Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Robert de Niro's new movie Everybody's Fine isn't getting great reviews, apparently because it doesn't ring true, it isn't realistic. Duh. The plot of this movie--the demanding, neglectful father visits each of his four children one by one in an effort to reestablish a relationship with them after their mother dies--is pure fantasy. In fact, I would venture a guess that this is the ultimate fantasy, one that trumps any scenario involving superheroes or Angelina Jolie in a bikini. The fantasy is that Dad will eventually get it, that he will see the pain he has caused, that he will reach out to connect and that he will take responsibility, thus freeing the adult kid from the shame of not being good enough for dad all those years. (Disclaimer: this isn't my own personal fantasy since my own dad didn't cause me a lot of pain and he is great about connecting in loving meaningful ways and he definitely takes responsibility. But I promise, if there were more dads like my dad, I would have a hard time making a living.) I'm glad the movie isn't believable because if it were, there would be just be more pain--why can't my father do something like that? why can't my dad say those things? Every now and then I have the rare opportunity to ask a father to write a letter of blessing and affirmation to a child, usually a son. I can't even express how healing that is to the child. But dads also say they will and then never get around to it. Or they try to bless but they just can't hold back the judgment. Oh, but when it happens, it's like magic.

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