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Billy Reed: By all means, let’s celebrate all the fathers who are building their kids up; sadly, not all do

Of all the made-for-Hallmark special days, my least favorite is Father’s Day. I dread its coming and always am happy to see the door hit it in its butt.

As an abused child, you see, it dredges up too many unhappy memories. My father disowned me when I was 16 and left me out at sea, to fend for myself without a lifeboat in sight.

But then I look at so many of today’s young fathers and I’m filled with hope. I don’t have any empirical evidence to support this, but it seems far more are sincerely engaged with their families as never before.

Billy Reed is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame and the Transylvania University Hall of Fame. He has been named Kentucky Sports Writer of the Year eight times and has won the Eclipse Award three times. Reed has written about a multitude of sports events for over four decades and is perhaps one of the most knowledgeable writers on the Kentucky Derby. His book “Last of a BReed” is available on Amazon.

So I watch with pride the way my son-in-law Rob raises my two granddaughters. He won’t even be home today because he’s on a field-hockey trip with his younger daughter, Lucy.

I also want to mention Phillip Bailey, who married my dear friend Larry Langan’s only child, Kelly. Together hey are raising two of the sweetest little girls I’ve ever seen.

I don’t know what kind of dad I was. Only my daughters, Amy and Susan, can answer that, and I will accept whatever they say. I do know I’ve felt a lot of guilt over the years for missing too many of their concerts, plays, and other events.

My only defense is that I was trapped by the eternal conflict between family and career. Usually career won out because I feared being out to sea again with no lifeboat in sight.

Back in my childhood days, nobody talked about abuse. It was swept under the rug because it was ugly and unseemly. So I was well into my adulthood before I realized I had been both verbally and physically abused

Some of these wounds never heal, no matter how successful you are or how many hours of therapy you undertake. If you’re not careful, they can jump back up at any time to shatter your ego.

I was saddened to learn that Kentucky still ranks No. 1 in all kinds of abuse. This conjures up memories of men in wife-beater shirts on hot summer night. It brings to mind bullyism, violence, even incest.

Whatever else we need to do to make Kentucky better – and there’s a long list beginning with education — we must make eradicating abuse a very high priority.

It is simply unacceptable in a civilized society for wives to fear their husbands or children to fear their fathers. Our teachers, clergy, and law-enforcement officials can band together to show us the way.

I don’t ever remember my father telling me he loved me. I was a disappointment to him because I cared more about books than I did athletics. He was afraid that I would become a “sissy,” as he called it, and embarrass him by not being manly enough.

I know there are many like me out there, both male and female. So let’s get through another Father’s Day by giving them whatever credit, if any, that they may deserve, but not letting them off the hook for what they did – or are doing – to us.

And by all means, let us celebrate all the responsible young men of today who are taking fatherhood seriously and building up their kids instead of tearing them down.

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