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List: Posted: 06/16/11
My father died when I was 11, so every year after that until I was in my 30s, I dreaded Father’s Day. Seeing other kids and their dads just got to me emotionally, as I longed for that missing relationship in my life. How I turned that painful holiday into a satisfying celebration took some initiative on my part, but here’s how I got through Father’s Day without a dad in my life.
1. Celebrate your deceased father. Get out the pictures, letters, videos, or anything memorable and enjoy them. On Father's Day, spend an afternoon going through all your favorite photos and make a scrapbook of the best ones. Put on your dad's favorite music as you work, and allow yourself to feel his presence. Remember the good times you two had and let yourself embrace them - that’s exactly what he would want you to do. He wouldn’t want you struggling emotionally and to endure pain on his behalf on that special day. One thing I do now is to take my own kids to the park each June and talk about my dad with them. They love hearing my stories, and it makes me feel extremely proud of my father and our tight bond.
If your dad is still alive and you just aren’t in contact with him, try to remember the good times if you can. I bet they’re there if you just start thinking.
Remember, in many divorces, one party will often try and vilify the other. Oftentimes, the mom does this. If your mother has denigrated your father in an attempt to estrange you both, realize it and don’t let it continue. You have a right to love your imperfect father unconditionally, and he is entitled to forge a strong and healthy bond with you. If need be, call your dad if you haven’t seen him or heard from him in a while. He’s probably longing for the communication.
2. Find a surrogate father. My friend Jake's real father hasn’t contacted him in 20 years. Jake doesn’t even know where he lives. To cope with the emotional pain, he has built wonderful relationships with a few men at his local church. In fact, he calls his pastor “dad.” They have such a close, honest and fun relationship that I’m a bit envious. While your real father may not be around, there’s plenty of other father figures and mentors in your life who would probably love to get to know you. Open yourself up and reach out to your granddad, an elder in your church or synagogue, or any male friend you feel you can bond with and trust. Take them out to a restaurant, or meet at a park or coffee shop to discuss life. You won’t regret the new relationship in your life, and you'll find that the void can somewhat be filled.
3. Draw close to a higher power. Many people view God as the ultimate father figure, and form a close relationship with him through prayer. I do this daily. I tell him my problems, worries, hopes and dreams, and he listens. I recommend him to anyone to fill a fatherly role.
Whether you’re an adult or a young person wading through life, you can overcome the emotional struggle than often takes place on Father’s Day. I encourage you to love yourself enough to take the initiative and do it through these many steps.
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