Reflections on Father’s Day

by Louis McBurney, M.D., Marble Retreat Founder

Father and sonI’m writing this the day before Father’s Day. This special day provides a powerful reminder of the importance of fatherhood. Group after group we hear most stories describing emotionally or physically absent dads. The impact of the absence is consistently destructive. That ranges from sexual identity disorders to marital adjustment problems. Often the key to spiritual and emotional healing is resolution of conflict in that primary relationship.

This Father’s Day I’m thinking of the importance for you dads (and moms) to become aware of how you’re affecting your children’s self-concept. I’d like to share just three areas for your focus.

The first is expressing physical affection. Not only do kids need affection to feel accepted and loved, but they also model their adult behavior from those early hugs. Many individuals remain physically isolated and affectionately cold from what they failed to receive from dad. So this year determine to touch your sons and daughters no matter how old they are!

The second crucial ingredient is verbal approval and praise. Many people will tearfully confess that they never heard their dad say, “I love you.” There is a deep wound carved out by that loss. You have the power to reverse that deep sense of rejection by giving that simple blessing: “I love you.” That’s a life changing gift you can give your children today. Look into their eyes and tell them you love them and are proud to be their dad or call them (or even e-mail right now!) with your blessing.

Finally, and probably most difficult, is for dads to learn to express their emotions. Being willing to laugh and cry and talk about grief or anger provides a balance that enhances each person’s development. Most people report having never seen their father cry or describe any emotion. Maybe they see an explosive temper, but not other emotions. So try to say what you’re feeling – maybe simply the delight of your Father’s Day cards.

Be thankful this Father’s Day that you can still become the kind of dad that brings health to your heirs.