Do you ever sit down and think how time has gone past so fast because just the other day, you were daddy’s little princess, when you looked up to your dad with all the adoration in the world. When daddy was your super hero because he would let you fly high off his shoulders? If you were even fortunate enough, everything you learnt in your early childhood, from riding a bicycle to swimming, you learned from your father.
Then over the years, you have grown up, moved away and seen the world. You’ve learned a lot of things both from experience and Google. You have met Superman (in a costume) and supermen in life. Though your dad will always be your hero, somehow, that once purely innocent relationship you had with him many years ago seems to have been replaced by gauche conversations, short phone calls, and yearly meetings.
Now, father’s day is already here.Truth be told, this can be a somewhat difficult or awkward holiday for many people due to various reasons. For some, it is a painful reminder of a father who passed away or that of a father who walked away. For others, it’s a day to ponder on how a once close-tight relationship with dad deteriorated over time.
Regardless of how difficult and daunting this day may seem to you if your old man is still alive and kicking somewhere in this world, it is never too late to mend that broken relationship or rekindle the bond you once shared. Here are some suggestions to get you start on that journey:
1: Let Go Of The Past
You can spend an entire lifetime carrying grudges and creating regrets. But in the end, what good does it do you? Yes, he did not meet your expectations as a parent; maybe he made too many mistakes in his life, which in turn affected you badly. Well, the truth is, he is not perfect and neither are you. Let go. Get out of that rage-consuming dug-in place you are in, take a bold step and reach out to him.
It’s not going to be easy, it’s actually hard as hell but it’s worth taking a shot.
Also, try to understand why he did the things he did. This is by no means a way to justify any bad behaviors but a closure for you to move away from the past. Depending on the seriousness of the situation that caused a rift between you and your father, you can still have a chance to reconnect and bury the hatchet.
Maybe, he was furious when you dropped out of college to pursue your passion. Maybe he disapproved your choice of partner and now that you are doing well, you resent him for not supporting your dreams. But then again, that’s just part of parenting and eventually, people change over time. Be optimistic, give him the benefit of doubt and find forgiveness from within. It might sound as a cliché but this will be good for your soul.
2: Revisit His Background
You know those ‘African’ tales’ that every father seems to always tell his children? Like how he walked to school bare feet for 4 km and still topped his class? Or how they ate wild fruits because there was nothing like a saucy pizza or burger during their time? How silly those stories always seem, like mere fictional tales right?
Well, it’s hard enough to imagine your father as a small boy, with patched shorts, walking with no shoes to this ‘4 kms’ school. Because by the time you met your father, he was a made-man. Not entirely in terms of material possession but he certainly had shoes on and with that tiny pot belly peeking out, there is no way he could walk for 4 kms!! Nevertheless, take a moment to think about what it was like for him growing up as a child? Did he have an easy- going life or a tough one?
Take time to reflect on his struggles and how he became the man that he is today. Our backgrounds influence who we become in future to some extent. It’s easy to sideline fathers because they are men, although if you really get to know him well, know his background and how he was raised, you will learn to appreciate him even more.
3: Find His Kind of Love
Some men in our fathers’ generation were raised in a strict parent-child environment. The idea that fathers were supposed to maintain a strict parental relationship with their children may have affected a lack of show of affection in most fathers, especially towards their daughters. For some fathers, hugs and kisses freak them out completely, they would so much prefer a handshake and it’s a wrap.
So, consider how your father was raised, what was the relationship between him and his father like and how did he express himself when he was growing up.By doing so, you will be able to understand his kind of love and affection. He might not hug you in public like you see in the movies but that doesn’t mean he loves you any less.
Different men express emotions differently. Find out what he is really comfortable with and just go with it. A majority of fathers are more inclined to show love in a practical way rather than through emotions. You could ask for his advice on taking a life insurance, how to deal with that horrible boss at work or let him help you fix your car’s engine. In all this, you need to see that no matter how different he is, your Daddy will always be your hero.
4: Spend Quality Time With Him
When they said adulthood is fun, well they lied to all of us. We just found out that in between living with strangers in new neighborhoods to working crazy shifts and evening classes, there is also tons of bills to pay, friends, a life partner to cater to and perhaps children, who take up the little life you had left. Sometimes, the world just seems to get crazier by the day, and it is already a year or two since you last saw your Paps. All you have is those few moments when you call home once in a while to check on everyone.
While your world seems to be on a rollercoaster, your father might be making things even worse than they could be. Every time you call him, his first instinct is to assume there is a problem and when you are done assuring him that you are well, he quickly passes the phone to your mother, whom (God bless our mothers) always finds something to talk about. It’s believed that men generally talk less and keeping your father on the phone for more than 5 minutes may seem harder than winning a marathon.
While psychologists suggest that as much as fathers and daughters have a uniquely strong bond, mothers have more common things to share with their daughters. Consequently, your old man may easily feel that he has nothing much to contribute to a conversation. Therefore, it’s up to you as a child to rekindle that connection keeps the conversation moving.
Generally, most men find it hard to hold a phone conversation and prefer face to face communication. Take time to visit your father, not necessarily just during family gatherings. Make time for him, take a weekend off to help him with his farming, taking him to a football match or give him a ride to his favorite chill spot. In short, find out what makes him tick and move the conversation from ‘How are you doing?’ to ‘What have you been up to lately?’. You would be amazed at how quickly he will be willing to open up to you and you will both feel special.
5: Take Advantage of your new family
At an older age, many parents do not wish for much in terms of material possession. Very few things bring joy to their hearts and grandchildren most certainly top that list. The fact that you have provided your father with a continuation of his lineage, grandchildren also bring about fond memories and emotions to when you were a little baby. Take advantage of this moment to re-engage with your old man about your own childhood.
And even if you don’t have children yet, introducing your life partner may also be a great chance to reconnect with your dad. Find a common ground for the two of them, be it soccer, automobiles, or Sunday afternoon barbecues. Unless your dad feels uncomfortable, this is a sure way to a better relationship with your father in future.