How to Connect with Your Dad on Father’s Day
On Father’s Day, we tend to feel a lot of pressure to connect with our dads, whether they’ve been present in our lives or not. Deep down, we all want a relationship with our dad; we long for the connection, guiding presence, and love from a real father.
For those who weren’t raised with a present, loving father in their life, these emotions can often be conflicting and complicated. Internally, we are torn between longing for our father and pushing away from the man who hurt us.
This Father’s Day, I want to give you the gift of connection with your dad—whether he is aloof and withdrawn, absent, broken, angry, or present but emotionally absent. We’ll look a little closer at some of the “whys”: Why did my dad leave us? Why couldn’t my dad say “I love you”? Why was dad always too busy to spend time with me?
We’re also going to look at some practical ways that you can reach out and engage your father, no matter what your situation is.
Let’s look at a few different dad ‘archetypes’ to gain some insight into some of the reasons why our dads behaved as they did during our childhood.
He works hard each day, comes home exhausted, and has little to no energy to engage with his kids after work. He loves his kids, but in addition to feeling exhausted at the end of each day, he also feels inadequate as a father.
His father taught him more about work and making a living than building a family or a life with his kids. Thus, he disengages. He lacks the tools to connect and interact with his family. Though he knows his dad loved him, he never heard the words “I love you” and has difficulty saying those words to his children. He doesn’t know how to be present and show his family he loves them.
This dad tends to withdraw to the TV or the garage. He knows that his hobbies in the garage will give him a predictable, reliable response: a completed project that will make him feel good. The TV offers a way of escape in the latest football game or program.
His children are a different story; they are uncharted territory. He’s not sure how to engage with them or what response he will get if he does. He loves his kids but doesn’t know how to show them his love since he never got that from his own father. The very thought of trying to connect overwhelms and frightens him.
He is very young, and has just watched his girlfriend give birth to their first child. It is love at first sight. He cannot believe this small and perfect child came from him and is a part of him.
Somewhere deep within himself, he feels a brave and courageous desire to love, care for, and protect this child and its mother. He is determined to give this child everything he never received from his own father. He will be present for this child. He will provide for this child. This child will never feel alone or afraid.
But a number of months go by and he realizes he has nothing to give this child. The child does not seem to need him in the same physical way that it needs its mother. He feels frustrated that he has no clear path to provide love and protection for this child. He would like to, but he simply doesn’t know how.
He begins to feel lost and uncertain about those early feelings. His own father left his family when he was still a baby himself, and while he has always resented his father for this departure, he begins to feel that it may be easier for everyone if he does the same thing. He doesn’t want to mess this baby up. And so one day he leaves, convincing himself that it’s better for everyone.
He loves his child, but he doesn’t know how to provide, care for, and show love for his family. He never had a father in his own life and has no idea what it means to be a father. He wants to do the right thing, but has no idea how.
Believe it or not, your dad loves you. He wants to connect with you and be in your life in a significant way. The problem is that men can’t give away what they’ve never received from their own father. They lack the tools necessary to build the loving relationship they want with you.
Most of the dads I’ve met already know they’ve hurt their kids. This results in feelings of failure and inadequacy. Years of feeling like a failure as a father will eventually lead to despondency and hopelessness.
So how can we fulfill that deep desire within us to connect with our fathers through understanding their past, while still working through our own hurt and wounds from their behavior?
The answer is two-fold. First, . Second, you need to be willing to share the Father’s love and forgiveness with your dad.
When you understand that all the love and blessing you want can be found in God the Father, then you will be able to share all of the love and blessing with your father—the love and blessing that he never got from his own dad.
Beloved, I don’t want you to underestimate the importance of these two steps. Our world today tells us that in order to forgive, the other party must first ask and want forgiveness. Or the other party must be informed of all the wrongs they’ve committed, so that they know how deep the forgiveness is that you’ve offering.
In both of those situations, the assumption is that you will feel better if the other party is contrite and humbled. Beloved, this is simply not true. While many good things can come from communication, sometimes the best course of action is to simply forgive and let Jesus take all the hurt and pain away.
If you’ve never received the Father’s love and blessing for yourself, I would encourage you to go through our online program, . It will help you work through the hurt that you’ve experienced, and forge a new path of forgiveness into the future.
If you’re ready to forgive and share the Father’s love and forgiveness with your dad, then I have some practical steps for you to connect with your Father in a meaningful way this Father’s Day.
Forgive your dad first
I meet people all the time who are still waiting for their dad to take the first step and reach out to them. The Bible teaches us that Jesus took the first step towards us while we were still stuck in our sins: He died on the cross for us. We don’t forgive because our dads have earned it. We forgive because Jesus did the same thing for us.
“But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.” (Romans 5:8 MSG)
Pre-forgive for future hurt
One thing we tend to forget is that while we are all forgiven, we are all still sinners. Your dad will hurt you again. When we have been hurt and are hurt again, we naturally tend to become reactive. We want to hurt the offending person back.
When I’m situations where I know I might be hurt again by someone, I like to ‘pre-forgive’ them. What I mean by that is that I like to forgive them before I spend time with them.
My prayer goes something like this:
“God, You know that I’m spending time with my dad today. Father, I want to share Your love and blessing with him, but I need You to first fill me with your love and blessing and forgiveness so that I can overcome the past hurt that I’ve experienced. I also want to forgive him for the things he may say and do today that have the potential to hurt me again. Father, please protect my heart and my mind and help me to forgive like You have forgiven me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Ask your dad questions
Asking questions is a great way to open people up and connect with them on a deeper level. Here are some questions that you might ask:
- Dad, what have been the happiest moments in your life so far?
- Dad, is there something that you’ve always wanted to do or experience?
- Dad, how would you like to be remembered?
- Dad, how can I pray for you in this next season of your life?
Tell your dad what you love about him
He has probably waited his entire life for his own father to tell him these things—just like you have probably waited your entire life to hear these things from your dad. What if God the Father wants to use you to bless your dad and give him the blessing he never received from his own father?
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Published on June 6, 2018.