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Q: Making peace with your father ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Making peace with your father
Category: Family and Home > Families
Asked by: dtnl42-ga
List Price: $80.00
Posted: 01 May 2005 01:32 PDT
Expires: 31 May 2005 01:32 PDT
Question ID: 516458
Stories and sources please to people who have made peace with their
father - is this particularly important for men to do? How can we do
it if they have passed away?
Subject: Re: Making peace with your father
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 02 May 2005 12:45 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
I have gathered some online references related to reconciling with one's father.


One of the most famous father/son conflicts in history was that of
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his father, Leopold. Here is a dramatic
description of the unhappy resolution of that rift:

"Vastly successful, Mozart can afford a life of luxury. The only thing
standing in the way of perfect happiness is a reconciliation with his
father. Following years of estrangement, Leopold returns to Vienna to
see his son... Leopold is initially enthusiastic, for Wolfgang shows
daily that he has become successful, well-off and respected in Vienna.
However, when Leopold realizes that he has become superfluous to his
son, his mood darkens. Wolfgang seeks reconciliation with his father,
but in vain. He gives him the mysterious box that has accompanied him
since childhood. Leopold opens it. It is filled with money that would
allow Mozart's father to quit his detested duties to the Archbishop.
However, Leopold misunderstands the present. 'What you owe me, you
can't pay for with money!' he shouts, and throws the box and its
contents at Wolfgang's feet.

Leopold runs off, and Wolfgang is unable to catch up with him. He
cannot comprehend why his father misunderstands him, and without the
approval of his father, he can't enjoy his success. Yet as an artist
he has to go his own way - there is no other choice. Deeply upset by
this final separation from his beloved father, Wolfgang slips into a
condition of mental confusion."

Theatre Musical: Mozart


Shakespeare's well-known version of the reconciliation between
England's King Henry V ("Prince Hal") and his father, King Henry IV,
was far from accurate. The actual "reconciliation" was achieved by
force, not by forgiveness:

"Equally legendary is the story of Henry's reconciliation with his
father, which the propagandists crafted to resemble the edifying
biblical tale of the Prodigal Son. Henry is supposed to have abased
himself before his father in a cloak full of needles to signify
thrifty intentions and to have earned, in return, a touching
benediction. The real scene was much less edifying. Henry's quarrel
with his father was not about the alleged youthful peccadilloes on
which the propaganda concentrated, but about the usual political
agenda: money and power. At a deeper level, Henry had every reason to
hate his father, who had neglected him in childhood and slaughtered
the father-substitutes to whom the child turned.

'Henry's quarrel with his father was not about the alleged youthful
peccadilloes..... but about the usual political agenda: money and
The immediate circumstances surrounding the old king's deathbed were
too urgent for sentiment. Factions were manoeuvring for power like
buzzards around bones. As the king's health crumbled, Henry and his
friends were out of office and excluded from patronage. This was a
serious matter for the prince, who had an expensive household of
toughs, lackeys, sycophants and freeloaders to keep up. He staged a
coup, bursting into the king's presence with a dagger in his hand and
an army at his back. What followed was not a reconciliation, but a
negotiation. The king got peace. Henry got power."

BBC: The Myth of Henry V


The artist Alfred Henry Maurer, after many years of disagreements with
his father, never achieved reconciliation, and committed suicide
shortly after his father's death:

"He returned to his father's house where he found no parental support
or understanding. The elder Maurer, satisfied with his own career,
rejected not only his son's modernist work, but also his son. For the
next seventeen years Maurer worked in a garret in his father's house
with neither financial success nor critical acclaim. He continued to
work and experiment, though he sold his work infrequently and at low

Having celebrated his 100th birthday in 1932, Maurer's father died
that same year, leaving his son financially secure and finally free of
his father's domination. Tragically, Alfred Maurer... took his own
life several weeks after his father's death. Some sources indicate he
was in ill health and filled with remorse at not having reconciled
with his father before his death. Others state that he could not exist
without an object for the hatred that had sustained him for so long.

Forum Gallery: Alfred Henry Maurer


From an account of a gay man, Rolando, who made peace with his father:

"During his second month of therapy, Rolando's sister called from
South America to inform him that their father had suffered a serious
heart attack. Rolando feared that he would never get the opportunity
to reconcile with his father. This crisis, along with experiences in
his new role as stepfather to his partner's daughter, led Rolando to
wonder what had gone wrong between him and his father. He strongly
wished to reestablish contact...

