By David Domzalski
I was blessed to have the opportunity to watch a film by John Finch called “The Father Effect.“ I tell you about this not to simply promote the film, but to tell you about the profound effect it had on me. If you’re a father or about to become one, you should certainly watch this film to get an idea of how much you truly influence your children. Yes, in everything you say and do even those things you don’t say and do. And for you sons and daughters (sons especially), watching this film could be the stepping stone to forgiving your father for his mistakes in raising you.
For me, this film really hit home in two ways. First, it showed me some of the deep-seated wounds I carry from my father. The main one centers around his criticism on my ability (or lack thereof in his mind) to play baseball. To this day, I have trouble throwing a baseball a short distance (maybe it’s yips). It’s like I’m Rick Ankiel or Steve Blass. It’s bad and it’s a total mind game I have with myself. Much of it stems, I believe, from those little criticisms that probably weren’t a big deal to my father. But, they affected me in many facets of my life.
Secondly, ‘The Father Effect’ really hones in on what fatherhood should be. No matter what happens, we are to love our children. More importantly, they must know we, as their fathers, love them. It forms the foundation for everything they do for the rest of their lives. John even shows us how the generational sins of a father progressively hinder the son. It begins with the grandfather, then father (the grandfather’s son), and then the son (the father’s son). And it goes on and on unless somebody says “Enough!” and breaks the cycle. As a side note, the film has a great example of ‘breaking the chain’ but I won’t give it away.
The film made me realize that our fathers are not bad guys (aside from the obvious exceptions). For the most part, they are little boys inside seeking approval and affirmation from their own fathers. We as their sons and daughters must understand this. Only then can we truly forgive them for our sake. I know I will screw up often as a father to my little boy, Davey, but I need to own those mistakes. Then, I must apologize. Most importantly, Davey must know deep down inside him that Daddy loves him. No matter what. Daddy loves his son, Davey. That is all that matters in the end.
Finally, ‘The Father Effect’ will give you a new appreciation for your Heavenly Father. It will show you how the relationship of God the Father and God the Son is our model as fathers with our sons. Further, the way we relate with our sons is how our sons will relate to God. He will see God in a similar way that he sees us. If the Lord has given us stewardship over our sons, we better not mess it up. Because we will have to answer for that one day. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to face the Lord on my last day knowing that it was me who turned my own son away from his Heavenly Father.
David Domzalski is an Orthodox Christian who is out to help others draw closer to God.