DEAR HARRIETTE: I have spent years being mad at my father about things that he did and said to me when I was a child. I grew up in his household, and he was harsh. He was a taskmaster, and he expected everyone in the family to do exactly what he said, or else suffer his glaring eye. I was so mad at him because I felt like he didn’t love me. He was rarely warm or kind.
My father has been dead a long time now. As I look at my own kids and those of friends, I realize that his lessons pushed me to excel. A lot of kids today are complacent and get away with not striving to be their best. My father’s methods worked. I still wish he were kinder, but I see the impact he had on my life, and it turns out it was good. He drove me to be responsible and successful.
My father is long gone. How can I forgive him and teach my children the benefits he gave me? I don’t usually talk about him kindly. -- Perspective
DEAR PERSPECTIVE: It’s great that you finally see some value in your father’s approach to parenting and life. This refreshed understanding should help you to forgive him. Next, you can begin to tell your children about him and the lessons he taught you. Be honest. He was harsh and consistent with his values and rules, and often, that upset you. Tell them. But also explain that because of how strict he was, you have developed a discipline and drive that have served you well. Attempt to teach your children the lessons he instilled in you, but without the hard edge. Point out when they are slacking and what the consequences may be.