparents all his life even the fact that when he’s in his 40s, he still gets to ask for the things he wants, and this led to his arrogance.

It annoys me so much that he earns less than my mom but keeps his standards to an impracticable degree of foolery. He’s so entitled that he has to stoop so low to beg for everything, and when he gets an unclear answer that’s when all hell broke loose.

So back when I was in primary school, my dad’s been abusive verbally to me, my younger brother and my mom and quite the door slammer, daily tantrums and etc.

There was this one time when it was raining during sports day and the kids around me were running around joyfully until my dad under one of those tents decided to make it ugly with his high pitched voice shouting my name across the field.

So I instinctively ran and went inside only to get slapped.

Another thing that happened to me was that, when he got hostile to my mom unreasonably lunges his thick belt and hit us while my mom with great effort tries to defend us.

To a point in life, it gets funny when my brother and I grew out of the abuse, acknowledging the trauma and everyone was conflicted to even show compassion for him, though he changed his ways.

During my early 20s, he often said aloud “Hmm, I have no friends” “My sons don’t love me”.

I find it hilarious cause it’s humiliating.  Guess he had it coming.

Best Kept Secret

by JUICE illustrator, Emily Shahira

Repressing bad memories is one thing my brain is good at. That was until memories of my 11 year old self resurfaced.

While my other classmates were studying for UPSR, I was assigned to be a detective by my mother. She had me ask my dad for his phone under the pretense of wanting to watch Youtube videos but in reality it was to go through his camera roll and texts.

He was guilty of course. There were photos of women’s bodies secretly taken at meeting tables. Then there were the texts with his mistress.

Afterwards, my parents fought. My dad packed a lot of his stuff and started living with my grandmother. My siblings were way younger than me and didn’t question the divided weekends we had between home and my grandmother’s place. My dad always brought us rollerblading and bought gifts from Toys R’ Us.

It was all good. Except I knew.

My parents are back together now and no one talks about that period like a good Asian family would. My biggest fear is that I’m my mother’s daughter.

In relationships, I feel scared of conflict and would forgive them again and again just to keep them in my life. I never think of my worth and that I could find someone better for me.

For the longest time, I felt terrified of holding this secret about my dad, but the more people I meet, I realise I’m not alone.

There’s always something with dads.

Here’s hoping towards a better generation of fathers, because I wouldn’t wish these things on my worst enemy. (Though, if you’re someone’s worst enemy, you probably have daddy issues too) 

Happy Father’s Day <3