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My father and I have not spoken for three years. I have offered three different times to let him visit his grandchildren so he can have a relationship with them. We only live 13 miles from each other. Although we had our differences in the past, I feel that he, as their grandfather, should still want to play a part in their lives. Any suggestions?
I can only imagine your disappointment. To reach out to the most important man in your life and not get the response you hoped for must be very hurtful.
I would like to offer the following advice, but first two caveats:
• No matter what happens between you and your father, your children should never become the pawns in your private misunderstanding. They are likely too young to understand and could only become resentful or confused by becoming involved.
• Even more important, regardless of the outcome and the hurt, you must always show the proper respect to your father as commanded by our holy Torah.
Something happened; maybe it was three years ago or maybe it had been building up for several years before that. Perhaps you know what it was. It could have been your choice of life-style, too religious/not religious enough; your choice of employment, you decided not to go into the family business or become the professional your father hoped you would; or perhaps it was your choice of spouse or where to live.
Or you may not even realize what caused the rift between the two of you. Sadly enough, your father may not be able to verbalize it either. That’s why it is so important for the two of you to clear the air. I would suggest you meet with your father specifically on his turf – in his office or living room. This would initially give him the feeling of being in control and having your respect. Allow him to vent his feelings. They may be searing and accusatory. You must listen, absorb, and try to understand his feelings. That is not to say for a moment that your father’s feelings or anger are justified. You cannot tell someone how to feel, you can only deal with those feelings. You might be guilty as charged or totally innocent. Either way, you must accept it as the basis of your father’s actions. Only then can you counter with your justification behind what caused him to feel as he does.
The “causes” may be truly irreversible. If so, you must both accept that. If, however, a middle ground can be reached, you must both agree to work towards it. But only once both sides understand the other can you begin to bring the two of you together.
You clearly care very much about your father. There is a saying that a grudge is a heavy burden to bear. Help lift your father’s burden by listening, accepting, adjusting (both of you if possible) and living together in harmony “ad me’ah v’esrim.”