Occasionally a father will ask me if he should believe his adult son. Many fathers have trouble believing when their sons tell them that they did a good job.
As a typical parent, he remembers the things that he would like to have changed and done differently. Many fathers can remember instances where they hurt their children emotionally or physically.
How can my son forgive me for what I have done? How can he be ok with the job that I did? Some sons cannot forgive, but most do.
While both the father and son remember the problems in their relationship, the adult sons will often remember the positive experiences much more completely than their father.
I remember when my brother and I were each approached by my father asking for our forgiveness. My father was very ill and knew that he was not going to live much longer.
I think Dad and I were sitting out in the open at a picnic table. I can just remember looking at my father with astonishment. My jaw had to have dropped. I could barely take in what he was saying. He was talking about all the long hours he worked and never being home.
Rarely attending my sporting events when I was in high school. Not being there for me when I needed him. Of not really fitting in. Of not caring for the family like he had wanted.
Everything that he said was true. In fact there were some things that had happened that I had never told him. I
n that moment it was clear that I would not. I understood his mistakes and the challenges of his life but he did not understand my perspective. He did not realize that I trusted that if I needed him, he would be there.
I knew that he had stood up for me. I remembered the compassion and respect that he showed me. That day I told him a few things from my point of view. Things I did not realize that I needed to say. Later I talked with my brother who had a very similar experience.
Those positive experiences that he had minimized had a profound impact on me. They shaped my life and helped to make me into the man I am today.
I believe that this story is a common one. That many fathers do not understand how their adult children see them. I know that we talk more frankly than parents and children in the past but many parents still do not understand how their adult children really feel about them as a parent.
Ask Your Adult Children What Kind of Father You Were
Sometime when you get a chance, find out. You may be surprised at what you find.