‘Praying Paralegal’ Asked:
I recently reconnected with my estranged father after 16 years by accepting his friend request on Facebook and traveling across the world to see him and. I still feel conflicted when I see his posts and question why I feel the need for his approval even after all these years. How can I separate the knowing of my worth regardless of what he thinks of me?
A Recovering People Pleaser
Dr. Zoe Answered:
What a huge step you took in reconnecting with him. I hope you acknowledge the enormity of your choice and the potential closure you provided to yourself in that action—regardless of the outcome.
Parents hold space in our psyche and emotional life. It’s completely normal for you to be curious about his life and envious of the people he may be sharing it with. Modern technology allows you to have a peek into what you could only imagine before.
I would guess, given that you two have been estranged, that your father hasn’t communicated much with you about what he thinks of you. I would also guess that any assumption you make of what he thinks of you is a projection of the story of what his absence means to you and your self-worth. It’s probably not saying anything good, and it’s not the truth.
It’s okay that you have feelings about how and with whom he lives his life. It’s okay to acknowledge that the space in your life where he should have been was filled with doubt, fear of rejection, and low self-esteem.
Every child—yes, even adult children—wants to know that they are loved and valued by their parents. The reality is that our parents are flawed individuals who are dealing with their own limitations, screw up royally, and mostly do the best they can.
His screw-ups are not a reflection of your value. The lens through which he sees you is not a reflection of your value. You have an inherent, God-given value that has nothing to do with him.
Who does God say you are? He says that you are wanted. He says that you are priceless and intentionally created for a purpose in this life that has nothing to do with the people who made you, because HE made you.
So, when you are deep diving on his Facebook page (and yes, you may want to stop that), and feelings, doubts, and negative self-talk start to seep into your consciousness, simply ask yourself the question, “Who does God say I am?” And answer it. Say this often until your brain starts to believe the truth.
You’ve got this! It just takes a little grit and grace.
Check out some more great advice from Dr. Zoe to help you speak to yourself in the positive, respectful, affirming way that you deserve…