It’s no secret that Father’s Day can be a bit of an uncomfortable day for some. If you have a strained relationship with your dad, then you cringe a little when people ask you, “Are you seeing your dad today?” or “What did you get your dad for Father’s Day?” because the answers could be no and nothing. Estrangement comes in many forms, of course. Some fathers are literally not there—they’re just gone. They left. Nobody knows where they are. Some fathers left the family in an official manner, moving out of the house, but are still around. Some fathers are very much in the picture living under the same roof as their children but just aren’t emotionally available. This can be often true when a father had all daughters, but hoped for a son—he may not provide his daughters with the love and attention they need. My dad was caught cheating and kicked out when I was 15. He’s still with the other woman who openly wishes I didn’t exist since I’ll take up part of my father’s money according to his will, which she clearly wishes she received all of. That puts a damper on our relationship I assure you. For Father’s Day, here is a note to women with estranged relationships with their fathers.
You’re not alone, and you’re not a bad daughter
Don’t let all the smiling faces and anecdotes about how Father’s Day will be spent fool you. A lot of people have less-than-perfect relationships with their fathers. You aren’t strange or bad for not celebrating this holiday. Father’s Day is for fathers who acted as fathers. Maybe you just didn’t have one of those. That’s not something you should feel bad about.
That relationship doesn’t define you
That relationship doesn’t have to define you. All of our parents influenced who we are today, and many of our parents messed us up. But you have the power to clean up the mess. Your issues with your father may have caused you to have certain destructive patterns and behaviors, but you have the strength to fix those. Your life is still your own.
In fact, holding a grudge means he wins
If you do allow your estranged father to be the reason you still do things like…choose the wrong men or…drink too much, you’re actually letting that man win. He’s taken your life from you. He’s controlling your life. Doesn’t that make you, even more, want to shed the bad patterns you’ve developed, that your estranged father caused?
And, he wouldn’t even care
The reality is that, your father wouldn’t even necessarily feel bad to see how his actions affected you negatively. If he’s truly an absent father, he probably wouldn’t even admit that he caused those issues. If you do have destructive patterns, and your father triggered those patterns, and you hope that that reality makes him feel terrible, it may just…make him feel nothing. So only you suffer.
Though you’re probably strong as hell
I wouldn’t wish a bad relationship with one’s father on anyone but I will say this: some of the strongest women I know have strained relationships with their fathers. They became well-adjusted, confident, independent women with just one parent because they reached deep inside themselves and found an inner strength nobody knew was even there.
You can know him, but have boundaries
If your father is trying to come back into your life, and you’re even entertaining the idea of letting that happen, you may be frightened. You may worry that he’ll make the rules of this relationship. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You’re not a little girl anymore. You’re an adult, and you are allowed to set boundaries and establish the rules of this relationship.
Don’t forget to thank your mom
If your dad is a piece of work, that can’t be easy for your mother. So remember to thank her from time to time. In fact, you may want to spend Father’s Day with your mom. It can’t be an easy day for her, either.
He may have been a kid when he had you
Though it’s never easy to forgive those who let us down, try to understand that your dad may have just been a kid when he had you. Even if he was in his early twenties, that’s still very young for a man—most men don’t know how to be responsible at that time, and don’t know who they are yet. He probably abandoned you out of fear and insecurity—not because he didn’t love you.
He has his own trauma
Your father likely has his own trauma, too. You know the saying: hurt people hurt people. There’s no knowing what he may have been through as a child. It must have been pretty rough to mess him up so badly that he’d fail at fatherhood.
Screw the “daddy issues” stereotype
Don’t waste your time on anybody who makes assumptions about you because you have an estranged father. Don’t believe all you hear about “daddy issues” (except for the fact that there can be an upside to them!)
You’ll find a man who is different
Because of your father, you know exactly what you want in a man because you know exactly what you don’t want. The painful experience you had with your dad gave you a close-up look at what qualities you don’t want in a life partner. They’re unmistakable to you now.
And you’ll provide the best dad for your kids
You also know how to spot a man who will make a great father. Again, you learned first-hand from your father what sort of traits don’t lend themselves to fatherhood, and you won’t make the mistake of choosing someone who has those.
He did still give you something
You don’t need to thank your father to his face, but if you want a way to hate him a bit less, remember he gave you something. Maybe it’s your nice nose or good hair. Maybe it’s your knack for math. Maybe it’s your sense of humor. Maybe it’s a sibling whom you adore.
You and your siblings are closer for it
Speaking of siblings, you and your siblings are probably especially close because you got through the struggle of having an estranged father together. I know my sister and me are.
You have other wonderful men in your life
A father figure doesn’t have to be your paternal father. If you think about it, you probably have lots of other wonderful father figures in your life who have provided you with that paternal guidance. You can always thank them on Father’s Day.