Regardless your age, if you have a disconnected dad, you’ve probably longed to get to know him, to feel loved by him, or just get a sense that you matter to him. You may have seen glimpses of his love but never experienced any sustained, real relationship. He’s more of a dad stereotype than a person who has genuine feelings, pains, and joys.
Duty ≠ Connection
He does his duty. Always has a word of advice. He knows he’s supposed to spend time with you, and sometimes does. But he always seems busy. The kind of busy that may not show on the surface but always seems to preoccupy him with things other than you. Even when you are with him.
It hurts. Having him physically near you but not ‘present’ with you. And by present, I mean he’s not experiencing the moment with you, his mind, and more importantly, his heart seem to be somewhere else. Almost like you are not there, invisible, even when he’s looking at you.
If he’s a good man, he would be bothered to know that you don’t feel close to him. I say good man because there are bad men who are outwardly selfish, abusive, egotistical, and worse. Men who really don’t care if you feel close and react in ugly ways if you try. If your dad is like that he has more issues that being disconnected. And you will most likely need a much different approach than what is offered here.
Back to the good man. I said he would be bothered to know you don’t feel close. I said bothered because most disconnected men don’t feel sad. Sad is the correct emotion but they stuffed that one into a box a long time ago and now it’s very hard to reach. He should feel sad, crushed actually, if you said to him you don’t feel close to him or loved by him. But he’s most likely just bothered.
Advice From A Former Disconnected Dad
Here’s my first word of advice for you. Don’t be offended that he feels bothered. It’s as close to sad as he can get right now. What may surprise you is that he most likely feels close to you. You are his child. He raised or is raising you, provides for you, watched you grow up. He is most likely very proud of you. The problem is he doesn’t know how to express those thoughts or feelings to you. Bothered is his way of saying, ‘how can he or she not know that I love him or her? I do everything for him or her, would die for my son or daughter. I say, ‘I love you’, and hug, and I’m always here to do whatever he or she needs.’
While he thinks this, he doesn’t know what it’s like to feel sad, lonely, and unloved. Because your dad is disconnected he really doesn’t feel any of those things so doesn’t understand how that feels like to you. And that should give you a hint about how to approach him.
You must realize that your disconnected dad doesn’t feel like you feel. He is capable of learning how to start feeling, but for now, please accept that he just doesn’t. His emotional sensors, his human heart, are covered up and shoved far back into his being. And he might not know when that happened or why. It’s why he comes across as distant and unemotional.
The Important Note
Here’s the truth though and it’s extremely important you hear it – it’s not about you. It’s him! His heart is unavailable for deep and meaningful relationship. And he doesn’t even sense the need for them. You didn’t do anything wrong. And you didn’t cause his disconnection. He most likely did that long before you came along.
If you can start from this understanding, you will maintain a much better chance of connecting with your dad. Try to remember that he’s the broken one. Broken but unaware of his brokenness. You are the one who gets to draw him out, to teach him, to help him find those emotions he stuffed down so long ago. You, in concert with the Holy Spirit will, step by step, reach his heart and show him how to use it.
Take it from a formerly disconnected man with four adult children he’s now very connected to – you can play a BIG part in helping your dad connect. In the next post I’ll start to share how.