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To Reconcile or Not to Reconcile

Originally published on November 9, 2011

Earlier this year, my wife Margaret and I decided to homeschool our boys. We agonized over this decision for more than a year, weighing our options and thinking about how to best support our sons as they grow and mature into thoughtful, service-minded, self-sufficient, and emotionally intelligent adults.

When I first mentioned to my parents about a year ago that we were thinking of homeschooling, my father made it clear that he could not accept this decision. He was absolutely certain that homeschooling would destroy our boys' lives, and he wasn't going to sit back and let this happen to his grandsons. He threatened to never see us again unless we sent our boys to school.

Because of his reaction then, upon making the decision to begin homeschooling this year, I thought it would be best not to discuss this with my parents. I knew that they would be upset, and I thought it would be best if they found out after they could see some of the fruits of our efforts with homeschooling.

After learning of our decision, my mom expressed her belief on kids needing to socialize with other kids, and tried to persuade me to re-think our decision. But after listening to our plans and understanding that we are giving our boys plenty of opportunities to socialize with other kids and adults in a safe and healthy way, she said that she would hope for the best, and that she had to trust our efforts.

My father refused to speak to me. Thankfully, he went on a scheduled trip to Korea, so I had a few weeks to peacefully take Margaret and our boys to my parents' place for our regular visits, and life continued as normal.

When he returned, I felt that enough time had elapsed that he would be receptive to having a conversation with me. So I gave him a call and invited him out to lunch, just the two of us to try to better understand one another.

It didn't take long for me to realize that he would not consider our thoughts on homeschooling. As he lost his temper, he told me that I had destroyed our boys' lives, that he would never forgive me, and that I had cheated him. Just before he hung up on me, he screamed that his two grandsons were walking into a burning building.

Sitting at my desk with a dial tone in my ear, I was shaken. It was nothing new to be at the receiving end of my father's wrath, bewildered by not fully understanding why he was so angry. But this time, for reasons I couldn't identify, I felt like he inflicted a permanent wound.

How could he be so certain that he was right and that our decision to homeschool was wrong? Why couldn't he at least consider some of our reasons for homeschooling? And the most difficult thought for me to reflect on: How could he say that he would never forgive me for this decision? As a father of two boys, I simply cannot imagine saying such a thing to either of my sons - to me, it's like telling my boys that I don't care about them.

Over the next couple of weeks, I tried to find peace within. I reflected in solitude and sought counsel from those I'm closest to. I had to believe that there wasn't much I could do about my father's tyrannical approach to dealing with conflict. I had exerted genuine effort to reconcile with him, and he responded by puncturing my heart with his anger. What more could I do?

All of my thinking pointed to one thing: To preserve my health and to protect our boys in the future from my father's inability to resolve conflict in a peaceful and thoughtful way, the right move was to not contact my father and give him the opportunity to make good on his threat to never see us again. Intellectually, this felt right to me.

Over the past two decades, my older sister has been able to approach her relationship with our father with just enough apathy to preserve her health. She decided long ago that her feelings were not a top priority in his life, so she would not make his feelings a top priority in hers. And in knowing her all this time, I can see that this approach works for her. She is happily married, has a fulfilling professional career, and is delighted to be a mom to my treasured niece. She isn't held captive by feelings of sadness or guilt over not having a closer relationship with our father.

This is what I thought I should do as well. To preserve myself and the family that I am raising.

But alas, it didn't take me long to realize that to be indifferent to my father - as much as I sometimes feel his behavior justifies this - is not to preserve my health, but to more quickly erode it. My hard-wiring is different from that of my older sister's. I don't feel more at peace by giving him a stiff arm. I feel more anguish by the day.

Why my hard-wiring is this way, I don't know. He did give me the gift of being confident in my abilities. As a five or six year old, I remember lying beside him in bed while he would list all of the things I was good at. Our times playing catch in the backyard - even the time when I accidentally launched a ball through a basement window - are bittersweet for me - bitter because I was always one mistake away from his disapproval, and sweet because nothing felt as good as seeing my father proud of my abilities. Maybe these and other similar memories that are deeply embedded into my grey matter are responsible for me not having the mechanism that my older sister has to cut off when indicated and move forward.

Bottom line: Indifference wasn't working. So I decided that to care for myself and those who are affected by my health status (mainly Margaret, our boys, and my mom), I needed to find a way to reconcile with my father. With this goal in mind, I turned to the one thing that I have found to be consistently effective in soothing my own hurt feelings: I tried to get into my father's head.

Physically, he is all of his 69 years of living. But emotionally, he is still the seventh of eight siblings growing up in Korea, emotionally and physically neglected in almost every way.

When my father thinks of school, I imagine that he remembers sitting at attention with his friends in class, thirsting to please their teachers and earn top grades. I think he remembers being able to talk and joke freely with his peers during recess, something that was impossible at home around his parents, where children of that generation and culture didn't have an open invitation to make requests or bring up their own ideas in front of their father. To him, going to school was liberating. It was a place where he could learn, hope, and dream.

Being the ultra conservative and oddly sentimental chap that he is, my father assumes that public school in western society today is an oasis that provides the same blend of salvation and guidance that school gave him as a child in post-war Korea.

And being the father of his own family, though he recognizes that his children grew up in Canada, he expects my sisters and I to show him the same respect that he gave to his parents, which is to say that he tends to get massively offended whenever we don't think to consult with him before making any major decisions, even those involving our own children. As a seventh child who received so little attention, what he craves most is respect, and when he feels disrespected by his children, he loses his temper.

Even today, Korean culture is such that when all of us sit down to eat together, none of us dares lift up a spoon or chopsticks until our father has eaten his first mouthful. In traditional Korean families, the father is King. Though he doesn't necessarily relish everyday displays of subservience, he expects them and accepts them as normal, just as the rest of us do.

Marinating in these and other thoughts gave me the strength I needed to call him one more time. It wasn't an easy conversation, but a conversation it was.

Ultimately, I knew that he desperately missed seeing his grandsons. I also knew that he would not change his stance on public vs. homeschooling. He made it clear that he knew he was right, and that he had zero interest in hearing our thoughts on why we decided to homeschool for now.

As frustrated as I was with his stance, my goal was to make it possible for him and my mom to visit and spend time with their grandsons. So I repeatedly emphasized that I understood that his stance was out of his love and concern for our boys. I stressed that Margaret and I have hopes and dreams for our boys, just as he does. I told him that I understood that he felt that we were going to fail, and I asked him to try to trust us and to hope that our efforts turn out to be good for our sons.

It was an hour-long conversation, one that he tried to end several times. It was almost as though he knew that he could blow at any moment.

And then, close to the end, he blurted out his main grievance. He said that I destroyed his dream.

"What was your dream, dad?"

"It was to move up to your neighborhood, hold each of my grandson's hands as I walk them to school, watch them go into their classrooms for the day, and then in the afternoon, to go and greet them after class and walk them home. That was my dream, and you took it away from me."

So this is why in our earlier conversation he angrily accused me of cheating him. I had cheated him of this dream.

I was thoroughly exasperated. I wanted to tell him that this was one of ten thousand examples of his self-centeredness. It's good to have dreams, and I'm glad that you love your grandsons this much, but you ripped my heart up because all you could focus on was your dream? These are our boys, and we have dreams, too, dreams for them, and this is why we as their parents are making the sacrifice of homeschooling our sons.

I wanted to holler this. But I knew all too well from experience that if I raised my voice and started with these thoughts, he would hang up on me and we wouldn't communicate until the next time I could gather enough strength to call him.

So I told him that I was really sorry that that particular dream couldn't come true just yet, but I asked him to look forward to other dreams involving him and his grandsons, like going to tennis tournaments, family vacations, and even one day going to set them up wherever they choose to go to university.

I asked him if he was okay if I brought the boys for a visit sometime. Though I knew he wanted this more than anything, his pride wouldn't allow him to say yes. After several seconds of silence, all he could manage was a quiet "you decide."

But I had to know that he wouldn't give our boys pressure about going to public school. So I said, "dad, I just want to know that you won't give Joshua and Noah pressure to go to school, that in front of them, you'll be supportive." He immediately cut me off and told me that this was a great insult. How could I think that he, a 69-year old man, would give his 6-year old grandson that kind of pressure?

I apologized. I explained that I had no intent to insult him, I just had to be sure.

And that's where we are today.

