Would Father’s Day be different?

Would Father’s Day be different . . .

If Christianity wasn’t preaching that, not only are they allowed to hit their children, but they must hit their children in order to be good fathers?

If complementarianism wasn’t telling dads that it’s a woman’s job to raise children, and that caring, nurturing men are “emasculated?”

If society wasn’t still pumping out the tired, old idea that masculinity equals power, and that men who do not have complete control over their families are not real men?

If the world saw children as more than property?

If we learned that boundaries are important?

If we remembered the words of bell hooks, that “love and abuse cannot coexist?”

I think so. I have only been able to love my father since I learned that I am my own person, that I exist outside of him. That he is not the “king” of our family or the head of our household. That he is a person and so am I.

I was not able to love my father until I started saying, “You are not allowed to hit me. You are not allowed to talk to me like that. You are not allowed to do these things to my siblings, either. That is not right. The church has lied to you–what you are doing is not ‘discipline.’ It is abuse.”

I was not able to love my father until I set boundaries. 

My father has done so many good things for me. I could be grateful to him, I could appreciate him. But until I let him know that I was not his property, and until he started to realize that too, I couldn’t really love him.

“Love and abuse cannot coexist.” I quote this line from bell hooks’ All About Love so often that I probably sound like a parrot. But I cannot think of a phrase that this world needs to hear more.

This Father’s Day, I want to shout it from the rooftops.


(Thanks to my Twitter friend, Heidi, who tweeted these words–“Love and abuse cannot coexist”–and inspired this post)

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  • Hannah_Thomas

    My father somewhere along the line figured this out. I remember sitting at a dinner table, and we were speaking of my childhood (and the bro). He announced that he knew some of the things that he did during childhood he could go to jail for today. Then he gave us letters before we died telling us that he wished he had been a better father, and he pointed out WHY. It was like remorse, humility, and a show of proper type of love finally surfaced. I’m not sure what happened within those couple of years – between those two stories of the dinner table, and the letter. He owed 100% of his stuff, and asked our forgiveness more than once.

    It was like a gift that just kept on giving. Its so much easier to remember the good aspects of those years now. Its also much easier to remember the good aspects of him as well.

  • Fortunately, I think I’ve been a better father. At least I’ve tried.

  • Jennifer Stahl

    *standing ovation*

  • forgedimagination

    This was my first Father’s Day that I went to church after becoming a feminist. It was… hard. Not because the speaker said anything that I really disagreed with, because he didn’t, but it was still rough because I could contrast it with the way the same exact speaker handled Mother’s Day.

    It frustrates me that we talk about these things in incredibly gendered terms when it doesn’t do anybody any good.