How to celebrate Father’s Day when your father is undeserving

With Father's Day right around the corner, here is a repost of blog on how to manage the holiday with a, shall we say, less than loving father. Celebrating YOU!

~ Robin

We all have less than perfect parents. We, ourselves, are less than perfect parents. Maybe we are involved in our children’s education and attend all school and sporting events. We also get frustrated, exasperated, and act out. We yell too often, expect too much, or are inconsistent with rules and our child’s behavior. Less than perfect is good enough. Well-respected developmental theorist Donald Winnicott states that within a secure relationship, being a good enough mother (later changed to include fathers and other caregivers), one who is less than perfect, actually facilitates children’s learning independence, forgiveness, self-reliance, and an understanding of the dependability of love. Less than perfect does not equal undeserving of the title. In my mind, undeserving covers parents who rape or sexually assault their children, subject them to horror or horrific neglect or abuse, sell or give their (the children’s) bodies to others. I’m not talking about a parent who makes a mistake. I’m referring to parents who take pleasure in harming their children’s minds, souls, and bodies.

Father’s Day is coming and, as with many holidays, we are asked to celebrate someone, to thank them, to acknowledge their gifts of love, time, and care we received from them. We are enculturated to believe family is family, the bond is unbreakable, and we’re always there for one another. We grow up hearing we must respect our parents – they raised us after all. We owe them. However, the truth is some families don’t fit the description of a loving bonded unit. In some families the children aren’t or weren’t protected, loved, or cared for. What then? You’ve survived your childhood; must you now celebrate those whom you survived in spite of?

The short answer is NO. There are other, greatly deserving, loving people you can celebrate. There are other ways to get through days of obligatory adoration of individuals who are not present or ought not be celebrated. The first thing to do is make a plan. Make choices. Consciously choose. Otherwise, you may find yourself saddened, disappointed, and isolating. A better way is to make a plan.

  • Choose who to celebrate The father in Father’s Day need not be your father. Is there a father figure you love, maybe an uncle or family friend who nurtured you? If you have children, their father can be celebrated. Do you have a father-in-law who treats you well? A brother with children? A friend’s father? What about you? As a mother, are you also the de facto father to your children? Are you a parent of a pet?
  • Choose to honor yourself It’s also alright to simply honor yourself, your growth, and your existence in the world today. Honor the child you, growing into the woman you. Honor your strength, resiliency, and sassiness. Honor your grief, what wasn’t, what should have been. Sit with you, and the sadness that was or is, and the spark of hope that can be. But mostly honor you.
  • Choose how to celebrate There are many ways to celebrate. Sending a card or flowers, having a meal together, or throwing a party are just a few. Spending time in nature, or a picnic on the living room floor, in the park, or at the beach. For those without young children, an evening of dinner and a movie or a club might be fun. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you plan to do something. If you are alone, that something can be a sappy movie and a big bowl of popcorn laying on your bed. The most important thing is to have a plan.
  • Choose to revel and reflect that you celebrated in a way that is meaningful for you Try to spend some time praising your creativity and resourcefulness at managing a difficult holiday. Meditate on your survival abilities and inner spunk that got you where you are today. Find joy in something, anything that nurtures your spirit today. You made it! You’re the you you are today, because you made it. You are deserving of all that is good. And if you don’t believe it, and can’t possibly tell yourself that truth, find someone who believes it enough for both of you. A friend, sibling, or partner. Or seek out a therapist, to help you believe in you and find your joy.

And as always, I'm here. You can reach me in Issaquah at Balance InSight, 206-790-7270.

Thanks for reading, and be well. ~ Robin