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June 13, 2019

Navigating Father's Day

Shift Team

Emotional Inner Child

Father’s Day is difficult for me. I find it challenging because I have a tumultuous relationship with “that man.”

Growing up, I wished for a father that would tell me how proud he was of my accomplishments but that wasn’t the case. My father didn’t have the capacity for compassion towards himself or others. He was depressed for most of his 40s and 50s. He didn’t have the coping tools to manage the adjustment he experienced when he chose to immigrate to a new country. He grew up as the youngest member in a family of six, and that—as I see it—meant he was afforded the comforts of having others provide for his needs when he needed them. I don’t think my father was given opportunities to fail and build resilience, so moving to a place where he had to learn to support his young family must have been challenging.

As an adult I can understand the trials and tribulations of being a flawed human, but Father’s Day is hard because I can’t reconcile my adult understanding with the emotional inner child in me who needed her dad.

For those of you who also have challenging relationships with family members, I hear you. Here are some strategies that might be helpful to manage expectations and emotions:

  • Give yourself the space to grieve the person you wanted them to be and see them for who they were (try to use facts if possible when you think about that person)
  • Allow yourself to feel the emotions that come up and name them (anger, disappointment, sadness, and pain are common ones)
  • Use your trusted support network (these are the people you choose now as an adult to care and be there for you)
  • Accept the relationship with this individual for what it was
  • Explore ways you self-soothe and provide yourself with self care

As much as these tips might be helpful, professional support such as therapy can be powerful here to help in the process of reconciling our inner child with our present adult.

This article was written by Vivian Zhang during their time at Shift Collab.

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