I'm left feeling like I made it out of a minefield, grateful to be alive, but severely debilitated from stress.

How are we to deal with adult family members who, for any number of reasons, don't have the ability to think very far beyond their own perspective? Should we continue to maintain relations with someone who chooses to bully to try to get his or her own way rather than engage in respectful conversation?

To reconcile or not to reconcile, that is the question. And in considering the starkly different approaches that have worked for me and my older sister, I'm left feeling like there is rarely an easy answer.

I suspect that my father is similar to most people whose family members have strongly considered giving up on. He has good intentions. He fully believes in his own righteousness. He feels moved by God Himself to correct faulty life decisions by his children.

As the seventh of eight siblings growing up in a one-room home in South Korea, he was the only one who would help his grandmother to her chamber pot whenever she needed to go. He would wipe her clean while some of his siblings complained about the wretched smell. Why did he do this? Because his maternal grandmother often held him in her lap. She told him stories, mainly about Jesus. She prayed for him. To a boy who rarely if ever received an ounce of physical affection from his exhausted and likely disillusioned parents, the love that he received from his grandmother was probably more life-sustaining than bowls of rice, broth, and kim chi. How do I know this about my father's childhood? My father's oldest sister, my dear aunt in New York City, told me.

The thing is, none of these details likely matter to most of the people that my father has interacted with over the years. Why would acquaintances put aside their hurt feelings and judgments to consider why my father sometimes behaves like a tyrannical dictator?

How do you save a person like my father from his self destructive ways of thinking and being? I hope that I'm wrong, but I no longer believe you can. A person can't change into something that he can't feel. A person can't give something that he doesn't have. Just as you get orange juice when you squeeze an orange, when you squeeze my dad at this point in his life, you get mostly a cocktail of grievances.

I'm relatively certain that our recent rift over homeschooling isn't the last time my father will feel that I have wronged him. It won't be the last time that I will feel like my father doesn't care about my feelings. If this experience has taught me anything, it's that for me and my dad, I need to find a way to reconcile. I don't really know how to handle the alternative.

More than anything else, I write all of this as a release for my endocrine and nervous systems. Yes, my father may stumble upon this post, and if he does, well, dad, you know that I have expressed every thought here to you in person. You know that despite my flaws, I have tried to be a good son. So please forgive me for insulting you and please know that I needed to write this with hope that it will mean something to someone out there.


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Wow - now that is a wonderful, well-thought out letter to your father! Generational and cultural differances are obvious in your conflict with your father - but also you have got it just right, when you state that his tyranical approach to your life is too much stress for you! It is a form of great selfishness when an older parent punishes their kids for something that is happening in their own heads - I sometimes do it myself with my children and have to give myself a stern talking to - but it still happens! You have so got it right - you have figured out where he is coming from and why he is acting this way, as it relates to his own experience in life, and you have been very humble and respectful to him, but now you are strong and can say enough is enough - these are our children and our decisions! I so enjoy your newsletters - thank you!

I certainly know how it is to have a father that is impossible.. mine was. In a way I envy you your Father, for at least he cares about you and your family, no matter how overbearing and self centered he may be. My Father cared nothing for his children.
I can even relate to his dream of living near his Grandkids and walking them to school.. it may a very small dream, but I have had similar little dreams like that, (not that one though) which can never come true as my grandkids moved far from me, after their mother and father divorced, and I never see them.

I would never interfere, I know I have no rights and no influence, but that dosen't stop me having my little daydreams about teaching them to bake cookies or taking them to visit Santa Claus at the mall.

Couldn't you suggest something he (your dad) could do with the kids? Maybe ask him to teach them something Korean? Or take them to a movie or whatever seems like something all would enjoy? Maybe it would help.

I am very sorry for this life lesson you are experiencing; how to forgive unconditionally. It is hard, but the greatest gift that we can give to each other. Forgiveness is the truest form of love.

Very touching letter, and something I have gone through in my own ways as well. You have many responses about others who have been hurt and gone through healing, but I wanted to focus on your dad's dream. All of us have dreams for our children and grandchildren. If it had been me, I would have probably thanked him for sharing his dream with me, and then told him that rather than God, through you and your wife, taking that dream from him, He was giving him and even greater fulfillment of the dream, by allowing him to not just walk your children to school and back, but actually take them by the hand with life lessons given by him. That he would now have so much more precious time with those boys share himself and his God with them. I think I would let him know that you consider that input more valuable than anything they could learn at school.

I recently taught a VBS for an Asian church retreat. It was fun, but really kind of sad. I saw that public education had become the parent's and grandparent's god for their children, and for the most part, the children were already lost to them because of it. They lived in different worlds and cultures and the respect that had been there in the culture for centuries was just not there but on the surface. Give your father a few years of seeing his grandsons growing in respect and love for God and others, and let him see the difference in other children, and he will come to you and thank you for your wisdom and foresight and he will apologize for this. Time is a great healer, and love covers a multitude of sins.

To martyinred . . .I believe your response to be full of the wisdom and love of God. Well said.

And, to Dr. Ben . . . Thank you for sharing your heart, your pain, and for the many ways you teach and help so many people. I pray that the truth, and kindness, and wisdom you share will return to you 100-fold.

To Dr. Ben Kin, on martynred's comment. I agree with Cathy that martynred's comment is full of love but I wouldn't expect your dad to apologize in the future. Something I've told many friends through the years is that whenever we have a quarrel or a disagreement with someone we must stop ourselves on further expectations of that person coming to apologize or discuss the matter in a rational way. We many time exhaust ourselves by imagining how that scene would be, what we would say in order to have the last word and to clarify the point we really wanted to make before. Sometimes, ( I say this becuse it used to happen to me) we even imagine or create an imaginary dialogue where the person replies exactly what we want him or her to reply and what we would say in return. Later on, when we are approached by this person or when we try to force an approach, most of the times, of course, we find ourselves frustrated because we had great expectation on the conversation and it doesn't turn to be what or how we wanted it to be. I would just let things go, forgive and forget not expecting any retribution in the shape of an apology o some sort of approval.

Jesus taught us that if we know someone has something against us we must go to him and settle things in order to be in peace with all, but we will never feel in piece if we bet on someone coming to us to apologize because we felt hurt.
Just try ('cause it's no easy) to love as you love yourself, with errors, defects and knowing that in essence all humans tend to be selfish by nature.Having this in mind, just try to let go on those pains and sorrows caused by your dad, and continue to love him for all the positive things you got from him. In other words, taking the good things and casting out the negative ones.

This is a beautiful, profound, honest, article. Dr, Kim, my mother introduced me to your website and blogs. I love reading them. Thank you so much. I think we can all related to these hardships. It's something we all deal with and rarely ever talk about in a healthy way. I think you did just that-you gave us all an example how to go about a situation like this in an adult, healthy, mature, conscious way. I personally have a tremendous amount of respect for that. Thank you for sharing.

Abusiveness of a parent or in-law is one of the most stressful experiences of life; however, it also provides opportunity for the most important growth we will ever receive -- to become truly Christlike in our conduct toward our enemies (anyone who opposes us unrighteously). In the Sermon on the Mount Christ taught the antidote for the autonomic nervous system when he said that if we want to be our Father in Heaven's children (or his heirs), then we must pray for the Lord's choicest blessings to be upon our enemies.

There are those who wrong us and those we do wrong to. True forgiveness and praying for the Lord's choicest blessings to rest upon those who wrong us, fills us with peace and brings harmony to our autonomic nervous system. It is not our job to change them; that is Heavenly Father's full-time job. Our job is to do as the Savior and to truly love those who abuse us. As we pray earnestly for them, we are filled with heaven's love for them and that love becomes a shield and protection to us against abusive behavior.

Reconciliation is what one must strive for who has aught in their heart towards another. In this case, if you have forgiven your father and love him, you can go forward as if everything were normal, including taking your children for visits to see him and so forth. The aught he carries toward you is entirely his burden and responsibility. If he ever sees clearly, which he may not, then he will seek reconciliation. If you have forgiven him and love him, then you are already reconciled... The fact he remains unreconciled is a matter of the aught he has chosen to hold to.

The Savior taught that when His disciples sought occasion one with another, they were sorely grieved and afflicted. In other words, their autonomic nervous system similarly was stressed, which leads to real physical affliction. He commanded, "I will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men." If you have forgiven truly His abuse, then you are reconciled to God and to your father. Your father will have to choose for himself if he prefers grief and affliction or reconciliation to God and you. Your requirement, if you would have peace is to forgive and love your father.

