3 Ways I Began To Repair My Relationship With My Absent Father
I don’t remember when my mother and father decided to call it quits, but I do remember that for a long time it was just my mother, brothers and I. My father and I have a very unique relationship because I never hated him. I always loved him and I still do, but we would go years without seeing or speaking to one another. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that this wasn’t normal. After a while I became indifferent about the situation all together. My brothers, on the other hand, had more of a harsh feeling towards him. I can understand why because he left when they were too young to even retain any memory of him . At least I have two or three of those. It wasn’t until the end of last year that I started talking to my father at least once a month on a personal decision from me. It was hard at first because we really didn’t know what to talk about or how to talk to each other, but doing these three things helped us get to where we are today.
I learned from him – Now there isn’t much that he could teach me being thousands of miles away, but he taught me one of the most underrated lessons you could ever teach someone. He taught me what “not” to do as a father. I recently became a father seven weeks ago and I couldn’t imagine a day without my son. Even if me and my son’s mother couldn’t find a way to stay together, I would make it a priority to stay in his life. My dad didn’t do that. It was a tough lesson to learn, but now that I’m in his position I know the effects of what not being in your child’s life can have. So for lack of better words, whatever he did, I’m doing the opposite. Now it’s more to being a good father than just learning from someone else’s mistakes, but it is good starting point.
I forgave him – Again, I never really have any malice towards my dad. I was always indifferent about him and his decisions. But the fact is, he hurt some people who are close to me. My mom, my grandmother, my brothers, and even me at some points. I will never forget this one rare time that we got to visit him in Philadelphia. We were living in Atlanta at the time so we drove 16 hours to see him and other family and friends. It was the week before a new school year was to start so I was excited to get this moment with him because I didn’t know when this would come again.
My brothers and I see our dad and we’re happy, but it didn’t really turn out the way we thought it would. The highlight of the trip was my uncle, my dad’s brother, taking me and my brothers out to buy three brand new outfits and giving us all $100 a piece. You would think this was front page news because my mom talked about this the whole car ride home. And she had a point. A man that we met just as many times as my dad had done more for us in three hours than my dad done for us our whole lives. If you ask me, I think this was the moment my brothers gave up on him. I didn’t know what to say so I just let it go. Years had passed by before I seen him again and I had made a conscious decision to let any expectations go. This was my father. I know he loved me and I loved him, but if we were going to continue any type of relationship, I was going to have to start from scratch and approach ita different way. So I did just that and the amount of pressure that was lifted gave us a clear view of where we stood and how we should move on from there.
We found our niche – When I decided to start talking to my father on the regular basis, I was twenty-six years old. The main reason for this was he was becoming a grandfather. And I also wanted to get closer to family on both sides. Now, when you talk to someone every few years, you could easily converse for hours. It’s a lot harder trying to do that every month. I was too old to have those regular father-son talks. He couldn’t give me advice because I had already lived my life and I had nothing interesting to ask him. On the other end, I was too young to relate to what was going in his life at the moment so a lot of our conversation would be repetitive. It wasn’t until we found our niche that things became a lot easier. And that niche was sports. My dad is a sports fanatic. It doesn’t matter what sport it is or what level, he could tell what you anything you wanted to know. It got to the point where the conversation would literally begin with sports. Of course the customary “Hello” and “How’s the family?” was asked. But soon after it was straight to sports. It’s amazing how talking about sports opened up a variety of topics from: relationships, careers, love, teamwork, traveling, ect. I had never seen him talk about anything so passionately and for those few hours that we talked, he was the father and I was the son. Our relationship had come full circle.
My father and I still talk once a month as planned and I want him to be a part of his grandson’s life as much as he wants. Let’s be clear, I never needed my dad for validation, but it’s nice to have that door open and ready to walk through whenever I want to. Some people never forgive their parents after being absent in their life and that’s their choice. But for me to be mentally and spiritually free I had to apply these steps in order to go on with my life. Good luck to those of you trying to find your niche with your absent father. And Happy Father’s Day!
Author: Ty Mitchell
I write books and help writers get through their literary journey. I am the author of The Color of Love. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity. Follow me on Twitter @Ty_Mitchell or on Facebook @the-vpf.