If you were lucky enough to have had a good dad, not a Super Dad but just a regular guy dad, you really hit the jackpot. So many kids grow up (or try to) without the emotional support or even the presence of a father. The idea of not having one is heartbreaking to me, and I know it is all too common.
On this Father’s Day, you have only one mission: to just show up and be nice. If you and your dad aren’t seeing eye to eye right now, that will change if your relationship is solid. Please drop your defenses, your grudges and your memories of the bad times, and focus on the essence of your parent. It is his love that brought you into this world, and if he was around until you could be on your own, count yourself lucky.
My dad is no longer alive, but I keep a favorite picture of him on my desk. He is in Paris, in front of the Arc de Triomphe, sporting a beret and looking very cool. On his birthday I put one of our battery-powered candles in front of it, but I got the timer wrong, and the light didn’t come on until nighttime. This turned out to be an improvement over the original plan!
Whenever I come downstairs at night and see the light shining below his picture, it warms my heart. I really like the idea of him being in the light and having that comfort. It makes me feel he is still with me and just a tiny bit closer.
If your dad is around, hug him tightly until he asks you to let go. Fill your heart with loving memories and release the times you didn’t get your way. You were just a kid, and he was trying to do what was best for you. When you parent says no, it’s not to punish but to protect you.
If you want to follow in your father’s footsteps, that’s not a bad thing. For a time, my dad was a journalist, and I am very proud that writing is part of my life. I went a different route with the rest of my work, but sharing the same creative outlet makes me feel connected to him in memory and inspires me as a writer.
I dedicated my latest book to him, which felt like a big win. I got to honor my dad even though he is no longer with me. Like I said, you want to give and get as much love from him now, while he’s still here, as you can.
The saddest part of loving someone is that they are not going to be around forever. Soaking up their love is the best thing you can do, and it’s good for both of you. Being loved and recognizing it can give you superpowers that will serve you all your life.
Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.” Follow his daily insights on Twitter at BartonGoldsmith, or email him at Barton@bartongoldsmith.com.