With Father’s Day just a couple days away and Mother’s Day only a few weeks gone, it’s a time when most people take a moment to reflect on parental love and care.
But some of us had parents who were unable to provide the love and nurturing their children needed to grow and prosper – sometimes a parent fails their child.
And even if that failure isn’t the kind of severe abuse or trauma that leaves deep wounds, it can still impact a child’s development. Sometimes, parents simply lack the crucial ability to provide love and connection, and it may not be a case of malicious or intentional harm. Parents may be stuck reliving their own history, passing on their own early pain and experience. But when the victim is a child struggling to thrive, intention doesn’t matter.
For me, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are not a time to praise my birth parents, but rather occasions to remember and acknowledge the unconventional parenting that helped me become who I am today.
In my life there were many unsung heroes who loom large. When I needed them, it was my extended family who stepped in – from my grandfather to aunts and uncles. Even a slew of “greats” – great aunts and uncles – provided me with the nurturing I lacked at home.
A long line of school teachers, sport coaches and youth leaders also encouraged me and gave me a sense of value and self-worth. These were the special people in my childhood who offered me the gift of their unconditional love - caring people who may not have had any idea how transforming their gift would be.
I hold those healing memories close to my heart. These special people gave me what my own parents could not – and theirs is the love I acknowledge on days of “remembrance.”
But I know this story isn’t mine alone.
So this Father’s Day, I invite others to join me in honoring anyone who’s ever reached out and embraced a vulnerable child with wide open arms and a willing heart.
And I’ll spend the day reflecting on love freely given to me by the many men and women whom I’m proud to call “my family.”