Father’s Day brings up mixed emotions for me and I oftentimes don’t know if I want to laugh or cry when I think of my father. He was bigger than life and when he walked into a room he commanded your attention. After many years of processing my relationship with my father, I actually wonder if he may have been bipolar. He seemed to have two personalities, one in public and another one privately behind closed doors. My biological mother left when I was around three or four years old, so I was raised primarily by my father and paternal grandmother. As a child, without the support or protection of a mother, I was exposed to behavior from my father that no little girl should ever have to experience; yet I still loved him, especially since he was the only parent I knew.
In 1999 I started a nonprofit organization called Forgiving For Living to help girls between the ages of 10 – 17 to build up their self-esteem, teach them various life skills and provide mentorship. The reason I was motivated to start the organization was because I know how girls feel when they don’t feel loved and when life has thrown them circumstances beyond their control. Over the years working with these beautiful young ladies, as well as countless conversations I’ve had with my grown girlfriends, one of the central themes that I hear over and over is how they all wish they had a better relationship with their father. Let me pause, I know there are a lot of wonderful fathers out there so I am not saying all girls/women have difficult relationships with their dads.
A lot of attention goes towards mothers and the role they play with their children and families and I agree; however, there is a reason why children are brought into this world by two parents. Children need their fathers just as much as they need their mothers. There are things that a father can teach, exhibit, and give that is not the same with a mother. Oftentimes as girls we put our fathers on a pedestal and we gauge men (and possibly a future husband) by the same standards of our fathers. Therefore, if we don’t have a good relationship with our fathers it can affect families for generations. Having a positive and good relationship with our fathers is critical.
As I stated in the first part of this article, I had a difficult relationship with my father as a child. Many who follow my work know that I was sexually abused by my father and it left scars on my life that I continue to fight through to this day. However, as I got older, matured and sought professional counseling for my pain, I reached back out to my father and genuinely forgave him. By forgiving my father we were able to talk, communicate and eventually we were able to seek restitution and reconciliation. The healing of our relationship began a positive domino effect throughout our entire family. While I was going through my counseling, my counselor once said to break generational curses it oftentimes takes the courage of one to do the work and change the trajectory. I chose to be that one.
My father passed away over twenty years ago and today I am truly happy that I was able to take that step for healing through the power of forgiveness before he died. After talking and breaking down the walls of hurt and pain my father thanked me for forgiving him and we were able to build a true relationship built on love.
Healing Without Hate: It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle. Pass it on!