Daughters not caught up in Father's Day as an occasion to celebrate, perhaps because of hurt feelings, can try several action steps in an effort to bring more warmth between them and their fathers, says a psychologist and expert on apology.
Dr. Jennifer Thomas, who co-authored the recently released book, When Sorry Isn't Enough: Making Things Right With Those You Love, told The Christian Post that walls of mistrust between some fathers and daughters are built up over a long period of time.
"The healing process will also take some time so get started today," she wrote in an email to CP. "If you offer an apology, do it without any expectation that your Dad will also apologize to you. When you have finished with your apology, STOP. Don't say the word 'but' because that will negate everything you just said. An apology that includes a 'but' is a non-apology."
In her blog post, "What to Do When... Father's Day Feels Awkward," Thomas encourages readers to think about reaching out to their fathers in a new way.
"If you two haven't been speaking, be the first one to pick up the phone or arrive for a visit," she wrote. "If there has been tension between the two of you, speak or write down an apology for your part of the issue. To find examples of effective apologies, refer the book I co-wrote with Gary Chapman, When Sorry Isn't Enough."
Thomas says that if a daughter is on speaking terms with her dad, but wants better communication, she could try these six things:
Give him a warm hug. He might also like to get a kiss on the cheek from his daughter.
Don't just sign a card, but write out what you appreciate in your father. If the only thing you appreciate is that he gave you life, at least write that down.
Spend time with your Dad doing what he most enjoys. You get bonus points if this is not an activity you enjoy but you do it with a smile.
If he lives far away, arrange to Skype with him. If you have kids, let them chime in and show off their recent projects.
Give him a gift that shows you were thinking of him.
Do something for him to help lighten his load.
Thomas adds, "Whatever you do, don't delay. Clear the air today. There are too many people who wish they had just one more day to spend with their fathers. Although no one is perfect, Dads are truly irreplaceable."
In a statement about their book the authors say, "The art of apologizing is not easy, but it can be learned, and it is worth the effort. Apologizing opens up a whole new world of emotional and spiritual health. Having apologized, we are able to look ourselves in the mirror, look people in the eyes, and worship God in spirit and in truth. It is those who truly apologize who are most likely to be truly forgiven."
When asked by CP why the subject of apologizing has been so important to her, Thomas answered, "I've seen in my own life and in my counseling practice that there are two essentials for healthy relationships. First, express love and appreciation so your love tank remains full. Second, apologize for inevitable offenses so you don't have barriers erected within your relationships. In my own marriage, this means that I need to speak my husband's love language (acts of service) and speak his apology language (accepting responsibility)."
She said that people often think a broken relationship cannot be repaired because they feel they have tried everything to fix it but nothing has worked.
"We give people a new angle on the problem and they are finding that their heated arguments cool down," Thomas explained. "What is our solution? Think about whether they might need to hear a different type of apology from you. If you've tried saying you're sorry, try these things instead: say specifically how you were wrong, offer to make amends, create a specific plan for change, and request their forgiveness."
Thomas has a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Maryland. She earned a BA in Psychology and Religion from the University of Virginia.
On the Web: http://drjenthomas.com