Sins of the Father

okY8zOuI’m a daddy’s girl through and through. There is no denying that. My good relationship with him has definitely shaped my life. However, I recognize that everyone is not a daddy’s child. Some don’t even have a relationship with the man. This too shapes their lives. It’s never a good thing to be estranged from any parent, and doing so comes with its own set of challenges. However, I’ve observed that damaged relationships with fathers seem to have a deeper, more painful, and more emotional effect on a person than a broken relationship with mothers. You can see it in the lack of fanfare on father’s day compared to mother’s day. When fathers sin, the effects are long-lasting and severe, and I’ve been trying to figure out why. For the hypothesis I’m about to present, I had to go back–way back–to the beginnings of human civilization. I cannot begin to think about how this works without thinking about the Father.

Back in the days of the Old Testament, when a man messed up–or was responsible for a mess up–there was a good chance that he would be cursed by God. Oftentimes, these curses would extend over many generations. If that doesn’t tell you anything, it should tell you the seriousness of a man’s place in the world–God does not play. Now, in today’s times, God doesn’t speak to us through burning bushes, thunder in the mountains, or even through the voice of one man. I’m not even sure if God is still in the grand scale cursing business, but is he? I wonder sometimes. If you’ve ever spent any length of time in church, I’m quite sure you’ve heard the term “generational curses” before. If you’re unfamiliar with this, simply put, it’s a term that refers to the seemingly endless cycle of imprudent behavior. For example, many seem to think that alcoholism runs in their family. Daddy was a drunk, his daddy was a drunk, his daddy was a drunk and so on and so on. I’m no expert on this type of thing, and I’m not even going to begin to explore where this comes from. It’s not my point. I mention it only to emphasize my point:  when men mess up, things happen.

I’m a daddy’s girl. I love my father. But, he is not without his own sins. I have a half-sister who is 17 years older than me. Her mother and my father were never technically together, so she has always only had my father part-time. My father met my mother, and they got married. My father and my sister’s contact slowed down. Then, I was born. Then, my brother arrived. Then, we moved away. Because my father is not good at keeping in touch, and other reasons which are not up for public discussion, their relationship stalled. She felt abandoned and rightfully so. The loss of a father in a young lady’s life is treacherous. The loss of a father in a young man’s life is treacherous. But, why?

Here is what I think.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…and birds, bears, bugs, and all other wonderfully disgusting things. 🙂 Then he created a man to manage everything he made. Men have an innate authority given to them by God. Knowing this, it’s no wonder why God would be upset when men usurp and abuse that power. It also shows me why it cuts so deep when that authority is missing. They say that a major reason why there is so much crime and disorder in low-income areas is because, statistically speaking, there is a higher number of homes without fathers there. I’m not here to say that’s true or not, but I could see how that could be a contributing factor. It’s almost like when a man is in his house doing what he should, everyone’s compass points north. But, when he messes up, or leaves, the compasses begin to spin trying to find north again. Like a compass needs to find north, we need our fathers whether we care to admit it or not.

When our fathers are absent, we begin to search for substitutes. No one likes to feel off-kilter. We need that compass to point north. For some women, that means trying to find another man who feels like north. Men do it too, but they’re not trying to find north; They’re trying to be north to someone else. It’s not impossible to do as there are many excellent fathers out there whose compasses did not point north. It can be done, but it’s much easier to do when you’ve seen it done correctly before or had good instructions.

So…

What do we do?

I don’t know.

Today is father’s day in America. I would love it if everyone reached out to dad just to say the words “happy father’s day,” but I know that’s not going to happen. I know those words and the thought of those words bring a lot of us a lot of pain. That is something only time and prayer can heal. But, when it comes down to it, everyone has a father and no one would be here without him. I know a lot of people who have never had a relationship with their fathers and refer to him as “the sperm donor.” It’s usually said in jest, but I know there is a lot of emotion behind those jokes. No matter the circumstance of your birth, your parents relationship, or whatever, you exist! You couldn’t exist without your father, and I doubt people will deny their own existence. So, if the only reason you acknowledge the man today is for giving you life…ok! That is something. I hope you decide to do at least that.

Happy father’s day to all the men out there reading this who are fathers, soon-to-be-fathers, and want to be fathers (not “wanna be” fathers 🙂 ). To all of the men out there who are not fathers but are father figures to someone, I extend to you the same greeting. Yes, it takes having offspring to earn the title “father,” but being a father is so much more than going about spreading seed. What you’re doing in someone else’s life speaks volumes and makes their compass point north. Thank you!

To the crappy fathers, do better. To the excellent fathers, keep doing what you’re doing. To those who have buried your father, I hope today isn’t painful. I hope you will spend today reminiscing on good times and happy memories.

Have a happy father’s day!

