Someone asked me recently, “What was your father like when you were a child?”
He was a devoted father. He, like my mother, always wanted children. Before he was married, he would spend a lot of time with his niece and nephew. They were the children of his older brother Leonard. He would play with them, dreaming of the day when he had children of his own.
My father’s whole life was his children. He had no other desires other than spending time with his children; playing with his children; and, providing for his children. He loved being a devoted parent.
His attitude was wonderful while I was still a child. But Dad stayed involved in his children’s lives after they grew up and were independent.
My brother and two sisters did not mind Dad still being in their lives as their father and telling them what to do. They did not mind him trampling their boundaries as he continued to be a devoted parent. After all, his intentions were good. But I no longer needed nor wanted a devoted parent telling me what to do. I reached a point where I was suffocating. I needed to break away.
I did break away, and my breaking away caused a lot of conflicts. Dad did not see me as an independent adult capable of making decisions. He saw me as an ungrateful child who still needed a father to lead the way. He only knew life as being a parent, and I no longer needed a parent.
Dad went to his grave feeling hurt. He never understood that his need to be a parent violated my boundaries as an independent adult. I know he meant well and wanted the best for his children. But sometimes, the best thing you can do for your children is to step back and let them go.