Does a person’s culture affect or influence the way they display affection or emotions? I know that sounds like a strange question, but I’m curious to know what you think.
Allow me to elaborate. There are some who say that men shouldn’t cry because it shows weakness. Why are men not allowed to show affection and emotion? Who came up with that standard of measuring manliness? Let’s look at this another way; I promise I have a point. I should probably just throw it out there…
When I was growing up, in my family, I spent a lot of time trying to gain acceptance from my father. I was an over achiever, perfectionist and… an emotional basketcase. It seemed like no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough. He never saw anything good in me. At least, if he did, he never told me about it. I can only remember him saying ‘I’m proud of you’ to me one time in my life. I was thirty two years old. My dad wasn’t affectionate either. I honestly think I blocked out a lot of memories, but I definitely remember a lot of awkward hugs as a kid. As an adult, I remember one-sided hugs. I would put my arms around him and he would just stand there. It sounds strange, I know, it felt worse than strange. Saying ‘I love you’ was even harder for him. I don’t remember hearing that much at all.
My mom was a completely different story. She was extremely affectionate and she wore her emotions on her sleeve. That has to be where I get it from. We were close, always.
My parents come from two different cultures. So, I often wonder, does that have anything to do with their differences regarding the affection or lack there of that they showed me. I tend to think it’s a possibility because I remember the way their parents were. Actually, I only remember my two grandmothers. My paternal grandmother had a hard time being affectionate and my maternal grandmother was the opposite. Are the traits of our parents’ cultures passed on to us? If so and we are raised by parents of different cultures, which traits are dominant? Why did I become an affectionate and emotional person like my mother instead of a cold and unemotional person like my father?
Here’s that honesty thing again… I pose these questions because I still struggle with the fact that I have never and probably will never be good enough for my father. Because this fact hurts so much, I have always distanced myself from him. I have only engaged in contact with him when absolutely necessary. You know, holidays, birthdays, etc. I have only spent time with him two or three times a year for as long as I can remember. A few months ago, we had a disagreement. Since then, I have completely cut off communication with him, along with some other members of my family. I try to pretend that I’m ok with it, but… I guess I’m not. I’m still angry and extremely hurt. And I’m wondering where to go from here…
I’ve discussed this situation with some of my closest friends. They’ve given me some pretty good advice and convinced me to follow it. My idea was to pretend like my dad didn’t exist. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But what does this solve? I had decided to love him from afar. I’ve forgiven him, but that doesn’t mean I have to allow him to be a part of my life. Not that he’d even want to be, but…
My friends made some good points and that’s why I’ve decided to take their advice. I will reach out to my dad. I will show him love, the same love that my Father in Heaven shows me, even when I do not deserve it. However, I am not completely ready to let my guard down. I am not sure I’ll ever be able to open myself up to that kind of pain again, but he will know I love him. I just cannot allow him to be in my life just yet. It’s possible I may never be ready for that, but at least he will see that I do have love for him.
My dad is always in my prayers. I also pray that God changes my heart towards my dad. I pray that He helps me get over the hurt and pain so that, maybe one day, we can have a relationship again.
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. – Philippians 4:13