Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day - A Day of Forgiveness

On the face of it, Father's Day is a happy, joyous occasion. Hallmark prints millions of sentimental and funny cards to celebrate the day. Young children glow as they give cards and presents to their fathers. And those who lost their father's long ago wax sentimental about the wonderful father no longer in their life.

But for many, Father's Day is a challenging day. For those who have lost their father recently the pain is still too strong to be light-hearted. Some people never had a dad and this day serves to remind them of what they never had. Others watched their dad abandon them, never to be seen again. And still more simply have a complex, difficult relationship with their fathers.

I grew up in a home with a single parent. I seem to recall my father moving out when I was about five. The divorce, court dates and battles went on for much of my childhood.

Being a child of divorced parents can be very confusing. Children can't understand the complexities of grown up problems. That often leads to taking sides.

When I was in high school I chose to not see my father for an entire year, not even on Father's Day. My father was very hurt by that. I was a stubborn teenager who thought it was time to assert my independence and control of relationships. I relented after that year but our relationship was still strained.

Later when I started college and lived away from home, I decided it was time to start fresh with my Dad. I invited him to engage in some honest dialogue and he reciprocated. For the first time I was able to look back on the past with an adult mind. I was able to logically sort through all the memories and separate the fact from fiction.

From the conversations with my Dad, I learned that no one is perfect. I don't mean that to sound flip. As children we grow up with the illusion that our parents are without faults.

As our new relationship, our adult relationship, developed, I learned forgiveness. I don't mean that easy "I forgive you" that lightly falls from the lips. I mean that raw, honest forgiveness that only comes from deep within the soul.

Today, my Dad and I can talk about more mundane things like gardening and grandchildren. The deeper conversations have been relegated to the past. We can celebrate our hard work with lighthearted banter and gently nudging debates about family history.

For me, Father's Day is truly a day of forgiveness. A day to celebrate second chances. I'm grateful that my dad and I had a chance to re-define and re-create our relationship, to forgive each other and to move forward in a meaningful, positive way.

It's never too late for second chances. It's never too late to extend your hand. Keep your mind open and your expectations to a minimum. Reach out and offer to dialogue. Your request just might be reciprocated.


  1. Wonderful post Marian! Happy for you that you have the relationship you do now with your father. Father's Day does have many different emotions for different people, and I can relate to many you share here. Happy "Day of Forgiveness" to you.

  2. A beautiful post Marian. Father's Day for me is a day about my wonderful step-father, father-in-law who died just last year, my God-father, and my husband. I never thought of writing a post about the difficulties with my father, but perhaps I should. It's family history, ugly or not. I'm glad yours had a more happy ending!

  3. Cheryl and Cheryl, thank you so much for your comments. I admit I had to think once or twice about whether to post this. But it seemed to me that many people may have felt conflicted on holidays just as I have. I think that looking at the past is always beneficial if done constructively. And if there is a chance to fix "problem areas" then it's worth exploring. But when things can't be fixed, they are better left alone.

  4. Thanks for sharing about that difficult time, Marian. I think both Mother's and Father's Days can be hard for many different reasons, several that your post points out. It's great that you and your father reconciled and you were able to forgive him. Blessings to you.

  5. Clap, Clap, Clap, Great post Marian, well thought out, well written, not flip, not negative. Thank you.

  6. Wonderful post, Marian. While we celebrate holidays they can come with complications. In my case my mother, father, and grandparents are gone, so holidays bring a sense of loss. While I love celebrating with my son and my husband, I still miss what holidays use to be. Sometimes I think it's hard for real life to live up to the expectations of all of those Hallmark moments. I'm glad you've made peace with your past.

  7. Thank you so much for writing this Marian. Although not myself the child of divorce, my mother is and this post gave me a small window into some of the issues that she doesn't talk about. Also, it was a beautiful reminder to all of us to work through the difficult parts of ANY of our relationship.

  8. A lovely post Marian, thank you. These special days can be challenging as well as fun. Jo