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When Father is a Wound

The Playgrounds of War IOn Sunday, my children and I celebrated my husband on Father’s Day. It seems natural to celebrate the father of my children but as a child, there was too much hurt and damage to even pronounce the word “Papa” to talk about and address my father. When I was able to utter it, my throat was swollen with pain and my eyes were wet with tears.

How do you wish an abusive father a Happy Father’s Day?

Happy?
Not a feeling allowed in that home.
Father’s?
Having children in a married relationship doesn’t make one a father.
Day?
Every single day was about him and his pleasure to dominate and break other people.

My father passed away a year ago. Do I miss him? I sure don’t miss the poverty he blamed on us children, the cigarettes he blew in my little face, the drunkenness, the constant yelling, the words and blows that break a child beyond repair. Nor do I miss his incomprehensible hatred of my mother’s “filthy race” and mine and of the entire human family, his hatred of women and the daily reminders that he wished he had had sons instead of daughters, or the people who bullied me and my sisters just because we were related to him.

Echoing the wisdom of the “Kleenex Generation” (people can be used and thrown away at will), some say that women in my mother’s situation should have abortions so they don’t bring miserable children into this world. What an insult! My mother loved us and never has she said “I wish you were not here”. I love my life too and no, I don’t wish I had been aborted.

It’s natural to be angry at people who hurt us, but maybe the father I had made me more compassionate to others. He was a sick man, and under the macho-man mask, there was fear and suffering. I choose to always give people the benefit of the doubt because I gave it to the man who broke me instead of building me. And certainly, his misogyny made me a feminist.

When I was in my twenties, my father went to counseling and took a medication for his paranoid disorder (which was part of the problem) for a few months and he was a different man. He even candidly asked my mother why his daughters never embraced him; had he done something wrong? He was either in denial or it was part of his symptoms to forget his actions. Unfortunately, he stopped going to counseling and went back to his old abusive ways when his psychiatrist retired. Untreated mental illness can do a lot of damage.

My mother never wanted to separate us, and chose to remain with my father until the end. While I think separation would have been salutary for us all, I admire her forty-one years of dedication to her family. I believe reconciliation and healing can sometimes happen and should be encouraged when possible. I don’t hate my father and I don’t mourn the man he was. But sometimes I do mourn the man I wish he had been.

Sometimes a father is a blessing, sometimes a father is a wound. Despite what happened, I don’t pray for God’s judgment on my father’s soul; I pray for mercy. He was never happy on this Earth, and I hope he is at peace now. I know that people can change even if I didn’t see it happen fully in him.

I wish my childhood had been different, but I want to move forward. I want to be the best spouse and mother I can, even though I struggle with some of my father’s traits. I pray that my sons and daughters know what parental love is and are willing and able to love their children in turn. May we never dread Father’s Day or Mother’s Day and may we have many reasons to celebrate life together.


Beatrice Fedor blogs at 400 Words for Women


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  • Christopher Fish

    hmm… I wonder what the author means by “I am a feminists”. In my experience there are good and bad ways of meaning that.

    • Micha Elyi

      There is no such creature as a ‘nice feminist’, dear.

      • Christopher Fish

        I guess I asked the question because I actually wanted an answer and didn’t have time to research it. Knowing the editors here though they don’t often promote people who do not believe in the full teachings of the church.

        The word ‘feminist’ can mean different things to different people.
        There is a type of feminist who believes strong in promoting the dignity , honor , and holiness of the famine genus and recognizes that legalized abortion and the use of contraception are below the dignity of women. That women and men should be treated as equal in dignity and majesty but are not interchangeable and that the relationship between the two can and should be complementary rather then adversarial.

        Such a person is a true ‘feminist’. I fully recognize that many who apply the label to themselves define the term feminist to mean ‘hatred of anything feminine’ so I was trying to ascertain where this particular writer was coming from.

      • Annabelle
  • Bucky Inky

    It was probably imprudent to give Ms. Fedor the public mike, especially on the occasion of Father’s Day.

  • KarenJo12

    The author is addressing a very important point; many, likely most, fathers are terrible. Her father was an abusive bastard whom her mother should have dumped like the trash he was. Ms. Feodor has managed to achieve a measure of peace in her life, at least partially because she believes women should never suffer like her mother, sisters, and herself. She thinks women are human, which makes her a feminist, and the two commenters are dreadful for questioning that.

    • Bucky Inky

      What is dreadful is constructing the idea the I question the humanity of women from my previous comment.

