Dear Debbie;

Father’s Day just passed again, and I had a miserable time. My father is not the greatest of fathers. All of those cards that say things like, “thanks for your advice through the years, you were always there for me,” etc., are simply not true. The pressure to celebrate a relationship where I was abused and he drank all the time leaves me feeling hypocritical if I do acknowledge the holiday, and guilty if I don’t. Am I a bad person for just wanting this to go away?


Confused Son


Dear Confused;

Learning to live from your own internal voice means risking the disapproval of others to be true to yourself. Many people come to me simply not able to honestly celebrate the “Hallmark Holidays” on the calendar. Here are some options my clients and I have discovered together. Only you can decide which of these keeps your integrity intact.  They range from the extreme of simply being sure that your parent has food, shelter, and medical care, to mailing a formal greeting card, to a  brief call checking in on their lives.  Some clients simply can’t do any of that due to the severity of the abuse.

Please remember that all adults, including your parents, had choices they made every day. Even the mentally ill have a choice to take their medicines on a regular basis or not. All choices come with consequences. How we treat our children is a choice with consequences as well. You are not responsible for pretending they didn’t choose.