A Note From Chris Adams: This Sunday is Father’s Day, and it’s not always a joyous occasion. Some women had very difficult and even painful dad relationships. Others never knew their dad. For many this may be a day of painful memories. As a part of our messy ministry series, Dr. Deb Douglas, First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA, shares ways we can minister to women who struggle with dad issues.
A dad takes his daughter out to dinner after playing catch with his son and cleaning out the garage while his wife has some much-needed down time alone. A picture perfect family—hard working mom soaking in a bubble bath, attentive dad, children eager to ask their dad’s advice as they spend time together laughing and chatting. Someone take a picture and post it!
Not all women have greeting card memories of their fathers. Instead their memories may include abuse, unfairness, abandonment, neglect, or even death. Father’s Day drags up old wounds from the depths of a woman’s soul. She may be married to man who is a fabulous father, but she dreads the day because she cannot get passed her past.
How do we help?
- Listen to the stories of women. Let them talk about their hurts. Recommend counseling if needed.
- Encourage women to listen to their father’s story.
- Pray for women with difficult relationships with their fathers.
- Be sensitive. Fortunately, most churches do not drag out the same type of contests that are done on Mother’s Day. Things like, who is oldest, who has the most children, who is the best? But we need to be sensitive when recognizing Father’s Day. To women who have bad relationships with their fathers or who have lost their fathers to death, Father’s Day can be emotional torture.
- Share your story.
Relationships with fathers can be complicated. They also impact how we see ourselves, how we relate to men, and most importantly, how we understand God the Father. For example, it was not until I was older that I realized the entirety of my Dad’s story including the depth of loss, pain, and suffering. Now, I choose to focus on the positive things about my Dad rather than his issues. I focus on things like the way he visited the sick in the hospital, or helped widows complete paperwork and insurance forms, or faithfully served his church, or regularly visited the nursing homes. He was human. He had issues. I do too.
How do we help when a woman comes to us with a complicated relationship with her father?
- Provide prayer support.
- Be available to her as she processes the relationship, the hurts, and the memories.
- Love her. When we are abused, neglected, or have unrealistic expectations placed on us by our fathers, we need to learn acceptance and unconditional love is available to us.
- Help her find the right counselor to help her work through the relationship.
We may not have that picture perfect family experience, but God is a good father! He loves us completely and absolutely. He sees us as His gorgeous girls. He is loving and supportive. He provides for us. And He is faithful.
Happy Father’s Day!
For more help and resources on ministering in the messy, check out Women Reaching Women in Crisis and Steps: Gospel-Centered Recovery or refer to the other articles in the Hurting Women or Ministering in the Messy categories.
Dr. Deb Douglas has served in women’s ministry for over 37 years. Now she spends her time working with Purchased Ministry, a ministry to women in the sex trade industry. Deb is also the Director of Biblical Counseling at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA. She was the first to graduate from New Orleans Baptist Theological seminary with a Masters degree focusing on women’s ministry and has earned a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is “Pearl” to 3 sweet grand babies, “Mom” to Jared Douglas and Katie Chavis, and wife/sweetheart to Paul Douglas.