Some Candid Thoughts About Fatherhood

DespairThis will be my fourth Father’s Day without contact from my children. Of any kind.

1,104 days. 26,496 minutes. 1,589,760 seconds…

…of despair.

Despite myriad pleas of forgiveness. Estranged.

John Irving in A Prayer For Owen Meany says American people reserve their moral condemnation for sexual misconduct. He goes on to say, “Boudoir morality takes little imagination, and can be indulged in without the effort of bothering to know ‘the whole story’ behind the sexual adventure.”

Over the past three years I have met other fathers (good fathers—not perfect—but good fathers, who for various reasons were unable to maintain a lifelong relationship with the mother of their children) who suffer the same fate. Estrangement by their children. And their grandchildren used as pawns.

Many “christian” friends from my past have told me I’m getting what I deserve.

You know, they may be right.

Ironically, I’ve also met several children now grown who love and have forgiven their fathers unconditionally despite suffering heinous mistreatment at their hands: horrible physical abuse, lifelong mental abuse, rape, incest, abandonment, and yes, even worse. Unfathomable.

P.S. I have been silent about details of my family life, especially the estrangement from my children, due to the wisdom and advice of my wife Gina. But as I type these words, I am alone.

She got up at 3am and drove for twelve hours to Florida yesterday to surprise her eighty-nine-year-old Dad for Father’s Day. When she walked in beaming from ear to ear, he collapsed in tears of joy. Beautiful.

It’s not that they have been exempt from times of extreme difficulty. They’ve had more than their fair share. But somehow they have chosen to love each other unconditionally.

I’m also the benefactor of that remarkable father-daughter relationship, because the functional and unconditional love her Dad has shown throughout life enables Gina to provide that same gift of unconditional love to me.

My therapist says I’m getting what I deserve.

You know, he may be right.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST. I have been very prolific in writing about the love my Dad and I share. You can read a few of those HERE and HERE and HERE. And I would be remiss if I did not once again use this platform to wish my Dad a Happy Father’s Day.

Believe me, we’ve had our moments as well. I have broken his heart more than once and disappointed him with my actions. Dad is a very religious man with strong convictions about lifelong marriage, but somehow he continues to love me as only a good (not perfect, but good) father can.

And my girls have been the benefactor of that same unconditional love. Not perfect love, but functional and unconditional love. Dad has provided a heritage that will live on in me, my children and grandchildren. No matter what.

The Hebrew Bible says to honor your father and mother and your days will be long on this earth.

You know, it may be right.

14 Responses to “Some Candid Thoughts About Fatherhood”

  1. You know Randy, this is an issue that plagues those of us in the church who are not perfect (all of us). While some actions have greater consequence than others, forgiveness is imperative, especially when difficult. I pray for the restoration of your relationship to your girls, and all relationships that have been strained due to our humanness. May none of us actually get what we deserve.

  2. We often can begin to deal with others humanity as we face the imperfections of our own. They are young… This is my first without my father…A man who never to his dying breath… which I spent with him…accepting that I didn’t become more. We love them all…accepting and understand so much more the gift of God’s outrageous love whether we love Him, honor or respect Him or not.

  3. Randy, I’m sorry to hear of this. I’m in a parallel path. When I divorced their father, my two stepchildren were forbidden to ever have contact with me again. They’ve held true to their promise to him, even though he died in February 2013. Although they were my stepchildren, I knew them from 13-27, very formative years when my stepson even lived with us. I can not control their actions, but I believe that I was called to help them. Sometimes with advice and love, and other times with monetary support for college and starting their adult lives. I am very peaceful that I have done what God asked me to do: help raise two wonderful children and expose them to my love of God. If they contact me again it will be icing on the cake. It would be nice to know them, but I acted to help and love them because God asked me to, not because I expected anything in return. Hope that you will see the same context. God asked you to raise them, and now he asks you to let them go.
    Agatha Nolen´s last blog post ..Desperate Women

  4. We love you and your girls and pray for your reconciliation!

    Jeff and Dana

  5. Cheryl Hartman June 15, 2014 at 16:04

    The Lord doesn’t give us what we deserve. He gives us love and forgiveness.
    For people to pass judgement so harshly – in my opinion – is as bad or worse than adultery .
    This is not a good enough reason to cut a parent or a grandparent off as if they don’t exist.
    As your sister, I love you, Randy. I hope your family can see, that as a parent, they may one day face a similar situation .

  6. I’ve only known you a short time Randy, but just want to sent you my love. Happy Father’s Day none the less.

  7. Powerful, Randy. I define art as moments when perfect beauty rise out of human imperfection. So let the beauty of your art rise. Let it say what words cannot. And let God be God. We’re eternal beings. Those relationships will return in this life. Or the next. Still sucks, though. I know. (I’m here.)
    Keith Jennings´s last blog post ..“What’s His Dog’s Name?” (A Leadership Story)

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