My children know little more about their grandfather than his name. That’s because my father and I have been estranged for many years. Years of anger and bitterness have allowed me to convince myself it’s best we part ways. However, parenting my own children convicts me of the need to restore our father-son relationship.
An addiction to alcohol has driven a wedge between the two of us that has caused us to live completely separate lives though we live only a forty-five minutes’ drive from each other. I’ve witnessed the incredible influence and hold alcohol can have on a person. I don’t understand the addiction to alcohol, but I know it is real. I’ve lived through the abuse an alcohol addiction can inflict on family and friends.
Protected somewhat by my parents’ divorce at a young age, I’m one of the lucky few capable of breaking the generational cycle alcoholism tends to exhibit. I live my life in total abstinence from alcohol; primary because it truly scares me. I could likewise become a nonfunctioning alcoholic. Additionally, I believe the Bible offers very serious warning and commands to stay away from “strong drink.”
However, a major downside to my defiance against alcohol is the divide I’ve allowed it to cause in my relationship with my father. Now, I’m certainly not saying abstinence from alcohol is a bad thing. Rather, I’m saying I never should have let this separate my father and me. Likewise, I’m not saying I condone my father’s abuse of alcohol. We can have a good relationship regardless of our differing opinions regarding alcohol.
But I mentioned that my children brought about this conviction related to my relationship with my father. What do they have to do with it? Well, I’ve come to realize the likelihood my children and I will experience differences of opinion. What if they grow up to disagree with my faith in Christ? What if they grow up to have different political views than I hold? May it be that not even the touchy topics of religion or politics can separate me from my children.
Let’s consider a few reasons recovering my estranged father-son relationship is so important to my children.
So it won’t divide us
We know our children tend to follow our examples. I don’t want my children to view my strained relationship with their grandfather as acceptable. It may be that one day my children and I experience similar disagreements. If we do, I don’t want them to follow my example and become estranged from their father.
So they can learn life lessons
Would I be so determined to avoid the trap alcohol presents without my experience with my dad? Absolutely not. No amount of talking about the dangers of alcohol addiction will give my children the perspective that I have. A restored relationship with my father can enable him to share his struggle with his grandchildren. Might they also see and experience his struggle up close and personal? Maybe, but under the care and supervision I would provide.
So they can learn from their grandfather
My father has an addiction to alcohol, but he isn’t a bad person. He has much to teach my children. He was the first to teach me to hunt and shoot a gun. He taught me to ride a bicycle. If I neglect to restore my relationship with him, I’m robbing my children of the lessons they could learn from him.
So they are equipped for great relationships
Relationships are difficult at times. All of them – marriage relationships, family relationships, even friendships. Where will my children learn to work through the difficulties of relationships if they don’t learn it from me? I don’t have to hide the fact restoring the relationship will be hard. I don’t have to disguise my fear and emotions. In fact, I should probably communicate these to my children clearly. But I must certainly attempt to restore my relationship with my father so my children will be equipped for their own relationships.
Consider your relationships. Which one do you need to restore? For me, it’s the father-son relationship. For you, maybe it’s a mother-daughter relationship; could be a sibling rivalry. It may even be over a situation far worse than addiction to alcohol. Whatever the case, you don’t have to condone any behavior, but work to restore the relationship and your children will be the better for it.
CALL TO ACTION
1) Check out these “6 Steps To Rebuilding A Relationship”
2) Tell me how I can coach you through your restoration – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Make a phone call today to the person with which you need to reconcile