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Is ‘fatherlessness’ really a problem?

I speak to a lot of people about the fact that their parent’s got divorced or that their dad bailed on them and a lot of those people say that they aren’t affected by it and never have been. I can’t say that they are all lying, but in my experience most of them are guilty of creating the fact that they are okay with it all. I find myself wanting to ask, ‘Are you trying to convince me or convince yourself?’ when they’re explaining.

Most people don’t want to seem weak or be vulnerable so they pretend that it’s all good. Or they don’t want to feel the emotions that go along with the experience so they tuck them away and convince themselves that the feelings never even existed to begin with. I did that for a long time. Now I don’t have any form of psychology degree or training so I’m not claiming to be and expert on this stuff, but I do have experience in the area and I can be pretty perceptive even if that is in my own opinion 🙂

The only reason I came to the place where I dealt with my emotions and insecurities caused by my dad being absent is Jesus. I met Him when I was 16 and He convinced me I needed to forgive and move on – and He was right (obviously). I know people who are Christians dealing with this stuff as well as people who are not and in my experience it is mostly the people who know Jesus who even get to the point of admitting that there’s a problem. And even a lot of them don’t. The point here is that people from all walks of life are affected by this problem yet only some are willing to deal with the effects. Many are quick to be angry with their fathers and say bad things about them, but few are willing to admit that they are emotionally affected even though it’s made blatantly obvious by the things that they say.

Christians know fatherlessness is a problem. As a christian you eventually come to a place where you realize you need to deal with your daddy issues. Why is that? Well, it’s painfully obvious that you have a problem with your earthly father when you find it impossible to relate to God as a father. And if you can’t relate to God as a father (a real father) then you can’t grow beyond a certain point as a Christian. You become stagnant and suspicious of God because you find it hard to believe the promises that He’s made. You then find yourself in an awkward position – you have given your life to God and you know that you love Him, but you feel you can’t trust Him to care for you and keep His promises. You know His promises in your mind, but don’t believe them in your heart and you find that you can easily trust God to come through for other people, but not for you. All of this forces you to the point where you have to decide: “Am I going to stay in this frustrating and awkward position forever, am I going to end my relationship with God or am I going to deal with the root of all the things that are holding me back from getting closer to Him?”

It’s at this point that you realize that forgiving your earthly father is the only way forward and in a lot of instances reconciliation is necessary too. The problem is that you naturally want to hold onto the anger that’s in your heart and forgiveness and reconciliation are the last things you want. I started my relationship with God when I was 16 and by only a little less than one year in I knew that I needed to confront my dad, forgive him and try to repair the relationship from my side no matter his reaction (and my dad’s reaction wasn’t good, but I’ll leave that for another day). It took me 8 years from first knowing what I needed to do to actually getting to the point where I did it. 8 years! That’s a lot of issues. In those 8 years God consistently showed me that He was backing me and encouraged me to speak to my dad about how I felt, but my suspicion and mistrust towards Him continued – the roots were deep! There are still remnants and things that I have to deal with today, but I’ve come a very long way.

Let me share one story of God’s commitment to proving to me that He loves me and that He is the ultimate Father. One night I was at a Bible study at a friend’s house and the topic of conversation was the Father-heart of God. Almost all of my Christian friends have good dads and stable families and I remember them sharing stories of things their dads did that helped them to see God as a father. I had pretty much nothing to say that night and all I could think about was how I just couldn’t relate to a single thing that was being said. Even the stories about uncool things people’s dads had done were foreign to me because I just thought that they were all lucky that their dads were even around to make mistakes – that seemed better to me than not having a dad around at all (I’m obviously talking about minor things these dads had done. I realise that there are things that some dads do that would make it better if they weren’t around). I left the Bible study feeling pretty terrible and feeling like I could never really know God because I had such a poor picture of what a father is.

At that time I was still in HIgh School and there was a bodyboard that I really wanted to get and the one I currently had had seen better days. The board was R1500 ($150 US), I definitely had no money and my mom already worked 3 jobs just to pay for the house and to provide food and clothes for my sister and I so I knew that she didn’t have money to buy me a new board. Sometime the next day I went into my room and prayed and it went something like this: “Lord, last night was really hard. All those guys know how to trust you because they have good dads, but I have no idea what you are like. I want to know what you are like and know you as my Father. If you really are my Father please get me a new bodyboard. I really like the Morey Spencer Skipper at Pollock’s Sports (I’m sure there was more to the prayer, but that is the gist of it)”. I think I should add here that I wasn’t trying to get something from God by twisting His arm (trust me when I say that that doesn’t work), but rather my reasoning was that I felt that if I had a son who loved a sport and really needed new equipment I would buy him what he needed so surely if God was a better father than I could ever be then He would do the same. My motives were good and I really was more concerned about my relationship with Him than I was about getting a new board.

Anyway, about half an hour later I got a call from my aunt asking if she could pick me up in an hour. It was a Saturday and my uncle and aunt owned a big supermarket so I assumed they needed help in the store so I said yes. My aunt arrived later, I got in the car and we were on our way, but she wasn’t driving towards their store. A few minutes later we arrived at Pollock’s Sports and she told me to go in and choose any board I wanted! I had never mentioned to them that I needed a new board and I don’t think my mom would have told them. I was flippin amazed! God pulled through for me big time! He showed me that He really cared for me as a Father and He gave me the exact board that I really wanted. He even gave me good waves to ride it on later that day, but that’s a story for later.

He really is the ultimate Father.

For those who aren’t Christians it seems much more rare and difficult that they come to the realisation that they have a problem that needs fixing. Anger is a much easier outlet for pain and rejection than forgiveness is. As I said earlier, most people deny that there even is a problem, but the evidence that all sorts of people are hurting is everywhere. It’s in the stories we read, the movies we watch and the music we listen to.

Check out the song “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin (made famous by Ugly Kid Joe) – it portrays what happens when a father is absent to an extent, but not completely. The mess caused by a more seriously absent father is portrayed in the Kelly Clarkson song “Because Of You”. She sings about some pretty serious emotional issues in that one. Another song worth checking out is “The Saddest Song” by The Ataris.

Also take a look at the film “Life As A House” which is the story of a pretty rocky father-son relationship and how they come to the point of reconciliation. I’m not really into dramas, but this one is worth a watch in my opinion.

My point is that fatherlessness is rife in our generation and it’s on the increase with every new generation as the cycle perpetuates. Society is suffering at the hands of absent fathers. The statistics are shocking (most that I can find are for the USA and some for Australia) and I will share a whole bunch of them with you in a later post, but here are some crackers in the meantime:

High School Dropouts. 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)

Delinquency. Only 13 percent of juvenile delinquents come from families in which the biological mother and father are married to each other. By contrast, 33 percent have parents who are either divorced or separated and 44 percent have parents who were never married. (Wisconsin Dept. of Health and Social Services, April 1994).

I hope that if you have some unresolved issues with your father and you somehow find yourself reading this post that you will have recieved the encouragement and courage to admit that you need to forgive and to contact your dad and have a chat with him. Be advised though that it didn’t go well for me when I did it so try to remember that you’re doing for you and that you can only control your actions, not his. I stuck to my decision to forgive and I’m still sticking to it today – it’s the only way forward and the only way to be free! If you have any questions or have something you’d like to say please feel free to leave a comment or contact me and will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can.

Thank you for reading!

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