By Nick Brzozowski
This post is adaption from my message: Daddy Issues, which you can listen to here.
I never met my dad.
I'll be honest, I’m not above using that fact gain pity and to ground excuses. It typically goes something like this:
"I would change the oil myself, but I never had a dad to teach me."
"I’d wear a tie more often, if I had a dad to teach me."
"Why three ice cream sandwiches? One for dessert; another cause because it’s been a rough day; the third because I never had a dad teach me portion control. You had a dad, so you wouldn’t understand."
But, since you're reading this, I don't think I’m not the only one with daddy issues.
According to the 2020 US Census, 1/4 children grow up with no dad in the home, including step-dad or any father figure — higher chance of abusing drugs/alcohol, poverty, dropping out of high school and serious psychological behavioral problems. So, 25% of kids today have daddy issues.
In research done by Judith Arcana, only “about 1 percent of the sons described only good relationships with their fathers.” This survey was done in 1981, which means it doesn’t mean that you have daddy issues necessarily, but it *does* mean that your daddy has daddy issues.
Daddy issues take on different forms.
As I explain these different forms, ask yourself where you might see the daddy issues in your life.
1. We follow patterns.
Proverbs 22:6 — Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
What if we were trained wrong? If your dad was an angry and an alcoholic, he trained you to be angry and alcoholic. If all you saw was what your dad was doing the wrong thing with money - you were trained to do things wrong with your money. He looked out for the interests of your own family and never looking beyond that. When he walked away when it got hard, to please himself or when he wasn't seeing success in another area, he was self righteous and judgmental. He trained you to do that too.
2. We fill voids.
Because we didn’t get enough love and attention, we fill the void. We might go to relationships with emotionally detached partners. Or throw ourselves into our work and career — you didn’t hear dad say he was proud of you, so you keep hoping that your boss will.
3. We feel judged.
We create stories for why dad wasn’t there (taken from Samuel Osherson). Maybe he was a hero or overworked or a loser or a villain. And typically in the images of our dads that we create in our minds, they are one of two things: either secretly full of rage, ready to explode at any minute or hurt and wounded and secretly terribly disappointed in you.
Are your daddy issues making you to feel judged? Are you scared to talk to your dad because you wonder how that might hurt you? Do you walk around with shame that you aren’t enough? Do you hear your dad’s voice in your head saying, “Why aren’t you working harder?” “Why can’t you just quit smoking?” “Do you really think someone is going to want to ever marry you when you life is a wreck?”
It is this ongoing message: you are unloved and you are unlovable.
Don't worry you aren’t alone in this:
David was overlooked by his dad. Then, when he became powerful, he committed adultery and killed the husband to cover it up. His son, Solomon had to come to terms with the reality that his dad murdered his wife’s husband.
Leah’s dad had to trick Jacob into marrying her because he found her too ugly for anyone to want.
Jonathan’s dad was a failure of a leader. And Jonathan was a disappointment for never becoming king.
Joseph’s dad, Jacob, showed favoritism because his dad, Isaac showed favoritism, because his dad, Abraham, showed favoritism. In fact, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all have problems with deceit, hurting people because of their lies. All three generations also treated women poorly.
Two things you need to do to deal with your Daddy Issues:
Daddy issues are as common as goose poop in Champaign. And if you walk around with a blind fold on, you're going to step in something. Similarly, if you don't take your blind fold off when it comes to your Daddy Issues, you're going to step into it too. It's hard but it's necessary to deal with the issues.
You might grieve how little you have gotten to know your dad. Psychologist Samuel Osherson shared how he devastated his Jewish dad one day by ordering himself the veal parmigiana instead the old, boring Kosher eggplant. You see, Samuel didn’t really know his dad. He thought that his dad was stuck in old, pointless tradition. Much later in life, he came to discover that his dad had a hard time showing love with his words, so the only way he could love his parents was to keep the Kosher tradition.
So, what do you know about your dad? Do you know why he finds that same joke funny even after the 600th time? Do you know why he feels an attachment to that old, ugly button up he always seems to wear? Do you know how he recovered from getting laid off or his divorce with mom or the death of his parents? Do you know if he actually has recovered? If you don’t know who your dad is, how do you know who you are?
Maybe you are grieving what you don’t know about your father. Maybe, you’re grieving what you do know. He was too busy with work to spend time with you. Maybe, you are grieving the fact that he struggled with addictions or he mistreated your mom or he abused you. See your situation for what it is. Name your father.
Now, of course, some of you had great dads who were responsible and emotionally available. But, for those of you who didn’t. For those of you whose fathers have failed miserably, there is a promise for you.
In Ezekiel 18:2-3, the prophet refers to a common expression: The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge. As I live, declares the Lord God, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel.
In ancient culture, sons especially were so tied with their fathers that they bore the consequences for their dad’s sins. Dad eats grapes, and you have a cavity. But, here, God is saying that each person will be responsible for their own misdeeds. This was a word of hope for Israel and I believe it is a word of hope for you.
You are not your dad. You are not responsible for what he did. You may carry his name, but not his shame. And even if those same patterns have formed in you, there is still hope. You can break those generational chains. By the grace of God, you can be transformed. By the power of God, you can change.
We grieve our earthly father. And then, we receive God as our Heavenly Father.
In 2 Samuel 7, David wants to build God a house. God says that I will build you a dynasty and that your son will be king. He then says that he will be a father to him. Even though Solomon had a dad, he still needed a Heavenly Father.
In the gospels, Jesus never talks about his earthly dad, Joseph, but he can’t stop talking about his Heavenly Father. Just like Jesus and Solomon, we have earthly dads. But, we also need our heavenly father.
Jesus taught us who God is. When he taught us to pray, he said to address God as “our Father.” When you think of God, think Father.
God is not the reflection of our earthly father; his is the perfection - Rich Wilkerson Jr.
If you have a dad who fell short, just like all of us fall short, that's hard but that will help you understand God better. God fulfills our longings for what we were looking for in our Father.
If your dad was stingy, you heavenly father is Generous. Matthew 7
If your dad wasn't around, your heavenly father is there. Psalm 139
If your dad wasn't ever happy with you, your heavenly father is running towards you. Luke 15
My whole life, I didn’t expect anything from my dad; but, strangely, when I found out that he was dead, I was mad. “You weren’t there when I needed you. And you will never help me. You’ll never pay me back for all that you neglected. And I can’t even be mad at you because you never even knew that I existed.”
So today, take time to do these two things.
He wasn’t there when…I remember when dad…
I forgive you. I understand that you are a human with your own problems and pains and daddy issues. I love you.
Receive the love of God. Listen to God tell you…
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” - Roman 8:15
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