Rolando planned a visit to South America to see his father. In
anticipation of this trip, he felt anxious. He remembered his father
as an angry brute whose abuse wounded him physically and emotionally.
However, the man on the phone sounded sick and frail. The therapist
empathized with Rolando's anxiety and confusion. Rolando feared that
his father would denounce his lifestyle, and he needed assistance on
how to react in a way that protected himself but also maintained a
connection. The therapist coached Rolando to share his feelings with
his father if he felt attacked or to end their conversation and try
again later when his father seemed more calm.

Three weeks later Rolando returned to report on the success of his
reunion. Rolando was surprised to see how the frightening ogre had
become a frail old man who was now able to show tenderness. The topic
of his homosexuality was not broached directly...

Like many clients, Rolando wondered whether confronting his father
with his recollection of abuse would somehow improve his own mental
health. After much discussion, Rolando and the therapist determined
that while a cathartic confrontation might relieve his anger in the
short term, such action might also make his father defensive and
jeopardize the renewal of contact they both now wanted. A continuation
of the estrangement would not advance Rolando's emotional development
nor help him establish the father-son relationship they both sought.
During individual sessions, the clinician helped Rolando mourn his
unmet childhood need for nurturance from his father. Rolando realized
that if he could establish a relationship with his father now, it
might satisfy some of this need. As an adult, he could interact with
his father but also set limits, withdrawing temporarily to protect
himself if necessary."

Institute for Personal Growth: Family Therapy with One Person


The actor Richard Chamberlain wrote a book, "Shattered Love," which
details his turbulent relationship with his father. From a review of
the book:

"This memoir is about a lonely, shy little boy and his aborted journey
toward manhood. It is about his legitimate needs for masculine
intimacy and his attempts to meet those needs in a distorted way...

Chamberlain acknowledges his father's impact on his childhood and adulthood...

'The person I've hated most often and intensively is my father...But
mostly I experienced Dad as self-aggrandizing, hypocritical, and
covertly, but powerfully, suppressive to all of us, including my
mother. I felt subdued and powerless around him... Just as I was
preparing for an all-out war, Dad, a longtime smoker, was enfeebled by
emphysema...There would be no satisfaction in punching a dying man. So
it seemed as if I'd be stuck with my angry victimhood forever.'

Sadly, he never reconciled with his father. He thought about it, and
was determined to confront his father, but it was too late: his
father's illness and death prevented that from happening. Nothing was
resolved, "so it seemed as if I'd be stuck with my angry victimhood
forever" (p. 200). Eventually, Chamberlain decided that there is
nothing he actually needs to forgive his father for-- his father's
abusive personality was just a fact of life. Chamberlain finally
concludes that 'detachment and happiness and love are the best of
friends' (p. 222).

NARTH: A Psychological Review of Shattered Love


This article describes some of the long-term consequences that may
accompany an unreconciled relationship of a man to his father:

"A recent study revealed that when a group of male prisoners was asked
if they wanted to send a card to their fathers on Father?s Day, most
of them declined. But an overwhelming majority of the same men wanted
to send cards to their mothers on Mother?s Day. Most of the men
reported that they came from homes in which they had been emotionally
wounded by their fathers. As a result they were confused about their
male role in society. Basically, they were given a long list of what
not to do as males but were never instructed in what to do. Because
they never received affirmation or validation from their fathers, they
developed a distorted mix of needs for control, affirmation and

Research indicates many male/female difficulties are rooted in
unresolved emotional struggles that sons have with their fathers. The
term 'wounded father image' describes this disabling inner confusion
about the question, 'Who am I, and what does it mean to be masculine?'
 This unanswered question leaves a man with a distorted image in terms
of how to think, act and feel. For example, a man acculturated to
believe he needs to be firm may respond by being angry and judgmental.
If he responds with kindness and gentleness, he may perceive himself
as weak and vulnerable. Many men cannot reconcile the coexistence of
firmness and kindness. Men who go into adult life with such unresolved
wounds will unsuccessfully attempt to discover what it means to be
masculine through such actions as: choosing a career, getting married,
becoming a father, spending money they don?t have, developing
addictions, etc...

