I have mentioned in previous posts that one of the contributors to my grumpiness is the guilt I have from what I view as failures in my parenting. I lay awake at night and dwell on the moments I lost my temper with the kids and said something I regret, or the opportunities I missed to spend quality time with the kids. Probably the biggest thing that occupies my thoughts is the fear of doing irreversible damage to my relationship with my kids. I am so afraid that I will do or say something, or NOT do or say something, that will turn my kids away from me for good. I have this fear that my failures as a father will cause my kids to turn away from their Faith and the family, and harbor a lifetime of hurt. I am sure all parents experience the same thing, but that fact doesn’t soothe me.
When I share these thoughts with my wife, she reassures me that I am a great father and that our kids love me. She’s honest with me about my shortcomings, but always has a list of good things that I do as a father. This always helps me, but usually only temporarily. Why am I so hard on myself? Why can I trust every other worry in my life to God’s plan and grace, but feel that my fatherly failures are an exception to His mercy?
I’ve done a lot of prayer on this and even some counseling. I think the root of it is the raw pain I still have from my own parents’ failures, especially my own father’s. A lot of what I say and do are reminiscent of my father, and I absolutely hate that about myself. You’d think I’d know better, but sometimes the sins of the father are the sins of the son. I am so afraid that this will be true of my own boys. This is a haunting realization.
An ironic thing is that I have training and experience in counseling and I am working on my master’s in this field. I have helped many men with the same issues, and am pretty good at it. But taking my own advice? Can’t do it. A part of me feels like I am not worthy of healing, which is silly, I know. I can’t help but entertain the thought. In my experience, often times the healers are in most need of healing.
My fears and guilt peaked the other night. I was feeling very down and desperate. I prayed, “God, please make me the father You want me to be”. I kept this prayer on loop in my mind until I had a realization: It’s never too late to make things better. Even if I do so much damage to my kids with my short fuse, impatience, or aloofness that the cycle of pain continues, there is always a chance to start over. My kids will always want the chance to make things better and heal. Do you know why? Because a boy will always need his father. I am living proof of that. No matter the age of the boy–10 years old or 100 years old– a boy will never TRULY give up on his father. I still haven’t, even though a part of me believes things between my father and I will never heal. But the largest part of me, my heart and soul, wants my dad to call me and say, “I screwed up and I am sorry. How can I make things right?” My boys and I have a far better and stronger relationship than my dad and I ever did, and I am more open to them about my struggles. I think I have a fighting chance to be in my kids’ lives forever and to raise them up in how God intended. Besides, who am I to say that God’s mercy can mend everyone else, but not me? What an insult to God! Deep down, like WAY DEEP DOWN, I know I am a good father and that my boys and I will have a great relationship, but the temptations to deny myself this comfort lingers. I think writing this post has helped solidify the fact that though my fears are understandable, they are lies just the same.
Since this realization I have felt a peace within myself. I’ve felt closer to my kids and wife, and I can feel God’s grace soothing me. I pray that this peace continues to calm the guilt at night and brings me the ability to become a better father. I am so grateful for our Heavenly Father, who will never hurt us and will always be there. I pray for the healing of those reading this who share this struggle with me, and I am confident that you will find peace. Just never lose hope in yourself and always have faith in God.
Thank for reading.