Much has been said about the “Father Wound.” That is, the effect a poor relationship with Dad can have on a person’s future. On the one hand, I can say without hesitation it’s all true. If there is one single element, I’ve found in common among those I’ve counseled, it’s the “Father Wound.” And yet, now that I’m facing the challenges inherent in fathering a son, I’m painfully aware of the other side of the story.
It was so easy to talk about what fathers should or shouldn’t be. I was new to the game, the proud stepfather of a lovably energetic five-year-old boy. Huge mistakes, mostly mine, hadn’t yet been made. His adolescence was years off, so our days were playful, and I was his hero. No wonder it was so easy for me to look critically at older fathers. I was determined never to become one.
Since then, the boy I loved has become the man who’s forgiven me. We jumped into the power struggles every relationship is doomed to, and I careened from rigid strictness to cold fury to indifference, depending on the battle. We weathered some tough years, re-bonded, and today I couldn’t be prouder of him, or of us, when I see the outcome.
But happy ending or not, I know there are things I said and did to him that were damaging. They’ll affect him and the way he sees life. I know, too, that what I didn’t say or do, and should have said or done, can’t be compensated for. In short, I understand more than ever how difficulties between fathers and sons come about.
And more than ever, while I stress the need to examine our wounds and deal with whatever anger we may have towards Dad, I also see and stress the need for a forgiving heart.
There’s a time for anger, and I’ll wager you’ve been reluctant to recognize yours. I remember the first time I admitted to myself how enraged I was with my own father, and how childish I felt. But it was a crucial beginning. Dad is that enormous figure assigned to us who will, for better or worse, affect us more profoundly than anyone else. So, your relationship with him may well play into what you’re dealing with now, including anger. “Be angry, and sin not,” Paul advised. (Ephesians 4:26, NKJV) It’s allowed.
Then, in time, let it go. Because as surely as you need to express and resolve your anger, there’ll be someone else, someday, who’ll need to do the same towards you.
By Joe Dallas