a father's day without a father

When Father’s Day Hurts: Healing from Father Wounds

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and I hope it is a celebration for you. I hope you spend tomorrow honoring your father and enjoying the recognition you deserve. Over the years, I’ve had some really conflicting emotions about Father’s Day. My parents made decisions starting before my birth and then throughout my life that would take me until adulthood to reconcile. Don’t get me wrong—I loved my dad and have some very fond memories with him, but the wounds I acquired growing up definitely left scars.

Just like a physical injury, a father wound will become infected if it is left untreated.

Just like a physical injury, a father wound will become infected if it is left untreated. And, to be honest, Father’s Day isn’t fun for everyone. This is especially true when you experience a Father’s Day without a father. While some men can celebrate, for others, the day is neither fun nor easy. Here are 4 reasons Father’s Day hurts and how to find healing.

1. Growing up Without a Dad

“Who’s going to take my dad’s place?” A dad-shaped hole in a child’s life is a chasm of uncertainty. A Father’s Day without a father can evoke feelings of abandonment, loss, and anger. It also can motivate a man to give his children what he never had: a father who is active and present.

If you did not have a present father growing up, how has this affected your approach to life? Bitter or better? Victim or victor? Even men who seem on top of the world can have an underlying “daddy gap” that festers and rears its ugly head from time to time. Healing begins with forgiveness and turning the circumstance over to God for good. Finding other good men to invest in you is helpful. A mentor goes a long way in providing what was missed.

2. Having a Dad Who Recently Passed Away

“I’ll see you later.” Those were the final words I ever said to my dad. I gave him a hug and my daughter kissed her grandpa goodbye for the last time. Little did we know he would pass that night—exactly four weeks before Father’s Day. A Father’s Day without a father may achingly resonate with you. I get it.

My dad’s passing really put a lot of things in perspective. I felt like a little kid again—going through old pictures of him and sharing some of our best memories. I am grateful for those times. My daughter made a collage with pictures of her grandpa and inspirational quotes. We still stop by his gravesite throughout the year to reminisce, mostly on Christmas and Father’s Day. Keep celebrating your dad and the legacy he left in your family.

3. Being Estranged from Your Dad

“I hate my dad!” These words came from a young man in a class I teach. How does someone have that animosity toward a parent? Abuse, betrayal, abandonment, or absence of love may top the list. Whatever the case, a man who is harboring this sort of pain is going to struggle to move forward in other areas of life.

If you cannot talk with your dad face to face for whatever reason, consider writing a letter to him—and mailing it. Or, read it out loud to yourself or someone close to you, which also can help with healing. Before my dad passed, I eventually was able to talk with him, man to man. I laid out everything I felt. It was also the one and only time I directly prayed over my dad. He died three years later. Though I grieved, I knew I had been freed from all the anger and hostility I had toward him.

4. The Loss of Your Own Fatherhood

Perhaps you have suffered the loss of being a father, before or after your child was born. Or maybe you and your wife have struggled with infertility. Father’s Day is a day you watch approach on the calendar with a heaviness in your heart. My heart does go out to you. In an uplifting fatherhood movie Courageous, one man says to another, “Losing a child is like living with an amputation. You heal, but you are never the same.”

I asked a family member who lost her teenage daughter to suicide what Mother’s Day is like for her. “The first few holidays will be the hardest,” she said. “But remembering the times with your child and honoring them is a great way to get through.” Have a strong support system. Seek counseling and address any depression immediately. My hope and prayer is that you do heal and are able to keep moving forward.

What will this Father’s Day bring for you? We are all going to face hurts one day, and Father’s Day can be a big one. Celebrate your family now. Address wounds so they don’t stay infected. Find comfort in who you are as a father and what you mean to your family. Keep going in faith, hope, and love.

Earn some points: Are you married? Father’s Day may be hard for your wife. If it is, share this iMOM article with her: When Father’s Day Breaks Your Heart.

Sound off: How have you been able to heal from father wounds of your own?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are your favorite things to do on Father’s Day?”

 


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