Helana and Dad have an odd, if not shaky, relationship. When she was small, she preferred Mama. She would have very little to do with Dad. However, in the past year or so they have developed a much closer relationship; though it is still entirely different from the one she has with me.
How SPD affects their relationship is double-sided. On the one hand, he is the go-to guy for rough-housing and play. On the other, he does not understand her meltdowns (I can’t say that I do either much of the time) or her “quirks”. It frightens him, I think, because he doesn’t understand it and thus has no idea how to handle it. It has hurt and confused him because, while she likes to be flipped over his shoulder and wrestled, she refuses most of his requests for hugs.
Dad is also very protective of his little girl in public situations. For example, when his sister asked if Helana could be in her wedding he said no. I knew nothing about the request for several days before he finally told me. He was afraid Helana would not react well in such a situation. He might be right. Walking out and standing in front of a church full of people might be overwhelming for her. He has also requested that we not visit certain family members very often out of fear that they do not understand Helana and might scold her for something that is beyond her control at this stage. Some people just do not accept SPD or ADHD as being “real”, but simply an excuse to allow a child to “misbehave”.
Mostly, they have fun together. She likes to “help” him work on cars, or in the garden. They play catch and of course do lots of wrestling. It fills me with joy to see their relationship mature and strengthen.