This is the true doctrine of reconciliation.

Dr. Kim, I admire your bravery at tackling this subject in such a public way. Obviously people have very strong feelings about homeschooling -- your father included -- but that's not what you were writing about. Reconciliation is the topic. I like the idea that someone suggested about substituting his walking the boys to school with walking them somewhere else, like to and from the park or library or ball diamond. I have another suggestion. Can you convince him that the homeschooling is not a permanent decision? That your family is only trying this arrangement for this one semester or this one school year? (Taking a cue from Alcoholic Anonymous crowd's one-day-at-a-time mantra.)

I'm estranged from my older brother. I've lived in fear of his tormenting and abuse. When I turned 25, a therapist told me, "You don't HAVE to ever see him again. You are an adult now and you can CHOOSE." It was the most liberating idea, and I've never looked back. My relationship with my brother was nothing but bad, and it felt good to just cut it off. However, you have a strong bond with your dad and many good memories. So it must be agonizing to have this stalemate with him. My heart goes out to you.

I hope that the two of you will be able to come to terms and just agree to disagree on the matter. Put the matter into perspective; it is a disagreement and not the end of the world, especially if it is done one semester at a time.

You obviously love one another. Don't hesitate to <strong>tell him that you love him</strong> every single time you speak with him, Ben. It might just soften his heart a little. One last thing: I was curious if you do any formal meditation. Sometimes it can help in circumstances like these. Just breathe, keep a calm mind, and this all will work out.

Just now reading this post and wanted to send you some encouragement, Dr. Kim ... When we decided to homeschool back in the 1970's, it was illegal to do so in the state where we resided. We did not want to go to jail over our decision, so we went to the school superintendent and told him of our intentions and asked permission. He gave it, and we homeschooled for the next 8 years our two children. During that time homeschooling became legal in our state. When we started homeschooling, we did not know a single other family who was doing so. By a few years into homeschooling, we were members of several homeschooling groups. It was a wonderful experience. Our family did not understand, either; in fact, they had never heard of such a thing. They didn't voice much disagreement, but you could tell they thought we had lost a few marbles. After several years and they saw how both our children were thriving, they did an about-face in opinion about our decision to homeschool.

You are being very gracious to your father, and I admire you for that. Your dad is totally unreasonable. I can say this, because now we are grandparents. This is the way we see it: we had our turn making decisions we felt were right for our children when they were growing up, now it's our grown children's turn to make the decisions they think is right for their children (our grandchildren) ... and guess what? Neither of our grown children are homeschooling their offspring! Yet many of our neices are homeschooling their kids even tho their parents DIDN'T homeschool them ... Go figure! Anyway, we know that our grown children are making their own decisions for their children and we are totally supportive of their decisions even if we don't agree with them. Agreeing has nothing whatsoever to do with it. We give our opinions when asked, of course, but always in a respectful way (everyone is due respect), then we drop the matter and go on enjoying as much relationship with our grown children and grandchildren as we can.

I'm glad you are able to walk in a true spirit of forgiveness with your dad, Dr. Kim. I know this must be very hard considering the situation and how your dad not only does not treat you with the respect you are due but does not extend any forgiveness to you, either. A double whammy! You are doing what you should, however, hard as I'm sure it is.

There was a time when my parents estranged themselves from me. Then another time when my mother slammed the door in my face ... over nothing. I had not been rude nor disrespectful to her in any way. Like your dad, it was just her (awful) way of dealing with her frustrations. Keep in mind that she was living nextdoor to me at the time, and it was a door that I had purchased with my own money and installed for her (we built the house they were living in and had moved them here to help them in their older age). When several attempts to work things out (i.e., find out what she was angry about) failed, we left it alone for quite awhile, eventually reaching back out to her again when Mother's Day rolled around. Eventually she warmed back up. I felt angry about the time that we lost in the meantime. She is no longer with us now; she died over 4 years ago. I think that we do the best we can, keep extending the olive branch of peace as God gives us grace to do, pray and leave the rest up to God. I cannot tell you how many times she hung up on me over the phone ... again, as I'm sure is the case with you, too, it wasn't because I had said anything rude nor inappropriate to her at all. She would just become angry over any number of things and hang up abruptly on me. It wasn't right. And it's not right for your dad to treat you the way he is treating you. During the last few years of my mother's life, I did what I could to try to bring more emotionally health into our relationship, and I did this more for myself than for her. Most of my efforts, tho kind and sane, often blew up in my face, and very few of them produced any positive effects in our relationship or enhanced the level of respect with which my mother treated me. However, I know now, looking back, I did my part, everything I could toward emotional health and maturity with her, and I'm very thankful for that.

All you can do is continue to forgive your dad, continue to extend olive leaves to him and continue to press toward emotional wellness in your relationship, whether he complies or responds positively or not. You can only do what you can do, then leave the rest to God. My prayers are with you. I'm so sorry you have had such a dysfunctional relationship with your dad. I think you're doing the best you can with it. God bless you for your very gracious efforts!!

This is a very amazing story. My opinion and experience from also being brought up by a father who expects respect but doesn't value my opinion is ,it's you family and he should have no control over who you are or what you choose to do for you and your family.
My translation of respect from my father is 'control'. They believe their needs are more important than a child's. Even when that child grows up to be an adult and also marries, they still believe they should have the same control over them that they had as a child.
Loving and showing respect to your father I think is very important but running you life so that he approves of you actions is not living for yourself but for his respect or approval.
He won't change as my father won't but I refuse to sacrafice my rights as an adult just to let him get his way.
He has no say in your life he does not own you anymore. If he wishes to stop seeing his grandchildren he can carry this bitterness.I believe you need to break away from feeling the anger that he has blamed you with for making a choice about YOUR family.
Good luck.

Really enjoyed reading this. To me, working through disagreements and hurt feelings such as in this situation, is what family is all about. We've all got our differences and difficulties getting along. But if you are family, you don't give up. You persist and get through one way or another. And even in the worst arguments and fights, the love is there, and at least an attempt at understanding. Well done, Dr. Kim!

I appreciate you sharing this painful part of your life with us.
For any of you out there who would like to reach a new level of understanding as it relates to dealing with conflict and the pain that results from it, if you can read the book Total Forgiveness by RT Kendall.

What a great stand to take, and put in the work to make it happen, and put in the thought and care to follow thru with the detractors.

Our kids are grown, but we discovered info about the origins of school system non-education, have ordered books The Leipzig Connection, Why Johnnie Can't tell Right from Wrong, and Why American Children feel good about themselves, but can't read, write or add.
These titles were found while researching after hearing Charlotte Izerbyt on youtube (infowars interviews, fascinating).

Also heard about McGuffey readers, 1800s readers from beginner to advanced when kids had massive vocabularies and commmand of language, and ability to memorize, things all but lost now.

Thank you for sharing this intimate experience and your profound insight and compassion. While it is a heart-wrenching situation, I'm inspired to see how graciously you are handling it and how attentive you are to preserving your own health. Please know that you and your family are in my thoughts and that your story has given me encouragement to deal with some of my own family challenges. I am also sharing it with friends who I'm confident will benefit from reading it.

What a great stand to take, and put in the work to make it happen, and put in the thought and care to follow thru with the detractors.

Our kids are grown, but we discovered info about the origins of school system non-education, have ordered books The Leipzig Connection, Why Johnnie Can't tell Right from Wrong, and Why American Children feel good about themselves, but can't read, write or add.
These titles were found while researching after hearing Charlotte Izerbyt on youtube (infowars interviews, fascinating).

Also heard about McGuffey readers, 1800s readers from beginner to advanced when kids had massive vocabularies and commmand of language, and ability to memorize, things all but lost now.

Ben, what a heartfelt story - first it take two to reconcile - I think at this present time for you this is a fervent hope...but it only takes one to forgive...and believe me when I say that after 40 years of my father's jealousy of me, his rage against me, some brutal physical actions upon me, I finally looked at him one day and thought to myself - this is after trying to figure him out, much as you have done, they just can't get over it, or suck it up, as we can and do...they just won't or can't - but we can..

