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)