The Importance of (Even Imperfect) Fathers

Father’s Day is tomorrow, and it is a day when we celebrate the many fathers and father-figures in our lives. But it is also a day that can bring about mixed emotions. Many people grew up without the consistent presence of their father. Others grew up with a father in the home, but their relationship is strained.

Fr. James Kubicki, SJ stopped by The Inner Life™ this week to share his relationship with his own father, and why fathers (even the imperfect ones) are important.

Fr. Kubicki explained that while his father was a good man, he was far from perfect. He said, “There were things that, I have to say, I had to get over and undergo some kind of healing. To let go and just say he was a good father, but he was not perfect. And there were times that I was hurt by him. But I let go of that, and I’m grateful for what he did give me.”

Not only was he grateful for the good things, but Fr. Kubicki pointed out that he can look back at his life and be grateful for the ways his father failed, because it gave him the freedom to look to the Lord and see where He was calling him.

“Sometimes when we have parents who are not perfect that’s a good thing,” he said. “Because when they seem too perfect we can idolize them, and we can put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be like them. And I have to say that I did not have that sense that I wanted to be just like my father. At the time that I moved out of the nest and went to the Jesuits at the age of 19, I felt I was ready to move on, and I was going on a different path than the one my father took.”

And although you may have hurtful memories associated with your father, it is good to be able to look back and focus on the positive as well. Although he shared some painful memories of his own father, Fr. Kubicki also reminisced about the things he is grateful to his father for.

“A lot of times I hear that the fathers are not there with their families at Mass. And that’s a tragedy. But my father showed me that you could be a man and be spiritual, and practice religion,” he said. “So that is something that I’m really grateful for.”

“He was a friend. When I was nine years old he took up the game of golf, and I became his golfing buddy, his golfing partner,” Fr. Kubicki continued. “And so on his vacations he and I would go to various courses in southeastern Wisconsin, and we played golf together. We did something together, we spent time together. I can’t say that I remember having great conversations about life or anything like that. But it was just that awareness that we were together. I think that was important.”

Whether you fear that you’ll repeat your own father’s mistakes, or you fear you’ll never live up to your father’s good example, this Father’s Day is a good time to remember that fathers (even the imperfect ones) are important.

Fr. Kubicki explained, “I think part of growing up for me was realizing nobody is perfect. So part of the letting go of any kind of hurt or regret was a matter of accepting that. And I think that’s helpful, because then we accept the fact that we ourselves are not perfect. We bring our weaknesses to the Lord, because perfectionism can become a real enemy for us. It leads some people to scrupulosity. It leads some people to put such high expectations on themselves that they basically get physically sick. And so to be able to accept that my parents were good, not perfect, gives me the freedom to deal with my own imperfections as well.”

Listen to the full conversation with Fr. James Kubicki below:

The Inner Life airs weekdays at noon Eastern/9:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio® and the Relevant Radio App.