.My Dad was so old school, he could not drive, but loved to go out for drives, especially funnily enough if it was just the two of us....he would insist on stopping at a country ice cream shop, and buy me a triple, as he did when I was a good little girl...on such an occasion,when I brought him home, and told him I had to hit the road, instead of just waving good-bye and saying I'll call you soon, .I simply put my arms around my Dad's neck - told him I have always loved him, told him I had forgiven him such a long time ago in my heart for all of our differences - and because I did forgive him the continuing insults did not enter my spirit and rolled off me as if he had not committed them at all...I understood it was the only way he knew how to deal with the many hurts and disappointment that life had dealt to him...

Ben, the look on his face was something to behold...and the burden of hateful memories I had carried for 40 years melted away - as we held each other in a tearful long embrace..I also told him what a wonderful job he had done in molding my personality - so well, that it appears as if he was actually jealous of his own success at time, and that I was so grateful that he loved me enough to never stop "his kind of molding" - our tears turned to laughter, and Dad if you are looking down on us know still I meant every word, I am smiling as I write this...and I know deep in my gut, you did the best you could to protect me with all the loving intentions in your being...and you were a great success as a father....even today some 50 years later I marvel out loud at your wisdom, which I share with your grandchildren..... your ability to foresee a future where butter would be $4.50 a pound, when at the time it was .75 cents, that pure water would be bought and sold and would no longer be plentiful, that a country as great as Canada would have a homeless population.... ..that good books would be harder and harder to come by as reprinting them would far too expensive...and it was imperative that we kept the copies of the they taught metaphorically so much about any age...and often retaught things forgotten but should be Ben, let the home school decision not be his, not be yours,but be that of your children...They alone will brilliantly display the fruits of your efforts to the whole family ... as a child I often came home and complained about my teachers - but I was allowed to voice my as you and your wife, and mother see the value in what you are attempting to give to your children, they too should appreciate the value of your loving sacrifice....they will understand it more when at examination time, their understanding of their subjects will translate into excellent marks..and a wonderful confidence. If there are weakness in anything, these can be dealt their own speed...not that of a class room...thank you for sharing Ben - your children are so fortunate, your mother must be so proud of you....and while education is the key often to a fulfilling life, the ability to say with all your heart, I LOVE YOU...and often - face to face, in a card for no special occasion - is truly a gift, that hopefully gets passed on and on.....and so Ben, I say to you - Your father in his way loves you more than you realize...more than he even realizes....Blessings to you both. Life is a journey - thank you for sharing yours with us.

very hard experience to go thru, but a great attitude . we are all in school(Rom.8:29,30-31).................bill

very good information for life

Your cultue and respect for your elder are reflected in your letter.However these are your boys, you and your wife make major decisions that will affect their lives. It is time that your father "get with the program" or get off the bus. Homeschooling can be just as effective as regular school if properly done.
Good luck!!

It's surprising how many of us, especially children from immigrants struggle with the duality that becomes our lives when we move to a foreign country. As a Jamaican woman who spent half her life in the US, I understand the matriarchal and patriarchal devices used on children. I was brought up firmly to believe adults are always right. What your parents say goes. Sometimes at the detriment of your well being (as a child). I still struggle with this today as an adult. My relationship with my mum mirrors yours with your dad. Except hers stems from years of abuse at the hands of my father. I have put in tremendous energy in our relationship since the age of 16 but to no avail. She has decided our relationship should remain formal in nature. Hearing that from the woman who birthed you is incredible. After a while I have learnt to be like your sister for my own sanity. But I wish things were different. My mother's older sister raised me from the age of 2 and she too has never seen me as an adult. I had such a bad interaction the last time I saw her I fear our relationship is now nonexistent. Not because I haven't tried but because she was unwilling to speak to me woman to woman and since in her eyes I am a child my words were unforgivable. She has yet to acknowledge me.

We all have these experiences with our family. I truly believe this is a commonality amongst immigrant famille a, especially when the child has grown up away from the Homeland of birth. And as you pointed out, the first start to regaining you sanity and positive energy is to realise this is who they are and you cannot change them. You have to come first.

You sound like a very sensitive person who is trying to keep three generations happy: your children, yourself and your parents (father). I commend you for your sensitivity and your love of harmony. Your father sounds stubborn, but I am sure he misses his grandchildren, even if those words are left unsaid. You are doing your best as a son, a father, and as a husband to give the best to those around you. I applaud you for your love, your patience and your intelligence in the way you have dealt with generational conflict. You would make a fine diplomat!


I'm going through an emotionally charged moment with my significant other and have asked myself this very question: reconcile or not? This post made me realize that I'm in control of my decisions and have to be true to myself. I need to stay strong for myself and for my family.

Dear Dr. Kim: I can understand what you are going through. My father was a good father i.e. made sure we were fed, clothed, etc. and is very honest, hard working, etc. which my siblings and I respect. But he is also uncommunicative, moody, black and white and can be verbally and emotionally cold to say the matter how well we did in school or how "good" we were or are, etc. He has mellowed a tiny bit in age but not significantly.

What has helped my siblings and I, now that I am 60 and he is 80, has been to realize and accept that he is not about to change no matter how cheery we are around him or how much we try and "lighten" up his attitudes or ways of thinking. We do respect the kind of man and father he was when we were growin up, but my siblings and I have learned we have to be true to our own families/children/grandchildren now and what we believe is best for them, no matter how our father feels or reacts. We have learned and are still learning that even if we were became "perfect" in others' eyes, it would not be good enough for our father.

We are here to learn our own lessons in life and it takes a great effort not to "become" our parents. So none of my siblings or I are negative thinkers, moody, pessimistic, live in the past, uncommunicative or emotionally rigid with our children or grandchildren....that is what we have learned from our well as being honest, good citizens and hard working. So both his good and bad side have benefited us.

We can still respect and honour our parents but I have to make a life for my children and grandchildren....which is what my ancestors did when they came to Canada in the early 1800's. They left their parents for a new life and new opportunities and to better themselves and for the generations to come.

I don't know if this will help you but just wanted to write to tell you that I know it is tough but you have children now that are looking to you for a future and that is what is most important..I think.

All the best and keep up the great website. I enjoy and learn from all you post. BB


I too believe that this post pretty much says it all. Everyone will have different opinions on the subject, but in your heart, Dr. Kim, you will have to decide if your children are better off with their grandfather in their life or not. Does he bring more positive energy to your family or not, and is he a good influence for your children? How does he make your children feel when they are around him? Do they love him and look forward to his visits or are they indifferent or fearful? You will not be able to change him. He is the only one that can change his behavior. Dr Phil McGraw is very good with relationship dynamics and may be able to help you through his practice or self help books. He believes that it is our choice to allow others to treat us the way that they do. I am wondering how your mother feels through all of this as I'm sure she loves to spend any and all time with her grandchildren? Thank you for sharing, and I believe your journey is going to help alot of people. Please continue to share.

I love this post as it rings true for me and my mother. I know there are countless others that have simular troubles with an important unforgiving loved one. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story as it makes us all feel more accepted, even if it is by strangers we might not ever meet.
Thank you

Thanks so much for writing this. My family situation is different from yours, but our fathers are enough alike that it completely resonated with me. As difficult as it can be to deal with these tough family dynamics, it is comforting to know that other reasonable people struggle with them as well. I hope that you find peace in this situation, whatever the outcome.

Dear Dr. Kim,
Conflict is healing. It is in our lives to expose our wounds so that we may gain wisdom and thereby heal. If you wish to explore the healing nature of conflict, I encourage you to seek out a BreakThrough facilitator in your neighbourhood and try this amazing technique (see the International BodyTalk Association). You may end up thanking your father for being your catalyst and showing you the internal wound that needs to heal.
Best wishes in your journey!

Your brave, honest and heart-wrenching account spoke to me deeply. I am, in my own ways, suffering from similar challenges and find it hard to go on. Your message has made a difference to me. Thank you.


I, too, often struggle with my own father, mainly because I strive to please him despite the fact that nothing has ever worked. I have lived a life similar to yours, striving for major accomplishments, all of which have at least a partial underlying motivation of making my father proud. It does not work, however, and my efforts are often met with even harsher criticism.

Like you, I have concluded that it is indeed impossible to change someone who does not want to be changed. I believe that we can only change ourselves, and others will decide how they are going to react to this. Many will be changed positively. I, for example, have been changed dramatically just by YOUR EFFORTS in life, and we don't even know each other! I live all the way in Nashville, Tennessee. Your personal drive has led to a healthier mind and body for me. That in itself is just so amazing. Yet your father, who is much more involved with you than I, has chosen not to benefit from you, therefore it is clear that nothing you do is going to be of much use at this point. I think that letting go, despite having harsh/cold overtones, is the only answer for both of us now.

