I hope your story’s not like mine.
I grew up without my Dad. I seldom saw him. He lived in another state. The memories I do have with him are few and scattered.
Mine isn’t a painful story. It’s just a non-story. My dad was absent.
Obviously, we all have one. A dad that is. Yet today, 1 in 3 grows up without their biological father living in the home. It’s hard to celebrate Father’s Day if Dad’s not really around.
Hang in there if your childhood memories didn’t look anything like an episode of Family Ties.
Because no matter your upbringing, or your current relationship with your biological father, there is reason to pay tribute this Father’s Day.
And, it comes in a form you least expect!
Why Our Fathers Matter
Traditionally, Father’s Day is an opportunity to thank your fathers for his role in your life.
It’s easy to think of the little things most dads do. Dads are great at helping you fix things, teaching you about sports, helping you learn about the outdoors or hundreds of other important life lessons.
But unknown to most fathers, they bring so much more to your success than you, or they, may first realize.
The National Fatherhood Initiative® has published research showing the detrimental effects on children when fathers are absent from the home. We can turn these troubling statistics around to quickly see the benefits fathers have on childhood success.
Just having a father in your life growing up likely meant you were…
- 4X less likely to live in poverty.
- less likely to suffer emotional or behavioral problems.
- 2X less likely to die as an infant.
- less likely to commit a crime or go to prison.
- 7X less likely to become a teen parent.
- less likely to be abused or neglected.
- less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.
- 2X less likely to be obese.
- 2X less likely to drop out of high school.
If you grew up with your father, congratulations! You may not have realized it then, but you were in possession of one of the most influential predictors of childhood success: a dad.
Thank him. Thank him for his very involvement in your life.
Father’s Day Isn’t Just for Dads
It’s hard to live life and be completely free of hurt and hardship, regardless of where your father lived.
I mostly grew up without my dad in the picture, but I’m happy to report that I didn’t become a statistic. I credit the men who invested in me. Men like my grandfather, my coaches and to some degree my father.
This Father’s Day, take the time to thank your significant “father-like” figure for all the good he did, or tried to do in your life. How he protected you and helped you live a life full of freedom and possibilities.
Strong, positive male mentors can help children overcome the hurt, loss and negative social consequences of an absent father.
But if your “father” is only a source of suffering and heartache, it’s hard to celebrate on Father’s Day.
Even still, there’s a silver lining.
Transforming the Hurt of a Father
The scars caused by fathers can sometimes be a heavy burden to carry.
For many, having their father around didn’t stop the hurt. Or, maybe the “father” you lived with was the source of your pain. Others only know the emotional longing for a father.
But, Father’s Day is not just about fathers. It’s about my life and your life and celebrating who we’ve become, either because of our dads, or in spite of them.
Every relationship teaches us something. Beyond the hurt and emotional pain are life lessons that can help transform us, if we let them.
We can become better than that which has scarred us.
Here’s how I’ve transformed my hurt to become a better, stronger person. You can, too!
1. Turn pain into motivation.
The mantra: “I’m never going to be like…”
Allow the memory of the pain to help you sculpt a life where you strive to be different. Better. A life where your family, your life, your children experience the life you always dreamed of.
Become everything you wished you’d had in a father. His legacy and memory, although painful, is the motivation you need to transform your life.
2. Turn longing into positive energy.
The longing comes from the absence. The wondering of what things might have been like.
Relationships only mature when they are experienced…together. A disinterested or absent father typically makes creating future positive relationships more difficult.
Nurture the relationships in your life that you missed growing up. Invest in the children in your life.
Draw energy from the hurt to build connections with others that can give you the support, attention, encouragement and love you missed as a child.
3. Turn the past into the future.
We can’t go back!
But you and I can use the memory of the past to transform our future.
Our memories allow us to learn, grow, and change. They allow us to be different than what we have experienced before.
No matter your past relationship with your father, you can have a future that is what you make of it. It comes down to a simple choice.
Either allow your past to dictate your future or use your past to transform your future.
Grab a card and let your father, mentor or role model know the power that his life had in making a difference in yours.
But even if there isn’t a father-figure to thank for his influence in your life, you can still be that blessing to someone else.
One day, they’ll be thanking you for it.
Flickr creative commons image courtesy of Katie Tegtmeyer.