Name: Greg Frankson
Occupation: Not-for-Profit Manager / Artist
How many children do you have?
How old were you when you first became a father?
How would you rank your relationship with your father?
3 out of 5
Briefly describe the relationship with your father.
As a youth, it went from barely existent (before age 10) to completely non-existent (10-18) to a short burst of intense interest on his part (18-19), then he left to move back to Jamaica, during which time I had no contact. He lived in Jamaica for nearly two decades before returning to Canada with a new wife and two younger kids (who are around the same ages as my two older daughters). About six years ago, he had a stroke that threatened his life. In the aftermath of that scary episode, I was able to have some real conversations with him. I forgave him for the past, and we've been on good terms ever since.
How has this shaped the relationship with your children?
It has shaped it in both good and bad ways. I struggled with how to be a dad to my girls and initially wasn't a very good one if I'm honest with you (and with myself). I had Aliya a month before my 25th birthday and married her mother because I thought it was the right thing to do. The marriage was a disaster and we split up the next year. I did not have a good relationship with Aliya (now 18 years old and living in Kingston), repeating many of the same patterns that my father had set. I had an unexpected pregnancy result of a very emotionally destructive relationship with a woman who has gone to war with me over access to Rachana, my middle daughter (now 11 and in Ottawa). That has been the most difficult relationship in my life and the source of a lot of pain for me. My youngest, Xandra (age 9 and also in Ottawa) came from a relationship that nearly led to marriage. Though there have been tough times, my ex-fiancee has generally permitted a solid relationship to develop. The hardest lessons I've learned from my experiences with Aliya and Rachana are being implemented in my relationship with Xandra. We are very close. I wish I could do certain things over again, but we can only go forward, never backwards, in our decision-making.
What do you enjoy the most about being a dad?
Building. Without a doubt. Xandra is learning about the world, about life, about her voice, about how to exist and the various challenges that can come your way. Her strength is growing, and it's amazing to be part of that process. I give her what her mother cannot, and even though she doesn't fully understand that yet, I'm amazed by how much of me she takes on despite the distance between us most of the time. I have a lot of hope that she will be a strong, successful young woman. Though I don't have the same kind of influence on my elder daughters, I sincerely wish the same for them, too.