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Healing the Father Wound

Dr. H. Norman Wright

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From Healing for the Father Wound

Father-it's a powerful word-a positive word for some and painful for others. What is a father? Who is he supposed to be, and what is he supposed to do? Sometimes in my counseling practice I have heard women describe what they wish their fathers would be or had been, and my only response has been, "He doesn't exist anywhere." He sounded like Superfather, who could leap from one building to another. Some create fathers in the image of what they want him to be rather than what he could ever be. Often we do this same thing with God, our heavenly Father.

As I work with those in grief and trauma, I'm often given a window to look through that gives me insight into a person's theology. What we believe about God really comes to the forefront when we are hurting. And so often what I hear is what people wish God would be rather than who He is according to the Scriptures. We cannot create God in the image we want Him to be in order to satisfy our needs. He is who He is -- whether that meets our approval or not.

In the same way, some women will never have the father they want, not because of a deficiency in their dads but because what they desire is unrealistic and unattainable. For others, what they want is reasonable, and it would be healthier for their dad if he were that way. But some fathers are so emotionally and/or developmentally challenged it would take years of work -- maybe even therapy -- for his healing to occur. Only then could his daughter hope to see the preferred change in their father-daughter relationship.

The book The Wonder of Girls: Understanding the Hidden Nature of Our Daughters by Michael Gurian is one of the best books I've seen on this topic. In a very succinct way the author describes the impact of a father on his daughter. He writes,

A father who is honest with his daughter about his own flaws becomes her confidant. A father who remains stoic becomes her enigma to solve. A father who distances himself too greatly from his daughter becomes a burden she carries into life. If a father always finds time to cuddle, listen to, toss in the air, dance with, run alongside, coach, comfort, and protect his daughter, he will give her the gift of life he is built to give. If a father withholds nothing, teaching his daughter the life skills she needs to know, he shares an active kind of respect for variety in a girl's developing self. If a father competes with his daughter in games, but especially when she is young lets her win her share of races, he is showing her both his own humility and her potential.

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