13 Things No Estranged Child Needs To Hear On Father’s Day

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Even though I really love my father, I’m beginning to hate Father’s Day. The only silver lining is that I now I have a husband and kids, and I see the potential for Father’s Day to be a loving family celebration.

The kicker is that I haven’t seen my dad in seven years, and that is hard to talk about. I plan to see him for the first time at the end of the month on a family trip with my sister, and I am very, very nervous. I don’t expect this trip to fix our relationship, but I am open to breaking the ice. I’m also realistically expecting to feel emotional if and when my dad starts to interact with me in the same toxic patterns.

I miss my dad, I love my dad, but I’m tired of trying to make it work. He’s the dad, and I’m the child. Why can’t he understand this? I know I’m not alone. I know there are many of us who have had to make the difficult choice to cut a toxic parent out of our life, permanently or for a time.

If someone you know is estranged from their father, just know that it’s not easy. Please think before you speak on this wonderful family holiday:

1. I’m sure you’ll work it out.

If by “work it out,” you mean ride the same emotional roller coaster that I’ve been riding for the past 30 years, then yes, I’m sure that will happen.

2. Don’t you feel bad that he’s alone on Father’s Day?

Thanks for bringing this up. I feel really, really terrible that my father is alone in his old age since he never remarried. I think about it all the time, and I often feel like it’s my fault. I just don’t know what I can do to fix it.

3. I bet he misses you.

I miss him too, more than I can express. I’ve told him this several times before, but he hasn’t said it back.

4. Sometimes, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. 

I’m also very, very aware of this, so thanks for bringing it up. I don’t know what’s worse: The thought that my dad could die soon while we still have a broken relationship, or the thought that we have so many lost years between us that we’ll never get back.

5. Life is short.

As obvious as this is, it still sucks to hear it. I don’t know what to do to fix this relationship with my dad when time is running short. No pressure.

6. You never know what he’s like now.

Trust me when I say that I convince myself of this all the time. Then I get up the courage to get back into contact with him, and the same bullshit happens. Every time.

7. Doesn’t he deserve a call?

I can no longer justify the imbalance in our relationship. I’m the child, and he’s the parent. He can call me for once.

8. It’s just one day to honor your dad.

There’s something disrespectful about sweeping all of the issues from the past 30 years under the rug for “just one day.” That’s where I stand.

9. Don’t you understand now that you’re a parent? 

Funny that you bring this up. Becoming a parent has made me even more outraged at the way I was treated by my dad as a child.

10. He couldn’t have done anything that bad.

But you don’t really know that, do you? If you have a few hours, I’d be happy to share.

11. Just send a card.

A card really isn’t going to fix it. It might make him feel good for a moment, but it’s just a Band-Aid on a bigger issue.

12. Maybe this is the right time to work it out?

Cheesy Father’s Day reunion scenes are very unlikely to happen, no matter what Hallmark movies suggest. I recently told my dad that I was nervous about seeing him at the end of the month, and he told me to have “low expectations” about it. I may be misinterpreting what he said, but that was very hard to hear.

13. Your kids need to know their grandfather.

Parents and grandparents earn their titles. He’s welcome at any time to start the process by reaching out to me and my kids.

Dad, if you are reading this, I love you, and I miss you more than you know. I think about you every day. Happy Father’s Day.

Click here for 13 Things No Estranged Child Needs To Hear On Mother’s Day.

(Image: YanLev/Shutterstock)