When I was a child, he was the one who mended my pants, fixed my bike, and helped me move. When I turned 15 was a difficult time as my mom was abusive and my dad did not protect me. Our relationship barely existed until I became an adult. He never told me that he loved me or that he was proud of me; yet he was always there for me in his quiet way and I miss him every day.
This is what I tell my clients: believe it or not, your parents did the best that they could, based on the knowledge and the resources they had. Hopefully they did better than their parents. My parents both grew up in dysfunctional homes. My mom’s father, that I had never met, suffered from PTSD due to being in war, and in addition, alcoholism runs in my family on my mom’s side. My mom was what we call “a parentified” child who had to take care of her younger brothers as my grandmother worked helping neighbors to make some extra money. It is amazing that my grandmother became a widow at 30 and she never remarried. My father moved around a lot as my grandfather was a miner. I was the first in my family who went to college and the first one who decided to make a change for the better in my family.
I promised to myself that I will be completely different from my mom and yet, sometimes I catch myself being inpatient and judgmental. I also kept attracting men who were abusive, narcissistic, emotionally unavailable, and controlling. There is a theory called “Imago theory” that I use it in my clinical practice especially when working with couples. According to this theory, we attract partners who remind us about our caregivers. Through my own healing work and being in therapy I was able to forgive my parents and move away from playing a victim. We are all ultimately responsible for our choices and how the life turns out.
The good news is that nowadays fathers are much more involved and in some cases mothers are the ones that work long hours and fathers are the ones who take care of children. It is not unusual anymore and especially with the changes in the economy. I think it is a great idea that stereotypical gender roles are blending. Who says that man can’t be a great cook? Or that a woman can’t be an executive of a 500 Fortune Company? The best thing we can do for our children is to teach them that it is ok to be different and unique.
If your father is still alive, take time to talk to him and tell him how much you appreciate him. You never know when will be the last time you see him. Thank him for all the things – small and big – that he did for you. Make him feel important even if he is retired and does not know what to do with himself. You will always be his daughter or his son.
If you are having difficulty letting go or healing the relationship, I offer a 15 complimentary consultation. Just call me at 561-299-1028 or email me at mateja@HolisticCoachingInternational.com.