APS – Absent Parent Syndrome
I hate my father, the man who worked 6 days a week for the past 25 years. Yet, somehow, I wish always he had time to spend with me, and never once let me down. Who in fact, worked 12 hours a day when my sister and I were toddlers so he could ensure that we would be provided for. Who with sadness, now looks back as he looks at his little granddaughter, because he doesn’t even remember what we looked like at that age, because he was rarely able to be home.
As salamu `alaykum Dear brother,
Your anger at your father for not being there for you as a child is understandable. Your frustration is obvious, but it is unfortunate that you did not tell him more about your situation.
It is quite common – especially these days – for children to feel frustrated with their parents. Parents often feel compelled to struggle with a number of uncertainties. The frustration that we feel as young people is natural and understandable in most cases.
Frustration, sickness and hostility all arise from the perception of rejection. All of our “hostility” is in reality nothing more than a manifestation of our rejection of their (our parents) rejection. The question, however, is what is the best way to deal with it?
When we, as young people, feel these things toward our parents we must first look at our options and try to understand the situation as comprehensively as we can, looking at it from all angles. Reality has dealt its hand so to speak. Allah has put us in this situation and now it is up to us to act accordingly. By acting, we must know that whatever course we choose; there will be repercussions not only for us, but for the parents that hurt us and the rest of our families as well. Therefore, we must choose wisely.
First, we can choose to be angry, resentful and frustrated our whole lives, and do our best to ‘teach them a lesson’ for what they did to us. Although the temptation for revenge is often enticing, this option will have grave consequences for us down the line as by doing so we will be merely ‘upping the ante’ so to speak and increasing the level of hostility, pain and anger that already exists within the family.
If we cannot learn to forgive, then this will be the result of our choice. Despite the injustices that we believe to have suffered, returning hurt to our parents for the hurt they caused us will not make the hurt we feel go away. Pain only brings about more pain.
A second option, which is also known as the high road or the road less travelled is clearly the more difficult one, but the one most beloved by God – one that is guaranteed to result in reward after reward for us as well as for our loved ones, insha-Allah . It is the path of understanding and forgiveness. There is nothing more beloved in the eyes of Allah than forgiveness and if and when we are able to understand and forgive those who have wronged us, Allah promises goodness for that person.
“And the recompense of evil is punishment like it, but whoever forgives and amends, he shall have his reward from Allah; surely He does not love the unjust.” (Ash-Shura 42:40)
“And those who shun the great sins and indecencies, and whenever they are angry they forgive.” (Ash Shura 42:37)
“And whoever is patient and forgiving, these most surely are actions due to courage.” (Ash Shura 42:43)
By seeking to understand our parents followed by forgiveness of their actions, we take a big step toward healing. This is the opposite of revenge and pain, which by engaging in, we merely cause more of the same until the situation becomes unbearable and a living hell for everybody. The high road of forgiveness corrects past wrongs and rights the ship so to speak, saving all those who might be on board. There is nothing like it in life and its power is unspeakable.
That is why it is so difficult without a doubt and only accomplished by an elite few. But the reality is that we are all capable of forgiveness, for Allah has placed His attribute and the potential of the oft-forgiving within all of us. We have the potential to do it and it is not impossible. It is one thing to beg for Allah’s forgiveness of our own sins, it is yet another to beg for the ability to forgive others, as our beloved Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi wa Sallam) did.
The latter path of understanding and forgiveness is what is needed, yet so difficult to treat. Perhaps not at this point in your life, but maybe down the road, you will decide to seek to understand your father better and find the ability in your heart to forgive him for what he has done, in the same way that Allah forgives us over and over again for all the heinous things we do every day. And never forget all that your father has indeed done for you, for we can never underestimate the good things that our parents do for us, even if we can only see their negatives. There are no shortcuts in these matters, but the choice is clear.
Kids need your presence not your presents.