Since its Father’s Day on Sunday, I have been getting a lot of letters on deep seated pain about daddy issues, parent absenteeism, abandonment, and parent-child reconciliation. I don’t want to minimize the role our parents play in who we become in our adult relationships. There are many reasons why it is that we pick the wrong types. I’d like to give you the easy answer, but the truth is there isn’t just one factor.
The reality is that your parents can’t be blamed for your past failed relationships. You decided to select who you dated. I’m not here to tell you that they didn’t contribute to the choices in who you selected, why you selected them and/or why you tolerated things you may not have normally tolerated. Your parents provided you with the basics: life. That’s the only thing they owe you. The rest is entirely up to your own design. They provided the context for how you function. You take that blueprint and create your life schematics. The best thing you can do is go through life recognizing why you made the decisions that you did. If it was due to an absent parent, address it with that parent or parents. They also have reasons for their decisions. You have tried to reason out the rationale for their decisions for years and, in the final analysis, that is hardly ever their reasons. The reasons that exist in your mind are reasons you created to cope with your pain, hurt, the incomprehensible or the unfathomable. They tried to deal with their decisions the best way they could. Listen to their rationale. More than likely it was never intended to hurt you or not show you love. All of our decisions are based on selfish reasons (meaning they are benefiting some aspect of what we are and think we need/want). Try to avoid thinking that they owe you more than what is realistic. That may further imprison you or arrest your growth. Once you have identified the aspects that caused you to make the decisions you made, then you are able to move forward and understand the painful experiences you have had. We all have things that cause us pain that keep leading us to reproduce pain. That’s the irony. Sometimes it is conscious, other times its subconscious.
Today begin a different practice. Start by recognizing your parents’ limitations. They didn’t intend for you to be brought into this world to suffer. They may have been in their own personal version of torture. Any human life brought into this world is a gift because it’s something the world needed. You are not here to suffer silently. Sometimes we love in search of ourselves, to fill a void, to feel again, to feel needed, simply to have companionship, etc. In every case, ask yourself what this relationship really represents in your life and to you.
What are some of the things you can do to help reconcile some of the causes of your pain?
Step 1. Gratitude list
Make a list of all of the qualities you admire about your parent(s). The one (or both) that affected you the most. It could be that they provided you with a home, clothes, food, toys, your education, etc. Anything that made your life comfortable.
Step 2. Defining moment
Once you’ve completed that list, I want you to go back and think of a moment in time that you were grateful that they were there. It could be taking you to your little league practice, that they pushed you to excel in school, that they both where in the delivery room, they took you to get your driver’s license or your first car, the day you had your own child and gained a better understanding of the choices a parent makes, etc. Anything that contributed to you at the time or to who you are now.
Step 3. Reflection
How does it make you feel? That feeling is what you should feel when you are in a healthy relationship.
Happy Father’s Day and thank you mom & pop!