      Good day, KarenJo12. If I do not answer any more comments of yours, do not take it to mean that you have made an unassailable point.

      • Annabelle

        What is dreadful is constructing the idea that, based on /your/ comment, that you think, based on /her/ comment, KarenJo12 thinks /you/ question the humanity of women.

        I think I have made an unassailable point.

        • Phil Steinacker

          No, you have not – and to say so is simply false except, perhaps, in your own heart. What seems to have occurred, beginning with the author of the piece, is that three women terribly wounded by men and therefore, no longer able to be objective about men in general, have vented their oppressed feelings on this page.

          Bucky made a valid point, initially, and I’ll add to it by saying that perhaps this piece should have run a week after Father’s Day. One theme of her article was the extreme difficulty she has in handling Father’s Day, and it seems she has good reason. Many people – both men and women – who’ve come up in similar environments struggle as she does.

          Hence Bucky’s legitimate suggestion that running her piece at the time of publication might have been imprudent. Prudence would dictate holding the piece a week or two, and re-writing the intro in reference to the most recent Father’s Day.

          Doing so would avoid spoiling Father’s Day for those who do not so struggle, and also would give those who do a week or two to lower the intensity of the feelings they were -re-living over that holiday. Good for everyone.

          Emotionally wounded people often suffer the inability to be balanced and civil when they experience their wounds being stepped on by others’ comments, and are unable to discern that oftentimes such remarks are innocent of the offensiveness and hurtful nature they see in them.

    • Shannon Marie Federoff

      “Many, likely most fathers are terrible..” ?!?!?!?
      I’m sorry, we must run in different circles.

      How insulting to all the men (many, likely most of them) who do their best to be good fathers and husbands. Too bad the crappy ones get a lot of press, because the ones who are there day in and day out, reading books to their toddlers, making fudge with their 6th graders, teaching their teen sons to drive and their teen daughters to change a tire don’t get the respect they deserve.

      I’m married to an awesome dad, and we hang out with families who have involved, caring dads. Maybe you need to get out and meet more families? Most fathers are trying to do the right thing and be there for their kids.

    • Micha Elyi

      Feminism is the belief that men are not human.

      You fully qualified yourself as a feminist, KarenJo12.

  • Micha Elyi

    Beatrice Fedor pours her bile on fathers during the week of Father’s Day.

    Very feminist of her, too.

    • Phil Steinacker

      It appears she is still working out the pain of her wounds.

      It would be good for all of us to pray for her and all men and women who suffered abuse at the hands of those parents who rejected, abandoned, and betrayed them.

  • GHM_52

    What a blessed article! It is so true that parent-inflicted wounds are so hard to heal! But, you have managed wonderfully. God bless you, your Mom, your siblings, your husband and children and may your Dad’s soul may have found eternal blissful rest in heaven.

  • Annabelle

    As an incest survivor, I feel this article. Most women who are abuse survivors never muster the strength and courage to call their abuse by its name and to change their interpersonal dynamics for the better. (Ask any therapist about this.) As a result, we are normally chastised and misunderstood and called b*tches by those around us. Been there, done that. I live it. It has taken me years to rebuild my life and find friends who treat me with a baseline of respect and dignity. (This is my version of feminism, by the way, that women are treated with respect and dignity.) The first and most difficult thing was to learn that I did not deserve to be treated with the disdain and hate with which I was born and raised. Rejecting the dynamic of my family of origin and walking away from those relationships is painful and an ongoing source of grief, but necessary for my mental health and survival. My husband and kids are all thriving. It’s a good thing.

    If you can’t sympathize with the author, click on another story and move on. Get over yourself. Seriously.

    • guest

      As I read this article, I felt as if I was reading my own words. I agree with Annabelle, this article was written for a specific and hopefully small population of people. Many will not udnerstand. Many will be offended. You have to have lived it to get it.

  • Guy McClung

    There are “Feminists For Life.” They are not the me-me-me-self-self-self-abort-abort-abort feminists. Beatrice, God the Father is your Father, who made you and who loves you. This is the Father you pray to when you say “Our Father;” iI add in silence “my Father.” Your physical earthly father will forever be your father and I pray and will pray that you spend eternity with him in happiness. St. Dismas had a few hours in which not only to say “Lord,” but to do the Father’s will, and he did it. He is now in Paradise. Hopefully in hope your father has done the same. It may be to you and to others the height of moral irony that your father was not responsible for what he did and was not held eternally liable.God bless him and keep him, and you, and your mother and all your siblings. Guy McClung, San Antonio