Note: If you have a great relationship with your father, you can skip over this post. I am writing this for the people who wish they had a father who cares.
A lot of people on the survivor forums are struggling this week because they feel guilty for not sending a Father’s Day card, but I don’t believe such a formality can fix a relationship that resembles a black hole. Most ACoNs* are empathetic and a narcissist by the very definition is not other-centered enough to care what their hurting children think.
Every relationship is a two way street and if your father abandoned you physically as a child or emotionally as an adult, you should not feel guilty when he puts nothing into the relationship. Loving fathers take an interest in their adult children’s lives.
When Zoe discovered her father had nothing to say to her unless she continued the narcissistic feed to do his bidding and to give him money, she was heartbroken. She loved her father and she had often imagined he loved her, but the truth was in his actions. He lied about her, manipulated her and talked about her to the rest of the family. If he was not her father, she would have run the other way years ago.
God never intended for us to grovel for love from our parents. God’s plan was for parents to represent God’s other centered love to their children instead of ruling over them with a belt or mind control. God designed parents to provide and nurture children until they grow up. Then the plan was for them to have an adult relationship of mutual respect. Most narcissistic parents cannot make this transition and continue to see their children (and their children’s resources) as things to control.
So if your father isn’t speaking to you because you told the truth, if your father lies about you to the rest of the family, if your father still manipulates you into his schemes or shuns you completely, please do yourself and your father a favor by NOT sending a card.
To refuse to send a card doesn’t mean you don’t forgive him. To not send a card doesn’t mean you don’t care. To not send a card doesn’t mean you have given up on the relationship. It simply means you are no longer playing a game of charades with your father. To send a card is to play a game of pretend and it’s time to stop pretending like the relationship is okay when it’s not. It is only by addressing the truth that you and your father can be set free to have a healthy relationship–if that is even possible.
Chances are, he will go on doing what he has always done and you will learn to let go of needing what he can’t give. When you realize this relationship should be going both ways, you can relax and stop feeling guilty for not trying to meet his needs for once.
PS We can still forgive them even when they won’t say sorry.
*ACoN-Adult Children of Narcissists
I’ve posted this song the other day, but in case you missed it and you find yourself wishing for a father who cares, there is always hope in God.