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.