Family photo from our wedding in 2011 (Photo by Christine Hall)
This past Sunday was Father’s Day and if your social media feed looked like mine, it was filled with tributes to dads. I have to admit that a few years ago, seeing those posts about “Dear Ole’ Dad” would have ruined my day. When you don’t have a relationship with your father it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself and be angry. That’s how I felt anyway.
My parents separated and divorced when I was in the 6th grade. Actually, my dad wasn’t around a whole lot before that happened and sometimes I didn’t want to be there when he was around. After the divorce, my mom and I moved to another town 25 miles away and I saw even less of him.
Once I went off to college, we would go years without talking. After awhile I didn’t think about it very much. But on Father’s Day or when filling out a family medical history, the resentment would always pop up.
No matter how much we want it to be, life isn’t like Leave it to Beaver, Full House or some sappy television sitcom. You know the one, where dad is the family leader offering up hugs and profound words. That may be true for some families, but not all. We don’t all get the luxury of fatherly advice and that’s OK. I used to feel broken because I didn’t have a relationship with my father, but I don’t feel that way any longer.
I know today that my parents did the best they could. Despite my best attempts at self destruction, I have an amazing life today. When Rebecca and I were planning our wedding, we had discussions on who to invite. It can be difficult to have those conversations, but we decided we wanted both my parents to be there and I’m glad we did.
If you're on the fence about inviting a parent, or if you have concerns about how the family photos will go, talk it over with your photographer. Before the wedding, we send out a questionnaire to help us put together your family photo list. Included in that questionnaire is a place to write out any special family issues. That way we can be aware and avoid any uncomfortable or awkward situations. If needed, we can take care of some family photos before and other photos after the ceremony- whatever it takes to help you get the photos that are important to you in the most comfortable way possible.
During my wedding, there was a bit of drama from my side of the family, but it wasn’t from my dad. In fact, he and I had our first real, candid conversation that weekend. It didn’t end in some grand gesture, or hug-it-out moment, but I was able to let go of the anger and resentment that I had been holding onto. We don’t talk much more today than we did before, but at least my son knows his Grandpa.