I just finished watching “Trouble with the Curve.” What an awesome movie – if you haven’t seen it, you definitely should. As the story developed, I was struck AGAIN by the ever-present issue of children not being whole because their fathers weren’t there for them. All the daughter in this movie solely craved was to be wanted by her father, to hear him say that he loved her. All her father lacked was the ability to talk to his daughter, to transparently share his feelings and tell her the whole story. It didn’t matter that there was more to the story that he was concealing – there was an apparent good reason for his absence. She didn’t know the reasons, so in her mind his absence was complete and outright rejection. Nothing she ever achieved, no matter how grandeur or impressive, was satisfying to her because he wasn’t there when she needed him (whether emotionally or physically) and he never expressed those valuable words – “I love you,” “I’m proud of you.” He might have communicated it to everyone else, but he didn’t voice it to her. Yes, this is the story line in a movie, but I hear it over and over again as I interact with people along my journey – this is a true and present reality for so many of us today. I talk about working through this more in my book, but I have struggled through the same issues all of my life because my father never said those words to me. No matter how hard I worked for him, no matter how successful his company became under my direction, he never verbalized those words. As if almost by saying them I would stop being as diligent with my efforts. Now, my dad is not a bad guy at all – he’s got other amazing traits. I don’t know what issues he has struggled with that have kept him from declaring his pride to me directly, to transparently talk with me and work to have a relationship with me. I’ve been told that he has expressed his pride in me to others, but it doesn’t really matter. At almost 52 years of age, I really still yearn to hear my father say just once that he’s proud of me and the work that I accomplished as well as the man I have become.
Yeah, I know….. just get over it, right? Just be a man and suck it up. Just have confidence in yourself. Or as a Christ-follower, just lay it all at God’s feet. Forgive and forget. Nice platitudes. But the fact remains – I, like millions of other approval seeking children, have a void. Yes, God can and will fill it. He proves himself the Father to me every day, but the reality is that each generation that doesn’t hear those words of approval from their father does undoubtedly suffer. Now more than ever, it is imperative that fathers step up to the plate and start being what God intended them to be – emotionally and physically present for their children, involved with their children, in open dialogue with their children, and in close relationship with their children – whether you’re a single dad, only having the kids part of the week or are in a solid marriage where you’re in the home every day. Children hearing the words “I love you” and “I’m proud of you,” especially from their fathers, is essential for the next generation to be healthy. It is essential for the generation after that and after that and so on and so on.
You see, we leave a legacy whether we realize it or not. I’m not talking about money or wealth. I’m taking about something far more important. It will either be one with long-lasting negative effects or one with confidence building positive effects. The choice is up to us as dads. And if your kids are grown and gone, it’s not too late. Make that stand today – pick up the phone and shower them with words of praise and adoration. That is really all they are waiting to hear.
About the Author: John Tracy Wilson, Author – “Of Life, Love and Family” www.johntracywilson.com