Healing from a wounded father image is a gradual process, which
usually occurs throughout the mid-life years. Healing comes about as
men work cognitively and behaviorally to transform the negative father
image that they have internalized. This process is greatly facilitated
by 'breakthrough' religious experiences and/or healing retreats."

El Rophe Center: The Wounded Father Image


Barry Neil Kaufman was able to help change the lives of both his
autistic son and his dying father:

"No Regrets is the deeply moving and triumphant story of the two years
that a father and son spent together looking into the face of death.
It is a tale of reconciliation during difficult circumstances, and an
exploration of the fear that can rip families to shreds and the
courage and love that can bring them back together...

Twenty-five years before his father?s cancer was diagnosed, Barry
('Bears') Neil Kaufman?s young son faced a diagnosis of incurable
autism. Bears and his wife Samahria rejected the prognosis and created
a program that rescued their son, Raun, from life in an institution,
enabling him to become an extraordinarily intelligent, extroverted and
gifted teacher/lecturer who bears no traces of his original condition.
Fascinated with the arena of human potential, Bears developed a
simple, yet profound process for personal change that he outlined in
his landmark book Happiness Is a Choice...

When he received a phone call from his father in which Abe Kaufman
revealed that he had been diagnosed with invasive cancer, Bears seized
the opportunity not only to help but also to heal decades of a
discordant relationship between him and his father. Based on the
life-affirming principles that enabled him to help his own son and the
thousands of people who have attended his seminars, he helped his
father to embrace this illness as an opportunity. Abe?s response - his
sweetness, growth, courage, and wisdom - tell us much about the
ability to choose inner comfort and peace of mind under any
circumstance. A touching and inspiring memoir, No Regrets explores the
healing power of love during the final stages of life."

Option Indigo Press: No Regrets


Dr David Stoop, the author of "Making Peace with Your Father" and
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves," makes it clear that
healing and reconciliation are possible even after one's father has

"People race to the deathbed of a father and don?t make it in time.
They think it?s hopeless, and I say no it?s not. It?s going to be even
easier because you?re not going to be tempted to go and ask him about
something. You don?t include the father in the process until it?s
finished. I think I?ve got nine steps in the book that we?ve
simplified in that you need to understand the truth of what was
missing, what was there that shouldn?t have been there, and what
wasn?t there that you wish had been there - getting a clear picture.
Now you don?t have to become an emotional archaeologist and dig up
every nuance, but just enough to get the picture of what it was and
remember what it was accurately. Then you go through a process of
grieving and the grieving involves anger and sadness. Men tend to have
the angry part and avoid the sad, and women tend to do the sad part
and avoid the anger. You?ve got to do both, because you got to move
through that grieving process. You probably need somebody you trust to
walk along with you, a trusted friend or counselor or pastor that will
kind of keep track of you so you don?t get lost in that process. If
dad?s still alive, I need to find some way to protect myself from
ongoing hurts. I need to limit it to some degree so boundaries become
important there. After I go through that process, then I forgive and
that means I cancel the debt. He doesn?t owe me anything anymore. It?s
like well how does a dead person owe you. Well he still owes me a lot.
It was absurd but it was what was going on in my heart. So you?re
canceling the debt, which means he doesn?t owe you. Now if my dad had
been alive what I would have done at that point, I think, is go to him
and say something to the effect of: 'You know dad, you and I really
don?t know each other. I pulled away from the family a long time ago,
and I really miss you. I wish we could get to know each other better,
and let?s spend some time talking."

Family Net Radio: Strength for Living


From an excellent and insightful article on "The Death Of Your Father":

"Recently, in writing a book about father-loss, I asked 70 ordinary
men what they did - or wish they'd done - to ready themselves for the
deaths of their dads. Here's their best advice for sons whose fathers
are alive:

Make peace with your dad.

This was by far the most common suggestion. Sons put it in a variety
of ways: 'Say what you have to say before it's too late.' 'As quickly
as you can, resolve those old issues.' 'If you have any conflicts,
clear them up.'

The reason for peacemaking: Sons who are estranged from, angry with,
or otherwise unresolved with their dads have the hardest time
recovering from a father's death. In addition to their sadness over
the loss, these sons often wrestle for years with regrets,
resentments, and might-have-beens.

On the other hand, sons who are at peace with the fathers tend to
mourn intensely in the short-term, but rebound more quickly."

