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Your Life: Count the gifts, not errors, from your father

Charlotte Lankard: My father was not a hands-on, doting father. He assumed a role typical of the generation in which he was raised — the head of the house and the breadwinner. My Dad was also the maker of the rules — a Southern Baptist preacher with a set of beliefs that left no room for discussion.
By Charlotte Lankard Modified: June 9, 2014 at 3:46 pm •  Published: June 10, 2014
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My father was not a hands-on, doting father. He assumed a role typical of the generation in which he was raised: the head of the house and the breadwinner. My dad was also the maker of the rules — a Southern Baptist preacher with a set of beliefs that left no room for discussion.

If I had been a son, I suspect my father would have brought great pressure to bear on my vocation. Becoming a minister would have been at the top of his list. Since I was a daughter, it was strongly suggested that I become a minister’s wife or a foreign missionary. I never felt inclined to do either, much to my father’s dismay, I’m sure.

Nevertheless, I had a role to play: the preacher’s daughter. That meant everybody in the community would be watching how I acted. There were as many clear messages about what I was NOT to do as to how I should behave.

Today, a rigid, religious family with a controlling father would be labeled dysfunctional.

Was I scarred for life? Absolutely not. Oh, I can tell you what I disagreed with, as well as what I did differently with my children. As an adult, however, I look with different eyes and see his greatest gift to me was a strong belief system that has supported me through difficult, painful experiences.

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