Have you looked for a Fathers Day card for your Dad? Have you struggled with the words? Does your heart sink when the cards talk about your Dad being ” The Best Dad in the World”, or they joke about your Dad being “Bank of Dad” or “Dad’s Taxi Service”? Do you look at the cards and wish they simply said ” Thinking of you on Fathers Day”
If you have a great relationship with your Dad then Fathers Day is a wonderful day of celebration, a day when it is good to acknowledge all that your Dad has done for you. It is a day when you spend time with your Dad consciously aware of your love for him and his for you. But when your relationship with your Dad is not all you wish it could be Fathers Day can be a difficult day to get through.
I can remember phoning my Dad one year to ask if my sister and I could have lunch with him on Fathers Day. When I asked if he was free I must admit I didn’t mention Fathers Day. I simply asked if we could have lunch together on the Sunday. His immediate reaction was that it sounded like a lovely idea but the date rang a bell for him so he needed to go and check. The phone went quiet as he went to check his diary. His next words were a shock.
” Sorry K, I cant do this Sunday because it is Fathers Day”.
That was sort of the point I thought as the sadness gripped my body, but I didn’t let him know how I was feeling. The reason he could not spend Fathers Day with my sister and I was because he was spending it with his ‘second family’.
Sadly we do not always have the relationship with our parents that we dream of. Either through personality or circumstances they are not there for us in the way we expect and the difference between the reality and our expectations are most evident on celebration days such as Fathers Day. It can take many years to realise that no matter how much we wish our Dads would help us to feel better by acting differently our only way to find some peace in these circumstances is to stop wishing they would change.
There are 3 ways that we can help ourselves to feel better….
(i) Acceptance. – One of the hardest things to do is to accept the Father we have as he is but acceptance is the one thing that will give us the most peace . In truth we expect others to accept us as we are so we have no right to expect someone else to change simply because they are not acting the way we expect them to. How would your situation change if you didn’t need your Dad to behave in a specific way?
(ii) Choice – That said, if we really don’t like the way someone is treating us and their presence in our lives is constantly upsetting us we always have the choice to live without that person. Blood relative or not, if it is less painful to walk away and not feel constantly hurt then that is an option we have open to us. There is no law that says we have to allow our birth relatives to be a part of our life. Sometimes even walking away for a short while gives us a better perspective and so it doesn’t have to be a permanent solution. The choice is always there, but for this to be a solution you cannot walk away with blame or hatred in your heart. You still have to work on acceptance first.
(iii) Focus on the Good Qualities – There is also a middle ground. Again acceptance is still necessary but changing our thoughts about our Dad and how he behaves can often improve our relationship. Constantly thinking about what a parent is not doing for us is torture so stop having those thoughts. Instead focus on the things you like about your Dad. Every day think of a good quality that he has, think of a time when you have enjoyed being with him, be mindful of the love that you have in your heart for him. Sometimes as you change your focus, the way your Dad behaves towards you can change. But don’t do it for that reason. Do it so that you can find peace with the way your Dad shows up in your life.
One final thought. To anyone whose Dad is not the loving father they yearn for please do not blame yourself or him for the situation. His lack of love or support is probably due to difficult experiences he has had in his life. You have not walked in his shoes so you cannot know why but there will be a why somewhere. And his why will not be a reflection on you. You are special, you are good enough and you are very much worthy of being loved. If you have a difficult relationship with yoiur Dad I hope you can find your peace this Fathers Day.