My father was around during the early years of my life. I don’t recall his presence being significant, but he was around. As I entered middle school, I saw less and less of him. Eventually, I didn’t see him at all between the ages of 12 and 16. At 16 I saw him once, and 6 years later I learned that he passed away.
My father was a flawed man. That I know for sure. But, despite his lack of involvement in my life, I don’t think he was a bad person. He loved me. I think he made mistakes, and I am sure he struggled with some of his life decisions. I can only hope that he was at peace when he went back home to be with God.
Now, some people wonder if I have negative feelings towards my dad for not being around more – for not standing by my mother’s side. I don’t. I truly think their relationship was far more complicated than I will ever understand. I also know that my mom was well aware of his flaws before she decided to have me with him. How can I be mad at him, without being mad at her? And, Lord knows, I am not mad at her. She was a phenomenal mother throughout our childhood. She gave us everything we needed, and then some, to thrive in life. Everything I am is because of her.
I’m at peace with my father’s role in my life because, frankly, being angry won’t serve me. I have to accept that this man probably did his best. Even if he was a crappy dad, maybe that was the best he could do at the time. I don’t know anything about my father’s childhood…nothing about his upbringing, so how can I possibly pass judgment about how he raised us when I only know pieces of his story. Rather, I let his failures serve as my example for what I don’t want when it comes to my children and their relationship with my husband.
If I spend my life angry about my father’s shortcomings, it will affect how I raise my own children. It can negatively impact my interactions with them, and it can cause me to place undue pressure on my husband. I know that trying to establish a strong family unit is already a challenge, so adding anger and pain to the mix doesn’t serve any of us well.
Furthermore, I see how challenging parenthood can be and I can’t help but to wonder, even with all of my “good sense” and “best intentions,” what if I mess up one day? What if I do something that angers and hurts my children. How would I feel if they carried it into adulthood? How would I feel if, despite my love for them, they refused to forgive me?
Don’t get me wrong – I know it can be far more complicated than this. Sometimes you are angry at someone you never even met, or someone who never really made you feel like they loved you at all. Even in those cases, I urge you to forgive. The anger and pain won’t change what was done to you, and all it does is destroy a piece of your spirit.
I am not making excuses for the dads out there who are coming up short, because I firmly believe that both parents should be involved in their child’s life – every step of the way. All I am saying is that the anger and pain serves no one. To be the happiest version of yourself, and to interact with your own kids in the most positive way, you have to be able to forgive a parent that has hurt you. You have to be able to release the pain and know that you are destined to do better by your kids. You have to try and forgive.
BMWK family, is there something you need to forgive your parents for? Will you begin the road towards forgiveness today?
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