Thanks for all that you are Ben Kim....don't forget about all the people who DO see the sense, logic, and wisdom in all of your decisions. :)



Hello Dr. Kim,
I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts. I was a patient of yours in Barrow so long ago. I now live in Anchorage and home school our two youngest [14 and 15]. Your experience has touched my heart as I know first hand how hard it is to deal with an elderly parent. Many things my mother did were hard to accept but I still loved her and let her know I would always be there for her. Unfortunatly two of my sisters chose to shun her even as she lay dying in a hospital. I am comforted knowing that even though I didn't agree with many of her decisions, she knew I loved and respected her.
Wanda Grace

Dr. Kim, I must congratulate you on your courage and desire to bond your family. I am also Korean and my mom who passed away in 2007 was very traditional and rigid in her beliefs. Although she meant the best for my sister & I, she was very critical. I was able to adapt and was the one who cared for her when her health began to fail in 2005. My sister was not able to forgive her for the love she did not receive and in the end would not help with her care physically or financially. When my mother passed, my sister called me and blamed me for all of the hurt she was experiencing. She would not speak to me for 4 years. I felt she kept my nephew & niece hostage. Finally, I still do not know why, she forgave me. I do believe my daily prayers were answered.

I understand your landmine feelings around your father. I feel the same with my sister. But, like you, I could not have the burden of NOT reconciling in my heart. It made everyday heavy - like there was a weight. Although, I am disappointed in how my sister treated my mother I still know she is the only sister I have. I want to have a relationship with her, even though I know it is difficult and I feel like I am on eggshells.

I want you to know that many times your e-mails have helped me spiritually and mentally. I have posted near me at work the post you wrote "One way to find Inner Peace" and view it often. May I suggest that you are doing your best, and that your father is very fortunate to have a son like you.

Sincerely, Hyonju

Thanks for your post - your life story is very typical in Asian families.I am an Asian, too. So, I understand... The 'old' Asian cultures 'setup' in a way that parents thought they 'own' their children forever as if childeren were their own 'assess'. For me, I think our children choose us and born not from but through us. For that reason, we as parents do our best for our children's benefit (not ours).
I understand your emotional wound! only time can heal.

Dr. Kim, I know this isn't going to heal your relationship with your parents, but just know you are not the only one and things do work out in the end. My family is also first generation immigrants in this country. In our culture, parents and children are extremely close, and often even live together as adults, raising chlidren as a family. When my younger sister had her first child here in the US, my mom immediately saw her grandchild as another extension of her motherly responsibilities, and took it upon herself to advise my sister on how to raise her children. And by "advise" I mean insist upon her way of doing things, because mother knew best, and turn angry and accusatory when things were not done that way. When my sister gave her son antibiotic for an ear infection at 6 months of age, my mother hysterically cried and yelled on the phone, accusing my sister of "poisoning" her child. This went on for 4 long years, even after my sister had her second child, and finally when my sister moved away out of state, my mom slightly calmed down and she is now realizing that she had her turn rasing children the way she saw fit, and my sister is going to do it her way. But for me, as the older child, having been close to my mom, and very close to my sister, it was agony for 4 years listening to them cry and accuse, trying to keep peace, and trying to show each one the error of their ways. I felt like our family was falling apart. It was extremely stressful and I literally was losing weight during that time. As much as I am sad that my sister is far away, i am thankful that circumstances intervened to show everyone that life is short and precious and we cannot get hung up on our own ideas and goals and instead just have to try to cherish our loved ones and get along with them as much as possible.

The commitment of children to their parents is far more demanding in Asia, but the sense of ownership exists in Europe as well. The guilt they lay on their children when they don't reach their expectations of who they should be & what they should do I think is unforgivable. I find this very destructive to the well-being of the child.
I also believe that our children chose us as their parents & I consider being a parent a great honour & try & live up to my children's expectations of me. If my children don't want to have a relationship with me then I am doing something wrong not the other way around. My mother who died this year at the noble age of eighty always said she needed her children more than they needed her. That was a great lesson for me. When will parents realize that their children owe them nothing, nothing at all & the respect & understanding you have given them is what they will hopefully give you. I do not believe this is a divine right. I believe the role of parents is to give their children all the necessary tools to be independent human beings & then allow them to leave the nest when they are ready. When they turn out to be decent adults you have done a good job, one which you chose to do.
I think it is very commendable that you have chosen to home-school your children. It is a great commitment on your & your wife's part & it must have taken careful consideration to make such an important decision.
In my opinion we are the only species on the planet who no longer raise their young & those parents who have taken on the responsibility
to do it correctly should be highly respected. Today's society reflects the breakdown of this most important of all tasks. It is not easy being a parent, it is hard & repetitive work but it is the most rewarding work one can ever do & I feel if you don't think you are up to the task don't have children. Have recently heard on the BBC that a child dies in America every five hours of child abuse. Children are such precious beings how can this happen??!!

I believe this happens because whether through nature or through the ongoing stresses of life, parents have the ability to emotionally detach and walk away from their own children. Those that do not walk away, but stay out of duty due to the stigma of walking away, feel the detachment allows them to abuse or dictate to their children. Unfortunately children grow as dependants on their parents and do not have the luxury of this innate or discovered detachment ability, so therefore continually feel the repercussions of their parents behaviour. I recently told my own mother that this was my theory, but she was quiet on the subject, which tells me that she probably agreed, as she also had this problem with her own mother, as well as within our own relationship, along with my father who walked away for good. The fact that so many fathers do walk away and mothers can be so un-nuturing to their children is why I can only feel that this is the explaination as to why this behaviour is repeated over and over, even down the generations when the next should know better.

Thank you.....this is a great story....very helpful...

I am deeply moved by your issue with your father. I have had one with my niece whom I adore. She set upon a path of rages with me over politics. I realized she was not angry with me, but used politics as a megaphone for her deeply maintained anger. She vented it through politics. This is called projection. It is what I think that may have happened to your father. He has kept a form of anger inside for so long and it was triggered for release by the issue of your children. What is he REALLY angry about? It is not really about you or your boys or your choices. It may be about him (his dream?) and his internal fury about some injustice he received many years ago. His disappointment may still be played out at age 69. Is he jealous of you and his grandsons?

What to do about this? Love him up! Is there some way to coax his profound feelings to the surface? He sounds as if he is strongly committed to maintaining control over them. He suffers and his pain has endured and is sad. Projections seem to be awful traps but they also offer us genuine release if we can raise them to awareness and face the feelings they promote.

You do have to get on with your life as the loving parent/person you are. You will continue to seek pathways to reach your father and to offer him a safe place to release his inner demons. We all have them. Years ago someone asked me what I should do when I meet a dragon? I didn't know. The answer: to wave at it and say, "Hi, friend!" I wish you all so well.

Our fathers seem similar. My dad's temper is unlike anything I have ever seen and generally stems from him perceiving that he is being disrespected. He also acts like he is a king in his family, and any time we act otherwise (even if it's just living your life and making your own decisions out of God-given freedom), it is an incredible offense. It's a process to grow up and place those boundaries around your life in order to protect yourself and those that you care for, but it's a necessary one. There has to be an understanding of, "This is where you end and I begin" or else you end up with enmeshment and co-dependence.

Your father sounds like a Christian. I have a favorite verse lately in 2 Corinthians 3:17 - "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." I wonder what this kind of truth does to him, to realize that you are free to live your life apart from his expectations, dreams, and rules. Of course, this verse cannot be applied to sin that the Bible explicitly identifies, but homeschooling is not even close to being in the realm of something sinful. In fact, it is a very loving thing for parents to take such a personal interest in the education and molding of their children's minds. But the way he aims to control you and lord his desires over you in an attempt to conform you to his will are sinful.

The Scriptures do call us to honor our parents, and I suspect that you have that part down (even if your father doesn't see it that way). I just want to encourage you to walk in the freedom that God has woven into your life and the lives of your children and family. They are not mutually exclusive by any means.

