Q&A: Honouring my dad who abandoned us

Q: I hate Father’s Day. My dad never said, “I love you,” or told me he was proud of me. Eventually, he abandoned our family completely. He was never a positive influence in my life – why should I honour him?

A: We feel for you. We understand some of the angst you may feel around Father’s Day. But we can still respect long-held traditions that teach us to honour our dads. That’s because honouring your father is as much for you as it is for him – maybe more so.

The ancient Greek word which means “honour” is often more specifically translated as “honouring that which is honourable.” In other words, we aren’t expected to respect our father for his abuse or his irresponsibility. But we should honour him for the positive things – however few – he represented. For some of us, that may be nothing more than the fact that he was responsible for giving us life.

And there’s a personal benefit in that action. Honouring a dad who wasn’t all he should have been requires us to forgive. It’s a long, challenging process and it certainly doesn’t erase a lifetime of poor choices your father may have made. But it does release us from the emotional prison our resentment can keep us trapped in. And if your dad is still alive – it could be a first step on a journey of healing for both of you.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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