• author
    • Jesse Loren

    • June 16, 2013 in Columnists

    Approval is healing

    Fathers hold the secret to approval.  They hold the validation of the child’s soul.  It doesn’t matter that they are imperfect (drunk, stupid, selfish, absent).  We forgive them and crave their approval.

    I have a special box that keeps the tie I bought for my dad in 1972.  It has groovy peace signs all over it and has become a signifier of good intentions.  It meant a lot to me when I was 10. In those days, I loved my parents like I loved God.  They were infallible, in spite of everything.

    My father died of pancreatic cancer in 1984.  From diagnosis to death, there was a terrible wasting away of his body.  He was given three months to get his life in order, but he lived for one year, almost to the day.

    A father needs his life in order.  Not that he needs tags on his goods for distribution after death.  He needs his approvals in order.

    The hardest blow to us, his survivors, was the constant guessing of whether or not we could have earned his approval.


    Approval comes in many forms, but the main form is in these words: “I am really proud of you. I am proud of how you live your life, what you contribute, and especially what you have done with ______________________.”  (Fill the most important thing in the blank).  These words need to be said.  Approval from the father gives peace to the lives of the sons and daughters.

    The unresolved issues of the parents weigh hard on the next generation.  Resolving approval is one of the most important things a father can do for his adult children.  It is a Father’s Day gift that is deeper, stronger, and more significant than any tie.

    Resolving approval with a parent who has passed away, or is no longer of sound mind, is extremely  important.   In such circumstances, you must contemplate the strengths of your father, then find those strengths within yourself. Contemplate the strengths unique to you.  Approve of yourself, how much you have grown, how far you have taken your life’s gifts.  Say those words about yourself.

    With approval also comes acceptance of imperfection.  No person is infallible or without blame.  Forgive dad’s list of imperfections.  The healing that takes place with approval also comes with a side of forgiveness and acceptance.

    The greatest gift you can give to yourself this Father’s Day is the resolution of approval; whether you are the father who has never said those words, or the adult child who must heal the hunger for approval through contemplation.

    The greatest gift a father can give on Father’s Day is the gift of approval.


    • So true. My dad was with me today as I took photos in a no photo museum. I know he liked that I have some risk taking skills and he was the most enthusiastic risk taker I have known, Some worked and others were dismal failures. But he always thought it was so important to not always ask for approval but take it.

    • An even greater gift…. when you can give yourself that approval… when you DECIDE… “I am okay. I am enough.” Love you….

      • Jesse

      • June 16, 2013 at 10:23 am
      • Reply

      I have to agree. At 50 or so, we see that, but the 20 somethings walk around with a hole they don’t realize they have the power to heal. Moreover, the hole comes from the unresolved issues of the father and the shadow that is cast on the sons and daughters.

      • Kate

      • June 16, 2013 at 11:59 am
      • Reply

      Excellent column, Jesse.

      • Kate

      • June 16, 2013 at 12:03 pm
      • Reply

      (After typing my comment, the site told me “Your comment is awaiting approval. Please have some patience.” Perfect.)

      • Jesse

      • June 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm
      • Reply

      LOL Kate !

    • Approval is wonderful, rejection for whatever reason tears us apart. Indifference though is the soul killer. Good Column sis.

      • Jesse

      • June 16, 2013 at 3:57 pm
      • Reply

      Rex, I’d have to say dad played the worst game of favoritism and rejection with us and intermittent indifference. It took a long time for me to get past that. These days, I watch the struggle of younger men with their fathers, and I just wish I could shake the dads. On the other hand, I have this one friend, Norb, whose father was a doctor, a political force, and a local super power. I wonder how cool that would have been!

      • Maya North

      • June 16, 2013 at 4:42 pm
      • Reply

      Boy, you just nailed it. I was the ostentatiously unfavorite child, the “if we just didn’t have this gawdawful child we’d be a great family” child — and that went for both parents, brother and all other relatives except my mother’s mother — and nobody liked her, anyway (except me). Do I get this? Oh, love, yes — to the bone. I would say that I never truly got my mother’s approval (although she liked and admired my talents (not so much me)), but I have begun to get my father’s. Is it perfect or complete? I don’t think he’s capable of it. Does it heal holes that have been bleeding for a half century? Yeah, more than I expected. Big hugs and nose smoochies… <3 <3 <3

    Leave a Comment