And I hope your father DOES come across this post. I find it honest and true, and he would be well served to hear some truth, not to berate him and make him feel exposed, but because he, like all of us, is imperfect and needs a mirror (the people around him) to see himself accurately and have others show him what his character is really like. If he claims to not need this, then he claims to be a perfect man, and he is utterly deceived. If he is, indeed, a Christian then he is called to imitate Jesus, and Jesus did not lay claim to any of the glory nor honor that was rightfully His while He walked this earth because He was on mission to save and care for people. Likewise, I wish fathers would approach fatherhood in that way and view caring for their children's lives and hearts above their honor. Surely, the reward in Heaven is greater than anything they can squeeze out of their children here.

Sorry that this is a little long. I also didn't mean for it to necessarily be a "Christian" answer. It's just that I am a Christian and my relationship with Christ is where I glean all of my beliefs, and I do believe that they are universal truths, applying to all people.

Dr Ben, I could feel the emotion stirring inside me as I was reminded of my difficult relationship with my mother. I found two books very helpful:- 'Co-dependent No More' by Melody Beattie and 'How to deal with difficult people' by Alan Houel with Christian Godefroy'. Detaching with love is a great tool. eg. silently say to yourself:- 'I bless you and release you with love' Say it over and over when your head gets in all that stuff. Sending thoughts of Love and Peace to you and your family.

I am so touched and impressed with your honesty, openness and good heart. Reading your article on whether to reconcile or not what i so appreciate is your non dogmatic position which allows the space for the truth of both you and your sister's decision. It helps me feel less alone in the similar deep struggles in my own life and the differences between my and my own sister's paths. A heartfelt thank you to you.


Who are you reconciling with... yourself or your father? Ultimately there is only one person that needs reconciling... yourself.

You intimate account of this relationship was cathartic, I'm sure. And you know similar scenarios play out across the globe every day within families, cultures and nations.

We expect so much from the other side... mostly to hear and accept our side (our beliefs). Once you suspend that expectation, perspective change.

There was a moment in your exchanges where openness happened... when he expressed his dream of picking up the kids, etc. At that moment, he was vulnerable. In retrospect, all that was needed was acknowledgment (love). Unfortunately you responded with a condition of engagement with your children.

Not picking on you -- or judging you -- God knows the times I wished i could have held my counsel!!

Anyway... this will all work out. Neither of you know what will unfold... you could send your kids to public school as they get older, your dad could die, you could land up being a caregiver.... etc. etc.

Families are intensely complicated... best not to dwell to much on trying to figure them out; but rather living and accommodating the baggage.

Thanks for the article about reconciliation. I have not tried as hard, and as wisely to reconcile with a brother, but I get exhausted just thinking of trying to reconcile with somebody who cannot reason or follow a thread of thought. You gave me material for reflection though. You articulate your feelings and your graciousness toward your father clearly; you come across as a thoughtful person. Thanks again.

I don't know why but your story saddened me. I really hope your father comes to understands your views and realizes that it is your decision. Everyone grows up different and their decisions are products of their childhood. Your fathers reasoning is a product of his. He really can't help his ways, its all he knows. Don't hold blame and I hope he doesn't either. If you really feel your decision is the best for your kids than don't worry. You father most likely will relax on your decision. I feel bad for him too because he really doesn't know any different and thinks he knows best. As long as you keep your children active and keep them around other children they will be fine. I hope you follow up with your readers on what happens in the future with this decision. I wish the best for all.

I think you figured it out when you said your father felt "cheated" and had many "crimes committed against him". My father was also one to take every comment and action personally and he was constantly offended by everyone. It made him a bear to be around and at one point after my mother's death, the whole family stopped communicating with him. Later he got alzheimers and I was the only one willing to help with his care. After 2.5 years I had to stop as the toxicity of the relationship plus the disease was literally making me sick and causing undue problems with my husband and children. It was hard for me and I did some therapy for the guilt. I imagine whatever you decide, it will have some difficulty associated with it. I also homeschooled my kids for 5 years and eventually gave it up due to the stress on me and my feelings that they weren't getting enough even though we tested them every year and they scored marvelously on the tests. I think it takes a special person to make that work long term. One point you could make to your father is that if it starts to not be a benefit to them, you could always put them in school. But that probably isn't the problem as I first stated. So perhaps you could invite your father to your home and have him tell some of the stories that his grandmother told him. Or he could read to them or play some games. Perhaps involving him in their schooling would counter some of the "feeling cheated". Thank you for sharing your issues. Certainly you will be getting some good input from your fan base. If nothing else, their support of whatever you decide. God Bless.

I loved your story and feel that your father is fortunate to have an understanding son like you. It is hard to understand parents if you haven't walked in their shoes. You are a very understanding person and I hope my sons care that much about me.
I wish I had been smart enough to teach my children at home. I didn't realize how much they were learning at school that wasn't good for them.
The discipline your father received just isn't there any more. Respect is good but once children leave home, they have to decide what is best for them.
Thank you for such a touching story. I hope and pray that your father will eventually understand what you are doing. He sure did a good job bringing you up.

Dr Ben,

This is a sad story, but the content doesn't seem unusual. I think often times an older generation has deep issues with things that they have grown up with, that don't seem to matter to a younger generation. It's hard for them to let go of these issues. In the case of your father, I think you've done alot to try to reconcile with him. You've gone farther than he has gone, and maybe it is time to just agree with him to disagree. If he wants to be a part of his grandsons' lives, he'll have to put aside his anger, and his wants. I think his threatening to cut you off from his life, is really the only leverage that he has, but he really doesn't want that to happen. I think I would just carry on as usual, as much as possible anyway. He won't change his mind right now, but he won't refuse to see his grandsons either.


Just wanted to comment that this took great courage to post. There is much that just getting it out there into the interwebz can do for us. I felt like you were writing about me and my father.

You are not alone. As another child of a narcissistic parent, you have my complete understanding and compassion. This condition usually comes about through their own parents pain & neglect, as in your father's case. Each child's decision to have "No contact" or "Limited contact" is a very personal one, dictatated, as you have found, my each person's physical & mental health. The most important aspect is that kowing the pain, you do not give it to your sons as a legacy. here is a vast network of information and help by googling "children of narcissits." Wishing you and your family only the best.

Dear Dr. Kim,
Thank you for this beautiful, emotional, thought provoking letter. I struggled with issues such as these with my parents through out my life and as you debated the whether to continue to interact or just back away. There aren't any real answers about how to be a grown up with one's parents. I kept retreating into a child around them, until one point, I wanted to be an adult. I wanted to be treated as an adult and to have the freedom to have my own feelings, make my own decisions, and to be myself. This was important to me, because it influenced how I related to other people too. Strange how we don't seem to get the training on how to be an adult, especially with our parents. I think I was 50 years old and my father was still trying to tell me when to go to bed! For me, there was a time when I had to decide what I needed for myself and what things I needed to defend. Many of my decisions are just that and no longer need to be discussed or defended. The bottom line is a fine line between my person hood and the rights of others. There is a delicate balance to maintain, however, I have the sense now that I must first respect myself.
I had no idea that I would ultimately have to face this with my daughter. I love my daughter so much and yet, she grew up. She also had her ideas and I was very shock at some of them. She was way more conservative than I thought. She had many ideas that were different from mine. It is hard for me that we aren't as close as we use to be, but, I still love her just as much. She is a bright, responsible adult and has just as much right as I do to have her own ideas.
Thank you so much for supporting growth in all areas of our lives. I always look forward to you newsletters and the insights I gain from them.
Denise M. Carlin

I had to forgive my mother...I forgave even if I didn't forget.

Why not write him a letter explaining how you hurt too and many of the thoughts and knowledge you have from above. He probably doesn't know and hasn't even thought of it. Can't hurt (hopefully) and then it will be off your chest.

This is well written and I am glad you have a forum to is necessaty.

