Forgiveness is my Favorite “F” Word
“Parentage is a very important profession, but no test of fitness for it is ever imposed in the interest of the children.”
George Bernard Shaw
Everyone has one. Some people hate theirs. Others can’t wait to escape.
Dynamics within families can be extraordinary, amusing, saddening, or disheartening. For Deanna, in Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr, her family dynamic was dysfunctional on a good day. In fact, Deanna’s life since the age of thirteen has been dysfunctional.
“I was thirteen when my dad caught me with Tommy Webber in the back of Tommy’s Buick, parked next to the old Chart House down in Montara at eleven o’clock on Tuesday night. Tommy was seventeen and the supposed friend of my brother, Darren” (Zarr 1).
Rumors of this incident swept the entire town of Pacifica and made Deanna’s life at Terra Nova High School hell, not to mention completely destroying Deanna’s relationship with her father.
As the school slut, Deanna finds herself as the outcast and only finds peace in the company of her friend Jason, when she’s out of her house.
Deanna’s home life consists of: a mother who works overtime every week; her brother, Darren, who lives in the basement with his girlfriend and their baby; and her father who won’t even look at her.
Although Deanna’s home life is far from ideal, her dad makes the situation truly miserable.
After pulling Tommy off of Deanna, Ray has not even looked at Deanna. He sulks around the house avoiding her and complaining about Darren’s girlfriend.
He sees his family as total disappointments: his tired wife in their crappy house, his young son who knocked up his girlfriend, and his slutty daughter.
After three years of this, Deanna finally confronts him. “You’re always going to hate me…for something I did when I was thirteen?” (Zarr 158).
He replies by leaving the house.
No denial. No I’m sorry, let move on. No I love you.
Instead, the severed relationship remains.
Surely, parenting is a challenging profession. Yet, all too often, parents inhibit their relationship with their children for trivial reasons.
At the point of Deanna’s confrontation, she just needed to hear that her dad say he didn’t hate her. She needed to hear the words I love you. Forgiveness would have allowed the much-needed healing to begin.
Yet, because Ray couldn’t let go of the night he found Deanna with Tommy, the wounds linger.
Dr. Jerry Weichman wrote that in order for parents to forgive their teenagers, they must see your teenager for who she is, not just who she appears to be. Deanna got the reputation of school slut, but that label doesn’t accurately define her even though her dad has also bought into it.
On the other hand, Deanna can also start her own healing process by forgiving her parents for doing such a crummy job of raising her.
Even though there are many methods of parenting, at the core of great parenting is learning, reflection, love, and forgiveness.