Celebrating Father’s Day is complicated for some folks, and statistics shed a good light on why. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, single moms account for 23 percent of parents; single dads make up four percent.
That disparity has a clear connection with trauma, drama and ambivalence many express when talking about their fathers. Having a good dad— whether he’s in or out of the household— is a crap shoot, but a child’s connection with a male who isn’t in the home is even more knotty.
Parents are people. And when people break up there is often drama. If your mom and dad split, there is a high likelihood it was preceded by lots of arguing, hurt feelings and resentment. But there was one hiccup in all of the fighting: you. When adults with children sever their romantic relationships, both parties don’t always deal with it well. Some youngsters focus their anger on the missing party, typically the father who’s left the household. But when you look at your situation as an adult, and the insight and wisdom that accompany adulthood, it’s easier to see the bigger picture.
There are men who fall into deep depression when their families split, and don’t recover. There are men who are blocked from co-parenting by bitter exes who would rather use access to their children as leverage and punishment. There are men who never mature and will always place their needs above others.There are men who are so embarrassed by poor decisions they’ve made in the past that they’d rather start over than look at the reminder of their shame on a regular basis. There are men who are sorry for past selfishness and want to try to make amends. Daddies are people. They hurt. They love. They change. They don’t change.
Regardless of what motivated your dad’s choices, you’re likely experiencing pain if he’s hurt you. So, how will you deal on such a celebrated holiday?
The shift is for you.
Here’s a start: try celebrating the best parts of your dad on Father’s Day—even if your relationship with him is fairly summed up by a shrug emoji—just as you do for mom on Mother’s Day. Don’t limit your assessment of him to the things that hurt. Why? You were and are always worthy of being loved, and shifting your perspective to the times he was able to show up and deliver taps into the spirit of the day. The shift is for you.
Now, this doesn’t mean lie to yourself, or others. It simply means that you’re looking at connecting with the good parts of your dad, and yourself.
Here are a few other things to consider when navigating a complicated relationship with your dad.
1 Think of both parents as regular people.
Real people have flaws. Consider how your parents’ shortcomings impacted you positively, and negatively. What have you learned from your experiences? How has looking at their history from an adult perspective affected your understanding of the past?
2 Give yourself permission to let it go.
Pick a time to say—or write— what’s on your heart, forgive and release the energy you’ve devoted to anxiety, hurt and disappointment. Remember, the choices made by your parents reflect where they were emotionally, not what you deserve.
3 Decide what you’re willing to give to the relationship going forward.
Think about what you need from your parent at this current phase of life. Is he willing to show up, now? Are you open to it? Share what’s on your heart.
4 Have a dope ass day.
Want to create a memory with your dad? Arrange it. Invite him out or give him a call and have an earnest conversation. As an adult you have the ability to shape your reality.