I empathize with the conflict this situation with your father has created. At times like this I think we must remember that loves conquers all. How do you put love in action here? Act like the children are in public school and do all the things you would ordinarily do. Send birthday, anniversary, holiday etc., cards, letters about projects they are working on,their clubs, interests gifts from the boys and you as usual.Take the boys to Korea and let him walk them to a museum e.g., - a site he knows about - and have him teach his grandchildren about the site. And let him walk with them home. Have the boys read to him, recite poetry - whatever you know your father's currency to be - to wrap his brain around the fact that the boys are thriving. I know little about Asian culture, but I do understand the nuances of family pride and rules. If he is to change his mind, he is proud and will need an out to save face. In other words don't talk about the school issue. Continue to require that he not mention his opinion to the boys. Just let him see for himself that all is well. That he said "you choose" about coming to visit tells me he wants to be open and wants to see you all, but just has not released his history enough to do so and doesn't know what to do with his cultural pride. Get the ground rules clear before you go. Don't talk about school. Conquer him with love. Good luck

It would be helpful to know why you decided to homeschool your boys--you don't really offer that information--is it based on religious principles, or do the boys not have access to a good quality school in your community or do they face some kind of racial bias at school? It sounds like you have a very difficult father, but you want both to homeschool your boys against your father's will AND have a good relationship with your father. Your father is trying to control the situation by threatening to withdraw from you and your family. This puts you in the position of having to beg him to understand your decision and not cut you off--not good for your emotional health. You'd be better off in my opinion sticking by your decision and showing your father that you are your own man. You can't change him. I also hope that your sons feel good about being homeschooled. I understand that education comes first, but their opinions should be considered as well. The Bible says "honor thy father and mother", but I think you can honor them and also do as you think best for your family.


Thank you so much for sharing your story.
I have always had great respect for you as a person, and not just as a physician and health advisor. Reading this, I see why I have felt that way. You are living deeply through your heart, which is not always an easy task. I will keep this and share it with those who find themselves in a similar place. I have some people in my life that cause me to ask the same question. And many of us do.

Dr Kim,

Your post is definitely thought provoking. I agree with everything you are trying to accomplish, but if you want to be truly empathetic to your father's position, i would respectfully propose you consider something you may not yet have.

A large portion of your conviction that you are in the right seems to rest on the fact that you are willing to talk about it and consider his side while your father is unbending and expects nothing short of 100% obedience to his will.

Yet, you are just as unyielding on your position as your father is his. You are just more diplomatic about it. If you truly were considering his side in your decision, you would probably be making an effort to compromise in some way.

This doesn't mean that you are wrong for sticking to your convictions. But you should recognize that just as his stubbornness is an affront to you, so yours is to him.

Dear Dr. Kim and wife:

I so appreciate your soul searching honesty that you share with us. It is a rare gift.

I just read your post "TO RECONCILE OR NOT TO RECONCILE".

Let me start by saying I strongly commend you and your wife for choosing to homeschool your boys. I know that homeschoolers as a group score higher on college entrance exams, and are usually well socialized and better educated (HS takes less time for school work because you don't have to wait for everyone else and therefore more time is available for social activities, field trips, and other pursuits) . They are also not indoctrinated by the public school system that has become so politically correct over recent years.

I also strongly commend you for not being intimidated and manipulated by your father's attempt at strong-arming you into what he wants, yet still being open to God's changing his heart, and still keeping the door of relationship open, and taking steps to help that to happen. It may take years.

Your father has some broken places in his life, and he is blind to what he is doing. God is the only one who can give him the desire and the power to change. But He IS able, and He is SO able. Granted, it may take a long time. Growth takes time. In the meantime, pray for him, and keep praying for him, and I will pray for him and you and your family, as well. it is amazing how many forms the selfishness of our sinful nature (Jer 17:9) shows itself, and how deceiving it is, even to the point of people (and even religious people) not recognizing it in themselves.

My husband is Ivan, and his father is 2nd generation Lithuanian. He was a difficult man, very unable to understand his very sensitive son. His dad unfortunately drove Ivan away as soon as he was able to get out of dad's way. He would not come home until after dad went to work in the afternoon. Ivan is the youngest of 3 children, and 11 years after the 2nd. The concenses of the preceeding children was to keep their kids away from Grandpa to protect them. But when we had our children, we knew that we cannot keep them from all of the pain of life, and indeed, that would not be ultimately beneficial, anyway. We decided to do what we could to encourage the relationship with him and our children. And we let our kids know that Grandpa has some ways that might be difficult, but they could talk to us about it if there is a problem, or something that hurt them. And we could pray together for Grandpa, and about the circumstances.

Indeed both boys did develop a special bond bond with Grandpa, and Grandpa did all kinds of things with them. When things got tense (which really was not that often), we just gently took our kids home. Our kids never experienced the painful stuff that my husband did at his dad's hands growing up. The whole family was amazed. (But, of course, my husband had to deal with his own hurts that his dad could play games with his kids, but never did with him when he was growing up, and stuff like that).

Now I know that this is somewhat different than your situation, though a similar thread is the older person having difficult ways/views that really needed changing for the health of all involved.

A scripture verse that has been helpful to both of us for different reasons is Psalm 27:10 "When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up." Though his dad did not literally physically forsake the family, emotionally he was just not there most of the time, and was so into himself and his own concerns that he basically functionally forsook them most of the time. But after receiving Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, Ivan now can and has leaned on God in all those situations. He has given wisdom that has resulted in more than we ever expected.

Reading this article moved me because my relationship with my father is so VERY similar. What has helped me remain at peace is to always try to view things from his perspective when he is angry. This allows me to see that he is usually NOT trying to hurt me intentionally. As you watch your parents age, you see their fagility come forth, and realize that they are not "strong super humans" that we all imagine our parents to be as youngsters, but rather are fragile humans with inner pain coming from a long history of relationships. I am now starting to be able to remove myself emotionally from my fathers anger and yet still show him love, compassion and respect. And do you know what..... he seems to be allowing himself to let go of some his baggage and love me back. Slowly but surely, your father will do the same. I believe our parents can learn from us as well, although its a hard pill to swallow. Dont give up on him, he needs you and you need him.

Your story moved me to tears. My father also was 7th child of 8 who grew up in the Great Depression under severe hardship. I grew up being abused by this man and he continued abusing me my whole life, until he started pulling the same bad stuff on my children and I cut him out of my life. Yet he had a side that was the most amazing person, and I wish so much that the amazing good side of him could have ruled his life more. He died 7 months ago at the age of 83. I had not talked to him in 14 years. It has been the most difficult thing for me to let go of his hold over me. You might think that losing a difficult parent is easier than losing a good parent, but in so many ways it is more difficult than a "normal" loss of a loved one. Having to face the way he suffered mentally and being unable to ever do the smallest thing to help him is what I deal with now on a daily basis. I think of him and I think of all the pain and destruction he caused me and mine. And I also think of all the pain and destruction that was levelled on him when he was an innocent child. What can I say? He is my father and he will forever be my father. I commend you on your difficult choice to contact your father and make him a part of your life. I completely understand the toll that it must be exacting on you. Thank you for your words of comfort. I thought I was the only one.

Congratulations! You have made it to a point that many only dream about. It is very clear you have the utmost respect for your father, and to your wife and children as well. You tried not only once, or twice, but continue to keep his wishes in mind even as he clearly doesn't consider yours. It doesn't sound like he has given what you and your wife want even a passing thought, let alone the right to make your decisions regarding your children. Perhaps, that is the way he is, and he has no desire to change, or even willing to find a middle ground. I believe the ball is now in his court, and you can feel good about your decision and how you have handled him. If having a relationship with his son and grandchildren mean less to him than having his way, there is not much you can do except enjoy the time you still have with your mom, keep the invitation open, and move forward. There are many lessons here to be taught, and while everyone looses in this situation, he clearly is missing out the most. And hopefully, the kids learn about tolerance and respect going both ways. Now picture in your mind how you wish it could be. Hold that thought. People change everyday. God Bless you.

Congratulations on being a true son and a true Christian in forgiving as we are forgiven. Our parents' generation have always used withholding approval as a method of controlling us. There has to come a time when they have to realise that that is evil and that we should be allowed to be ourselves. Congratulations for standing your ground and still honouring your father.

I cried through your struggles. You are a master at expression and writing. All my grandchildren (12) have been and are home schooled. They have been top in their classes when transferring to college and some to high schools. No problem with socializing either. They have had many friends.
I pray that your father will understand. I also agree w/your struggle to keep grandpa in the children's lives. My father got upset w/some misunderstanding in the family once. I didn't care that he told us all to stay away for a while. (his 10 children) I took my youngest child over to their house anyway (they hadn't seen him for months.) They were overjoyed, just too proud to do it themselves. Italian back-round. I wish everyone could realize how important our families are. Love and prayers to you all.

I too homeschooled all three of my children. My mother-in-law was against it. After a few years of doing homeschooling she was more favorable. When we started it the public school and health department (this was back in the early 1980's)gave us a really hard time from the legal side of the issue. Anyway it is easier now from the legal side to do homeschooling but the opinions of those close to you can make it difficult.

