There were times we just sat across from each other at the dining room table and talked about life. We played basketball on Saturday mornings. When I started becoming interested in girls, he was there to guide me through the maze of emotions and horm
ones. I found my faith through his leadership. I’m talking about Dad. Not my dad, but the one I always imagined was mine.
In reality, I couldn’t stand my own dad for years. I didn’t want to be around him. I didn’t want him to ask me any questions. I didn’t want any input or advice from him, because I felt he wasn’t there for me the way I thought a dad should be.
I scorned my father because I felt he sorely neglected my mom, my brother and me. I’ve written harsh words here but it’s a true reflection of the troubled relationship we endured through my teen years.
Then something changed.
One day, sitting at my dad’s dinner table, I decided to take a great risk based on a suggestion from my counselor. He said I should ask my dad about his own childhood and teen years. Frankly, I never cared about that because I was so focused on me and who my dad was to me.
As I listened to my dad, I could feel myself becoming very emotional. He told me things that actually made my childhood look pretty tame. He described scenarios he faced as a teenager that helped me recognize his growth as a man. Knowing what he had dealt with, I could tell he was trying to make a difference in my life.
I realized then that my father’s failures were based on the image I had created in my mind of the perfect dad. Expectations that were unrealistic and unfair. When it comes to my dad, I’ve learned to take off the shades of imperfection and instead look more clearly through the eyes of mercy and forgiveness. I now view his parenting style through the lens of his childhood and not just my own.
I told my dad that I was really proud of the obvious changes he’s made to try and be a good father to me. Even though he didn’t do it all perfectly, I told him I loved him and am thankful he’s my dad. It’s the beginning of a new relationship for us.
An article like this brings a mix of different emotions for people. Some people will celebrate the great relationship they have with their dad, while others will often stand perplexed in front of the greeting card display on birthdays and holidays knowing their dad doesn’t fit into a Hallmark® description. There are those who wish they had a dad and those who mourn the loss of a dad.
For those of you who can identify with my situation, I encourage you to try what I did and see your dad from a different perspective. Learn to appreciate the effort he’s made and don’t measure his success by what he has failed to do. Accept him for who he is and what he has the capability to be to you.
Lastly, if you are a father, work to be the best dad you can be. Learn from the mistakes your father made and be a better example for your children. You can learn to do so by looking past the flaws and shades of imperfection.