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Drake's Argument With His Dad Is A Reminder That There's More Than One Way To Be An Absentee Father

Grazia logo Grazia 09/10/2019 Georgia Aspinall
Getty © Getty Getty

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

Dennis Graham has accused his son, Drake, of lying about him being an absentee father in his lyrics, in order to sell records. Drake has previously stated that his father lived in a different state when he was growing up and only saw him on ‘special visits and occasional summers’.

Appearing on Power 106’s Close Conversations with Nick Cannon, Cannon asked Graham how he feels about Drake’s lyrics about their supposedly strained relationship.

‘I had a conversation with Drake about that,’ Graham replied. ‘I have always been with Drake. I talked to him if not every day, every other day and we really got into a deep conversation about that, I said “Drake, why are you saying all this different stuff about me man like this is not cool”. He goes “Dad it sells records,” and I said “Okay well cool.”’

Drake has previously sung about his difficult relationship with his father in hits From Time, Look What You’ve Done and 0 to 100. In the songs, he mentions his dad living in Memphis - Drake grew up in Toronto - and accuses him of not visiting or paying child support to his mother.

‘Me and my dad are friends,’ Drake told GQ in 2012. ‘We’re cool. I’ll never be disappointed again, because I don’t expect anything anymore from him. I just let him exist, and that’s how we get along. We laugh. We have drinks together. But I spent too many nights looking by the window, seeing if the car was going to pull up. And the car never came.’

He has since responded to his dads comments on Instagram, saying ‘woke up today so hurt man. My father will say anything to anyone that’s willing to listen to him. It’s sad when family gets like this but what can we really do? That’s the people we are stuck with…Every bar I ever spit was the truth and the truth is hard for some people to accept.’

a close up of a screen: Drake responds to Dennis Graham's comment © Credits: Instagram @champagnepapi Drake responds to Dennis Graham's comment

While many online seem to believe Graham (that Drake has been lying), some of Drake’s supporters have made valid points in his defence. For example, pointing to his early work that was notably less successful than his last few albums in which he also talks about his father being absent - clearly illustrating discussing daddy issues doesn't necessarily lead to sales.

But, the most interesting conversation that has stemmed from this news is how we define an absent father. It is on the record that Graham lived in another state from his child, and legally a parent who is physically absent from the child’s home is considered an ‘absent parent’. But, at a time when couples are as likely to divorce as they are to stay married, it hardly seems fair that a parent simply living outside the child’s home would be said to have abandoned their child.

That being said, when it comes to living in a whole other state, it seems obvious that contact would be a lot less frequent. Does talking on the phone, or in the current age of technology on Facetime, count as meaningful time spent with a child?

Regardless of how you define it, one thing is true: absentee fathers rarely consider themselves absent. Because, who wants to admit they abandoned their child?

‘Me and my siblings were my dad’s last priority for about four years after he and my mum got divorced,’ says Hannah*, 33 from Hertfordshire, ‘we have a great relationship now, but he still refuses to acknowledge that he was essentially absent that entire time.

Nicki Minaj, Drake posing for the camera © Getty Images

‘This is a man who cared more about partying than his kids,’ Amy continues, ‘the only reason we saw him was because my mum would wait at his doorstep until he took us in. She says we were going to have a relationship with him by force or fire. We remember it all, but he still denies how bad he was to this day... 20 years later.’

The reasoning seems obvious, shame. According to Dr. Rachel Davies, a senior practice consultant for Relate, she has never heard a man describe himself as an absent father - other than to perhaps say it's how others may describe him. But ultimately, fathers being honest about their behaviour is essential for children.

'Denying the reality of not being around when a child knows you weren’t will only confuse a child,' she tells Grazia. 'So [absent fathers] need to try to be honest. What is important is dealing with a child’s questions as fully as possible without being negative about a partner.'

So perhaps instead of denying Drake's experience, Graham could try acknowledging where living in another state may have impacted his ability to raise a child. It seems that only when absent fathers acknowledge their own shame can they allow for a forgiving and healthy relationship moving forward. After all, if you have abandoned your child for a period of time, the least you can do as a parent is validate that child's feelings.

Gallery: 10 ways being a kid has changed in the past 20 years [INSIDER]

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