DadMag: The Death Of Your Father


I'll close with a poem by the Native American poet Dick Lourie:

"How do we forgive our fathers? 
 Maybe in a dream? 
 Do we forgive our fathers for leaving us too often? 
 Or forever, when we were little? 
 Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage, or making us nervous 
 because there never seemed to be any rage there at all? 
 Do we forgive our fathers for marrying or not marrying our mothers?
 or for divorcing or not divorcing our mothers? 
 And shall we forgive them for their excesses of warmth or coldness? 
 Shall we forgive them for pushing or leaning, or shutting doors? 
 for speaking thru walls, or never speaking, or never being silent? 
 Do we forgive our fathers in our age, or in theirs? 
 Or in their deaths, saying it to them, or not saying it. 
 If we forgive our fathers, what is left?"

Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo: Pride for Fathers


My Google search strategy:

Google Web Search: "reconcile OR reconciled OR reconciliation with his father"

Google Web Search: "make OR made peace with * father OR fathers"


Thank you for a question that held great personal meaning for me. My
own father died in my home in 1991. The last words I spoke to him were
harsh ones (as were his last words to me). With every fibre of my
being, I wish it had been otherwise.

Best regards,
dtnl42-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Making peace with your father
From: sillyca-ga on 01 May 2005 08:17 PDT
There is a book I found, that I am still meaning to get.  Maybe it
will work for you.  "Embracing Your Father, How to Build the
Relationship you have always wanted with your dad."  By Linda Nielsen-
McGraw-Hill- Publisher
In the description it said it can help work through your feelings even
if the father has passed on.  It was geared towards daughters, maybe
you could get something from it.
Hope this helps,
Subject: Re: Making peace with your father
From: journalist-ga on 01 May 2005 13:58 PDT
Greetings Dtnl42,

Forgive me if this reads as blunt but...When you make peace with
yourself, then you are making peace with the person who matters most
to your life.  You must first make peace with yourself in order to
make peace with anyone else because in forgiving yourself first, you
gain the understanding on how to forgive others.

Articles that may assist you:

Writing your life
"A life shape or bigger picture becomes clearer with each story added
to it. You see as well with each story the beautiful life you intended
and the flawed but occasionally beautiful mess you have made of it.
This effort to write and assemble the stories of your life is a last
opportunity to make peace with the past, with that personal and social
context in which your life took root and flourished...The more you
have the courage to look, the more you will come to distinguish those
bridges of understanding you have passed over in your life. As you
ferret out each success, each important crossroads, each lesson, and
each important person, the past catches up to the present, and the
present reaches back with wisdom to enrich all that intervenes."

Ways To Make Peace With The Past And Create A New Future   
by Suzanne Gold


Making Peace With Your Past : The Six Essential Steps to Enjoying a Great Future
by Harold H. Bloomfield, Philip Goldberg

Make Peace With Your Past
by H. Norman Wright

Best regards,
Subject: Re: Making peace with your father
From: myoarin-ga on 01 May 2005 17:02 PDT
1 "Is this particularly important for men to do?"  
2 "How can we do it if they have passed away?"

1  I (male) believe it is, and that it may be more problematic than
for daughters with their moms.*  I see it as a conflict of the
generations; earning/deserving recognition and acceptance as an adult
with equal standing.
I have great respect for sons and fathers who have gone through this
and grown to be adult friends.
2  Read Journalist's advice, and if you happen to be a father, keep
the door open.  Keep in mind your own experience and don't let it be

"Writing your Life":  If you just admit openly to yourself or to those
near to you and your father that you wished you had made peace that
will be the greatest step.  Yes, it is a form of confession.  You
can't tell him any more, but you can try to come to peace with
yourself by letting others who care know that you regret/forgive
whatever either/both did.

*Grandmothers "in waiting" (only my observation!) accept this proof of
adult equality differently than expectant gandfathers do.  For the
grannies, who know they can't have any more kids,  it is confirmation
of the next generation.
For the gramps, who still think that they "might could", it is
confirmation that their manhood is no longer important.

"Stories please":  
I/we didn't; through distance avoided conflicts (and maybe remained in
father : teenager roles);
Two sons:  one "stood it out" and became a pastor like his father (+
gramp, gt. g, and gt-gt. g); the other son poured it out in a radio
play (the father was indeed "difficult", war amputee, for all his
being a pastor).

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