Transformational Talk ... a column by Penelope Young Andrade
Do you have a real relationship with your father?
June 01, 2017 -Penelope Y. Andrade
Do you have a real relationship with your father? Historically, fathers have been distant, idealized, uninvolved in children’s lives. Fathers offered financial support, set standards but were not available for ‘heart to heart’ relationships. While that model is changing in modern times, vestiges still interfere with true relatedness. If you want closeness gather your courage. You’ll need it to topple the stony statues culture has carved.
Here’s the tip: See if you’re prepared to know father as a real person…and whether he’s even available for intimacy. (Even if father is gone, everything suggested here can be done imaginally.) If yes, plan for father/son/daughter time…one on one. Before you actually meet, though, look inside to manage any discomfort. Grief, anger, fear may arise as you face old longings and loss. Get support from family, friends, counselors as you allow feelings to flow and open your heart. It may be harder to find and feel anger to father as the less familiar parent. You’ve likely been hurt by this arrangement more than you know, so take it slow. Repeat as necessary.
When ready, start communication in comfort zones... ask about father’s career wins and challenges…move gently toward childhood dreams – fulfilled and unrequited. Be vulnerable…offer your own real self. Ask father what he enjoyed about being your father. Return the tribute and share what you’ve appreciated about him. Expect awkward silences. Wait and breathe. Be tender as you traverse such unfamiliar territory. Take refuge in knowing that deep down in your hearts of hearts, you are each yearning to be seen, known and loved.