When I see my husband play with our son, I can clearly see how much
has changed within just one generation related to how emotionally available father’s are to their children.
His own father overwhelmed with work and providing for the family matched with emotional closures left over from his own father’s trauma from World War II kept their relationship distant.
This emotional history for his Dad kept them from simply playing, laughing and connecting together with ease throughout their father – son relationship.
How do you experience your relationship with your father?
- Does being alone with your father make you feel awkward or uncomfortable?
- Do you sometimes feel that your dad doesn’t actually know you very well?
- Are you uncertain whether your father is proud of you?
- Do you look forward to seeing your father, and then feel vaguely let down after the visit?
All of these questions are designed to highlight something that is invisible and typically hard to pinpoint, but which is absolutely vital for a healthy father/child relationship.
When you grow up emotionally disconnected from your father, you don’t necessarily realize how it will impact your adult relationship with him. Many fathers may provide well materially and deeply love their child; yet that missing link is often that they don’t know how to emotionally connect, often because their own fathers didn’t emotionally connect with them. This leaves an essential missing link as your life unfolds.
If your dad was distant, at work all the time or not around much in the evenings, or the experience was a mean or short tempered dad growing up, the truth may be that he simply doesn’t know how to truly connect with you. Bridging the gap of that distance can be something that you can take a step towards, even baby steps count.
Steps For Celebrating Father’s Day With Your Emotionally Distant Dad:
- Acknowledging that this lack of connection does not make your father a bad guy. You are not trying to blame him; only to understand him and yourself.
- Put a special focus on yourself for this day. Recognize that it may be a more complex day for you and your father than it is meant to be, and that’s okay.
- Dedicate some time for yourself to care for any empty spaces and blind spots in the areas of your life that seem to be affected by an emotionally disconnected dad. Make sure to take care of yourself today.
- Today, decide that you will not pass this invisible emotional distance down to your own children. Commit to giving yourself what you never got, so that you can also give it to your children.
Here are some tips to put these suggestions into action in your daily life:
The first step in learning how to tend to the emotional blind spots, is beginning to attune to your body. Where in your body do you get tight or uncomfortable when you are visiting with your dad, either in person or over the phone? Breathe into that part of your body to expand what feels tight or shut down when you think about or share time with your dad.
Take some time to look at your own love life or the inner relationship you hold with yourself including your confidence and inner dialogue. Acknowledge that the relationship you have with your dad influences these aspects of your life, along with many others.
As you consider what shaped your dad and how he showed up in the family, it may provide you with more compassion and understanding. As children of course we don’t have the ability to take in the larger picture of how life experiences shape us. Let these insights that often come with age or when we become parents ourselves to come in to support a new way of opening your eyes and heart to your dad this Father’s day.
Your father gave you a lot, but he couldn’t give to your or your siblings what he didn’t receive in the first place. This Father’s Day, focus on what he did right, what he could give.
If you enjoyed this article perhaps you would enjoy this one as well:
Before You Were Born: How your experiences in the womb and early childhood are affecting your life today