silhouette of father and daughter sitting by a lake

Navigating Father’s Day: Reflections on Love, Struggle, and Healing

By: Kim Ureno

Father’s Day is a time when many celebrate the positive influence and love of their dads. But for some, like me, it’s a day that brings forth a mix of emotions and memories, both good and challenging.

Growing up, my dad struggled to regulate his emotions. He had his highs and lows, and as his child, I often found myself in the role of the “bomb diffuser.” I took it upon myself to navigate his moods, to try to keep things calm and steady, to prevent explosions. We jokingly but aptly referred to this as “dad politics” in our household, but behind the humor lay the reality of living with someone whose emotional state was unpredictable.

While I love my dad dearly and cherish the moments of joy and connection we shared, I also recognize the impact his emotional struggles had on me. As a parent, he not only was supposed to regulate his own emotions, but to also teach me how to regulate mine. As a child, I internalized the responsibility of managing his emotions, a burden that weighed heavily on my shoulders. It wasn’t until later, through therapy and self-reflection, that I began to unpack the layers of my experiences and understand the toll it had taken on my own well-being. I had become a people pleasing perfectionist, who thought that if she made a mistake the world would come crashing down around her.

Father’s Day serves as a reminder of the complexities of relationships, especially those with our parents. It’s a time to honor the love and support they’ve given us, but also an opportunity to acknowledge the challenges we’ve faced and the work we’ve done to heal and grow.

For me, Father’s Day is about finding balance. It’s about honoring my dad’s strengths and the moments of connection we share, while also recognizing the impact of his struggles on my life. It’s about holding space for both love and healing, acknowledging the complexities of the father-child relationship.

As I navigate Father’s Day this year, I do so with a sense of gratitude for the lessons learned and the growth that has come from facing challenges head-on. And while my journey with my dad may not have been easy, [with the help of therapy] it has shaped me into the person I am today, resilient, and compassionate, with a deep appreciation for the complexities of the human experience.

So, to all those who, like me, may find Father’s Day to be a mix of emotions, know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to feel the weight of your experiences, but it’s also okay to celebrate the love and connection that exists amidst the struggles. And most importantly, it’s okay to prioritize your own healing and well-being, even as you honor the role your dad has played in your life.

This Father’s Day, may we all find peace amid complexity, and may we continue our journeys of healing and growth with courage and compassion.

Photo of Kim Ureno

Kim Ureno is a Health & Wellness Educator at Jewish Community Services.

Jewish Community Services (JCS) provides programs and services for people of all ages and backgrounds, helping them achieve their goals, enhance their wellbeing, and maximize their independence. To learn more, visit jcsbalt.org or call 410-466-9200.

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