Happy Father’s Day to all Dads!
For my friend, Sam, the one with the tropical fish who shared the reminder, “don’t let other people live rent free in your head” (you can read that here), it’s a bittersweet day.
He’s the father of three kids but he’s divorced from their mother. Which means he knows there’s been a lot of ish said about him by his ex-wife. He does the best he can with all his kids but he understands that they have taken their mother’s side against him.
Most children mirror the feelings of their primary caretaker. They accept the mother’s reality as the reality. They stay in denial about an outside reality while they are tied in with their mother. In order for them to see their own truth, they have to detach and see things differently. This sometimes means (to them) a betrayal. If the mother demands their unquestioned loyalty, they cannot go against her.
Every year, Sam waits for a Father’s Day card that will have the words, “To the Very Best Dad in the World.” He really would like his kids to tell him that but they can’t right now. He has to accept that.
Sam has tried with his kids. He’s no deadbeat Dad. I’ve seen him in action: he’s generous, caring, sensitive and goes out of his way for them. In fact, sometimes he goes overboard, running after their approval when they just can’t give it to him.
Today Sam will have to take what he can get and accept it. He said he’s going not to wish for people to tell him what he thinks he needs. He wants to feel content with the way things are, not the way he thinks they should be.
“I can’t keep apologizing to them for what happened between their Mom and me,” Sam told me. “I’m going to worry less about being the best Dad in the world and worry more about just being the best me I can be.”
Part of living our best chapter means not waiting for others to approve of us. We have to make do with what they can give us. We can’t keep obsessing on getting someone else to give us the Very Best ___ Award and instead focus on giving the Very Best Me I Can Be Award to ourselves.
For further reading, there’s a fascinating look at a conflicted father of an autistic son here – his son can never say those words we sometimes long to hear.