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17 thoughts on “Sins of the Father”

  • Wow just wow. I’m not a religious person but I loved reading this post. I have an ok relationship with my dad. It’s not the greatest but we are working on. I wish him a happy father’s day every year. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on the subject.

    • Oh yay! I’m really glad you liked it 🙂 I was hoping the spiritual parts wouldn’t be off-putting. It’s good that you’re working on it! Some people aren’t even willing to try.

      • I’m willing to try. I know my dad has issues and I know why too. So we are working on our relationship together. Actually I have a writer’s thought’s post coming today that gives a little more detail about it.

          • Both of us were raised in an abusive home and raised by the same person. His was a far worse experience than mine. He had a lot of issues to deal with because of that. Also that why he had issues with drugs and a alcoholic Trying to forget the past. He is doing much better now. He is sober and Clean and we are working on a better relationship. actually the post is up now. 🙂

  • I’m not a religious person, but this was a fantastic post.
    You asked why you think not having a father messes someone up, here’s what I always believed: Fathers are supposed to protect their young to preserve their family line…it’s a primal and basic instinct. Without dad, the young instinctively feel abandoned and vulnerable. It’s the DNA that has insured the survival of us.

    Thinking about it now…I acted different when my dad was deployed overseas, I was less happy and always listened to my mom compared to never listening to her. I guess it was instinct since she was my sole protector.
    I used to be a daddy’s girl. I’m not so close to him anymore (we’re both bipolar…we tend to butt heads when we’re together.) But I love him…he showed me that not all men are always assholes, and taught me valuable life lessons.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this. You’re right! Fathers are supposed to be there for protection, and when they’re not, we’re left exposed! Anything can infiltrate the family then.

  • I want to hug you so much. This post spoke many more words to me that are on the actual post!
    I did grow up with my father, but I was definitely closer with my mother due to my dad secluding himself from my family. Then my mom and dad fought and my dad left, he returned to town three months later and bought an apartment, which was awesome. Although, last year in July, something happened which tore mine and my father’s relationship apart and I can not bare to see him again. I know he’s alive, but I don’t want to talk to him.
    But, from reading this post I know that there’s someone looking out for me, may it be God, my mom or even someone I look up to as a father. I don’t need my actual father, because I have all the love I need. And, I want to be a better rather than my father ever was, because they deserve a happy life!
    So, Happy Father’s Day, because it’s a day to celebrate the ones who you love and cherish 🙂

    I really made this long didn’t I?

    • You know I love the long ones! 🙂 Sorry to hear things aren’t right between you. Hopefully one day you two can talk, but it sounds like the wounds are too fresh right now. But yay for feeling loved and cared for by others! Some people don’t have that, so it’s really a blessing.

  • I loved this post. I left my severly abusive mother 2 years ago. My birth father left when I was born and my step-father was abusive as well. (I stopped contact with him last week.) My grandmother, whom I considered my mother, passed away of pancreatic cancer in April. I’ve never liked the holidays where we celebrate parents because it’s a reminder of what I had to endure. Thank you for this insightful post. It brought comfort.

  • I loved your post, too. I loved the JudeoChristian references for they’re such an integral part of our culture and our cultural consciousness. My own dad passed away over a decade ago, and he’d been around long enough to see me become a successful and happy adult. Though I’ve missed him so, it’s a gift to have had him that long. For girls who lose their dads earlier, through death or other reasons, there’s a big hole that’s hard to fill.

  • Ah, dear friend….you know where I sit with this–

    Or maybe not. But yes. There’s something so primal about the masculine and what it brings with it (or without). We talked extensively about the struggles in both of our lives with our dads (or siblings and dads) and how it has deeply effected who we are. I think you’re very correct on the role of fathers throughout time and history.
    Ugh…I could go on about this, but it’s not really worth it. What I will say is thank you for this offering and for making space for this. I think it’s important and necessary. Great work and great writing.

  • I’m coming to this discussion late, but I totally agree with what you said about fatherless homes being a contributing factor to crime and unrest. Not having a father, or having a father who is physically or emotionally abusive has such a profound affect on children that it lasts them the rest of their lives.
    Girls will jump from partner to partner, never feeling satisfied because they are looking for the father they never had. Or maybe they settle into an abusive relationship because they don’t feel worthy of anything better. If their own father didn’t treat them well, why should any other man?
    Boys are likely to imitate their father’s behavior by becoming abusers or by abandoning their families too, and the cycle starts all over again. I think that having a poor example for a father is why some men turn to other men as romantic partners. They are still looking for the love and validation that they never received from their fathers and are hoping to find it in another man.

    Great post…great discussion!

    • Whoa! I have never considered this as being a potential reason for a man to love another man. That’s good stuff, Megan! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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