As an aging father and grandfather, my bet is that not a day goes by for countless Dads who think about their children and the many regrets of not being there for them while they were growing up. I fall into this ‘self-punishment’ category big time. And on this Fathers Day like all the others in the past, I think about it even more…
I write in my book about being challenged as a young man. With unrelenting and bold determination, selfish survival was my main focus for many years after leaving home at age 17. Building healthy lifetime relationships took a back seat. As a young adult, I really didn’t know how to love or trust my partner(s) anyway. My experience demonstrates how critical it is to be a good parent because parenting skills start with excellent mentoring and modeling in the beginning in your own home as a child. But when parents suffer from their own emotional challenges, kids are either ignored completely or are not a priority. Bad parenting is an inter generational problem at worst. If you experience trauma as a child and domestic violence for what ever the reasons, the behavior is often transferred or adopted as your style as an adult parent.
For me, my parenting became much better later on in life, but it was never good enough. I know now the root causes and regret each day of my life not being with my oldest daughters while they were growing up. I missed almost everything. You do not bond with your kids when unavailable to them each day for all the small but very important things that happen. These are the daily child rearing and parenting joys and challenges that bond children with parents, and makes a difference for a lifetime. Although I know the root causes of my failure as a father, there are no excuses and full responsibility must be accepted in order to heal. But healing never really comes, because we parents tend to punish ourselves for a lifetime. All we can expect is for our children to forgive us over time and try to make a difference later in life with grand kids and in attempting to bond with adult children in a mature friendship that has trust and respect. This is often a tough road to hold for many. As older parents we can become a much better parental model and mentor with our younger children as well, if we have a second chance. We can also dedicate our free time as seniors in the community to help with causes that support kids. I do this passionately with www.neighborsforkids.org in Depoe Bay, Oregon. Still, with all the second chances and making a difference for other children in your life, the guilt sticks and the self-punishment never goes away.
As parents we find out soon enough that our greatest accomplishment in life is our children’s well being and success. If we don’t get it right up front, it is just too late, entirely too late. Learn to live with it and heal as best as possible…and try to forgive yourself, if you can…
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story Click to order my book or download Kindle version…
“We all know it’s a tragedy when a father misses out on his child’s life. It’s not really about the birthdays, graduations, Christmas celebrations and such because at times, even the most mediocre father makes those events. It’s more about the little things they miss. A child learning to tie their shoes, making new friends at school, learning to read, losing their first tooth or just watching them grow up are all things that seem insignificant, until you look back over your life with your child. Then, you realize just how special these moments are. You realize how special your child is.”
|No grudge necessary: Absent fathers already have the punishment of regret… by Kelly Jackson, September 11, 2012