By Dr Mike Ghouse*
Father’s Day is a great tradition to celebrate and honor the father. However, it is also a stressful day for many people. I feel the joy and the pain of both groups, here are some thoughts about each group.
First of all, my heart goes out to those who did not have a good relationship between father and children.
Secondly, I am grateful to my father, my role model, and a perfect father that everyone wishes to have. I am happy to see my son has become a good father to his three kids, and I Share the joy of all those who were/are blessed with a good father.
One of my friends, a senior citizen, would always call on me to take him to the hospital, or the temple while he had two sons who did not have time for him. Perhaps, I was one of the few people with whom he shared his pain. He was going to write a book about it, but I advised him to find freedom in forgiving them. When he had a heart attack, everyone thought he would be gone. I pulled his son aside in the hospital and asked him to seek forgiveness from his father for specific situations he felt abused; obviously, he did not like it. I wish people learn to tie the loose ends of life and live with a clean slate.
I also know some adults who have endured their abusive fathers and have abandoned them. In one case, the girl in the family was touched inappropriately, and the boys were continuously screamed at, belittled, and even beaten up several times. What a shame! People miss out on the pleasure of respectful relationships.
Despite their abusive fathers, they have survived, and have determined to break the cycle and treat their kids well. Father’s Day is stressful for them, while others cherish their fathers; they struggle with mixed feelings of hate and the natural desire to have a father’s affection. It’s not easy, and there is no quick fix to it, other than reflecting on it and taking the responsibility to live a healthy life.
If you are the father, get over your arrogance; it keeps you from receiving the affection your kids want to give you. Seek forgiveness from your children for your shortcomings and promise them you would treat them as adults with dignity and respect. You can always restore life if you can shed the arrogance. Before you die, clean your slate and go in peace with your family around you.
And if you are the kid, I urge you to make a sincere effort in forgiving your father; it releases you from the pain, not forgiving him keeps you in eternal resentment and grief, and takes away your moments of joy from your life. You can be a good parent to your kids or be a big brother or a friend to others and fulfill what is missing in your life.
I urge the father to make the first move as he has made life miserable for everyone. Gratitude, repentance, and forgiveness are the essential elements in restoring one’s life and sustaining one’s tranquility and happiness. I wish people learn to tie the loose ends of life and live with a clean slate.
My father treated all of us kids with dignity, and I am pleased I got to be disciplined at least once in my life. I guess I replicated that with my children to the point my kids would say, Dad, you should have taught us. I did not see the need for it. I gave them the cold shoulder that my father had given me to straighten me out, and it worked.
I was about ten years old and watched a man fall off his bicycle with his rice bag and was struggling to get back on it, and I wasn’t going to help him. Instead, I was laughing at him. I saw my father about 100 feet away, and the way he sped towards me got me frightened for the first time, I dashed inside the home, and a few minutes later after helping the guy, he came in looking for me. I climbed on top of the paddy bags in the corner of the house, and I thought he could not get me there. He went outside, plucked a long branch off the mulberry tree, and gave me a few good ones. “My son will never do that” after that conditioning, I have developed the habit of stopping for everyone who needs help.
What a joy it is when you do small things for others.
To those who have not had a father or had a negative experience, God has offered guidance through the instrument of forgiveness to release you from the pain. Just do it. I will be happy to be a big brother or even a father figure at the moment of your need. It’s an open offer to call me at (214) 325-1916, let’s keep it to 5 minutes. I have been doing this for the last 25 years, and I usually get a few calls, and I feel good about giving a shoulder to someone in need.
God bless us all, Happy Father’s Day.
*Director, Centre for Pluralism, Washington DC