What was your relationship with your father like growing up?
My mom and my dad divorced when I was 8. So, from the ages of 8 – 12, I spent my summers with my dad. After that, the next time I saw my dad was my high school graduation. Prior to him coming to my graduation, we would talk on the phone and he would send me birthday and Christmas cards in the years between. But, it wasn’t a close relationship. During that time, he did not provide any emotional support, and although he says that he provided child support, my mother tells another story.
What did the lack of support from your father look like and how did it make you feel?
There was one time that I called my father, and I asked him for some money to help pay for my high school tuition. He told me that he had just bought a new Cadillac, so he didn’t have any money to help me. I knew that he was supporting and taking care of his wife’s children, while my brother and I were with my mom who was a single parent, working hard and struggling every day. When you’re young, you don’t know the whole story, so you formulate your feelings based on the information that you have. So, I had a lot of hard feelings towards my dad. Because of this, after I graduated high school, I didn’t have too much to do with my dad. I would talk to him every once in a while but it was not like I missed him because he hadn’t been involved in my life while I was growing up.
How did you feel about your father at the time?
He was not one of my favorite people. I felt like he had turned his back on me, my brother and my mom. I don’t want to say that I didn’t love him, but I don’t think that I could have said that I liked him at that time. I didn’t pursue a relationship with him, and the fact that our relationship was distant was fine with me. I had grown accustomed to it.
How did not having your dad impact you emotionally and in your relationships with other people?
I was fortunate when I was growing up. I did have some male figures in my life. I was very involved with the catholic church, so the priests were my father figures and they would share a lot of knowledge with me about what a young lady should/shouldn’t do. But because I had such a great mother, I was fine. Of course, every daughter would want to have a close relationship with her father and every daughter misses her father. But when you have a mother who takes the place of both and fills your heart with love, you don’t miss it. But, having an absent father makes you more determined to not connect with another man who you think would wind up being like that. So it kind of puts you on your guard.
How did not having your father affect your view of men?
It didn’t have any negative impact on me in the sense that I wasn’t scared of men or I wasn’t going to date men. I always knew that one day I wanted a husband and I wanted children. But I knew that it was easier for a man with children to find a woman to help take care of those kids, then for a woman to find a man to help take care of the kids. So my mindset was that if I ever got married and divorced with young children, I was going to be the good time parent. I was determined, because most women take on the role of the mother, the father, and the caretaker and that’s why they’re so stressed. I looked at my mother and saw the emotional toll it took on her to raise two kids by herself. So, I vowed to never be that woman.
What is your relationship with your dad now?
Through the years you have limited facts. As time goes on, having animosity in your heart for your parent is draining and it’s not healthy. And the thing about it is that when you carry that type of dead weight, you’re the one who suffers for it. My dad was going on, living his life with his wife and my step brothers and sisters, and I don’t know that he ever knew the impact that he had. So, finally, I prayed to the Lord to help me with that to overcome that animosity. I wanted to have a pure heart toward my dad. I didn’t want to be fake, but I didn’t want to be carrying around a grudge or any hard feelings. And it took years. When I finally started realizing that was after the birth of my second child which was about 26 or 27
How did mend your relationship with your father?
My dad would always call and send cards. Over time, I extended myself more and more. For example, I would talk longer on the phone and on the holidays I would send him things. Gradually, it was just a process where next thing you know, there is no hard feelings. It’s your dad. Its not the dad that you would have picked, but it’s your dad and you just make the best of it. This is something that took years and it took healing, and now I’m here and I’m healed.
What would you say to a woman who is still struggling to forgive her absent father?
I would definitely pursue it even if the relationship doesn’t mend. You can get rid of your hard feelings because you’ve extended yourself, you’ve expressed how you felt, and I feel like that will free you. Ultimately I believe only God can heal us of every pain. It’s not to say that you don’t have times when the hurt still hurts, but it wont incapacitate you. It wont turn to hate. I feel sorry for people who are hurting like that, it’s a heavy hurt and it’s deep, so I don’t want anyone to carry that. I would strongly recommend that even if they don’t talk to their dad, write it out and pour it out. This is because carrying it is going to hurt you, psychologically, physically and emotionally if you continue to carry that bitterness.