Dr. Kim, I commend you on your courage and openness. Not too many people would reveal the private conversations, arguments, and grievances that occur more than not in families. I think you did right by calling him and handling the situation the way you did. I too feel the heartache and anxiety when I have a falling out with my children. I cannot function properly, I cannot sleep, and I carry the stress of the situation inside me until whatever happened is resolved. I have to do lots of praying, exercising, and natural relaxers to deal with it. Hopefully your father will come to terms with your decision and find happiness in other ways of being with his grandkids. I have a great granddaughter now, a year and a half, and she is trully my heart. I would be devastated if I could not see her because of a misunderstanding between her mother and I. So I say continue to let your father see his grandkids as often as he likes, apparently he trully loves them and needs to be around them. To you I say do a little meditation, take Holy Basil for stress, breathe and exercise. Laugh as much as you can and love even more. Namaste, Mariana

Dr. Kim, Thank you for sharing this timely concern. I am dealing with the same type of problem this very week (and have for over 4 decades now)although this time the issue de jour is different. It has helped me to think outside of my own box for a minute and to see these issues through another's eyes as well as the eyes of the other wonderful "commenters"!

I have come to the conclusion that it is not a matter of "reconcile or not" because one can not reason with the unreasonable. When "hurting people hurt people" as they say, they make up their own reality. I can't reconcile something that doesn't exist! For me it is my choice to forgive (daily) and one that I must continue to act upon to keep my own health (poor adrenals!), that of my marriage and children and also to be able to "honor thy father and mother" as our Creator requires (being the first commandment with a promise attached - so that things will "go well" with me).

In Romans 5:3-5(ESV) God tells us, through the apostle Paul, "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." This is a tough pill to swallow but oh so true!

Looking to the future day when your father passes from this earthly life can help to keep things in perspective. What we choose to say or do today will be our witness on that day. We will have peace then based on the seeds we sow today.

On a practical note, we chose to homeschool our sons and our parents thought that we were "going to make them idiots". We respectfully followed through with our convictions and tried to honor them by doing things like taking standardized achievement tests yearly (we used the Iowa Test of Basic Skills) to have a tangible bench mark to show them. (We explained to our sons that the test was not about how smart they were but was for Mama and Daddy - to let us know what we needed to teach and what what they already knew.) We also participated in local homeschooling groups, activities,field trips and sports in the early years and made a point of sharing about them and soon inviting them to events, etc. It was a slow process, one focused on the grandchildren, not on "our choice" or "how right we were".

It has now been over ten wonderful years (and still going) of wonder-filled education and they now brag to their friends about how all three of their grandsons are "geniuses"! Time does seem to heal all wounds. The scar may not dissappear but the wound does heal and not hurt so badly, even the imaginary "wounds" that they contrive for themselves.

I believe one day that your father will know the tree by it's fruit!
God bless you and your family and your exciting adventure of lifelong learning! Angie

Dear Dr. Kim,
What a beautiful and well thought out post. I am in agreement with your decision to homeschool, if I ever had it to do over, not knowing then when my children were small, but knowing now what I do, I would also have home-schooled. But the problem here is all about your father's "heart issues" and the "Heart Junk" he has continued to carry around in his cellular memories.

Might I recommend "The Healing Codes" for yourself and Margaret to read, by Dr. Alexander Loyd. It's more than just a book, it is what I consider another tool in the Healing Tool-box that many like yourself has accumulated over the course of your years in wanting to help facilitate healing in not just other's but ourselves. I have added it to my arsenal and do the "codes" daily on myself. Similar to EFT, you can do it surrogately for others also. Perhaps this will help to heal your father's hardened heart.
My best to you and your family and keep on keeping on, I love your site and newsletters and am enjoying 'watching' your children grow and thrive.

Many Blessings and Hugs!

Thank you, Dr. Kim, for sharing your heartfelt struggles with your father. It was moving, and helped me to put a few more pieces of the puzzle together from my own childhood.

Reconciliation is a two-way street. A person can make up to another, which you have done by extending your offer for your father to visit his grandchildren. Reconciliation does not happen until both sides decide to set that past aside, and travel forward together in mutual understandilng. Not necessarily agreement, but understanding.

You have made the effort, and it is your father's turn to meet you half way. He doesn't have to agree with your decisions about schooling. But he must find a way to put his disagreement aside so you can both move forward. Reconciliation may take a long time, and happen very slowly, in stages, but if the willingness is there, it will happen. You have shown your willingness, and I hope your father will, in time, allow himself the freedom to place his grievances aside for his own benefit, as well as his family's.

All the best,

Just because I don't comment on any of your post does not mean I don't read them. I enjoyed this one particularly, reading your 'healthy and lively' relationship with your Dad. Savor his existence. When he is gone, he's gone forever. My father died 11 yeaars ago and to this day, I still feel sadness in my heart.

I hung up the phone on my dad after saying I am not talking anymore. And we never did because he passed away 2 months later. My father was critically sick but none of his 10 children knew and I am the youngest of all. I am a mother of 3 boys now and realize how baby I was to my father though I was already 28 then. Twelve years have passed and I still miss him dearly and feeling extremely bad and unfilial for not able to apologize to him anymore. His death was sudden and he was 67. Ben, please "reconcile" if you believe God wants us to love and not suffer. Share with your boys how your father spent time with you, his love to grandsons, gradually link that to current situation and teach them how to handle grandpa's questions about homeschooling (the key is lots of kisses and hugs and reassurance). Nothing is wrong or right in such situation but it creates more love, care and memories. Perhaps your father missed the time he spent with you while you were schooling, it is not selfish but that's how much he misses his children. Feel free to email... Take care :)

Dear Dr. Kim,

Thank you for sharing this season of your life with your readers. This article brought me to tears. I too come from an Asian family (father's side). He was very traditional in his ways from his life in China. He passed away in 2007 and I am so grateful of the efforts I made to stay reconciled and in touch with him, in spite of his anger issues and beliefs. I have no regrets in the efforts I made to love him unconditionally and for my son to know him for the short time that he could. I now homeschool my son and love every moment of it. God knows your heart and He sees the choices you make to honor Him, your heavenly Father. I pray He will continue to give you peace and soften your father's heart so that he too can reap the joy of fatherhood as well as being a grandfather.

Blessings to you Dr. Kim. You are a true gem in this world!!!

Dear Dr Kim,

Many thanks for sharing this. It is useful for so many of us.

I think you just gave yourself and your family (your sons, your wife, your parents) a great proof of love, by choosing to attempt reconciliation, as opposed to choosing to care less about your father's feelings.

Is it a good idea to attempt drawing some happiness and health from being so understanding and tolerant towards your father's resentful feelings?

Yes, if your hard-wiring allows for this understanding to be a source of happiness. Not everyone is hard-wired in such a noble and enlightened way. But if your heart is big enough (as you have indeed proved) that the cost of maintaining a truthful connection with your father is outweighed by that connection being a brick in the building your own happiness, then... it's all to your advantage and to your credit (and to Joshua's and Noah's advantage). Hats off :)

Kind regards,

Oh my goodness thank you so much Dr. Ben for sharing this, unfortunately my father passed away and we never shared feelings, it is only now that I am in my sixties that I can begin to understand why he was the way he was but for some reason that generation won't admit that they had a problem and keep it all to themselves. There is nothing like being open with your feelings especially to your family it does wonders for healing, and I, like you, have shared my feelings with my children and feel more at peace and realize that I am in no way responsible for my father's behaviour, I realize that life is about choices and if we choose to be unhappy forever then so be it.
My Husband had exactly the same problem with his step mother but he has chosen to cut all ties with her and hasn't spoken for years, he feels that is the best way for him to cope, but I imagine that because he is adopted it was easier for him to choose this path.
Thank you so much Dr Ben for sharing this with all of us.........regards and many thanks for your wonderful newsletters.

Dr. Ben Kim,

Thank you for sharing such a very moving and sincere post. I will pray for your situation and I KNOW that prayer will eventually resolve yourself and your Father's issues and ultimately, your family healing. However, it will only take place on the Lord's time-table and in His Divine and Mysterious Way/Will. Until then, please keep your faith strong and stay the course of the Lord's guidance. You are the Father of your household.

Much Love, Blessings and Peace,

PS: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1a KJV

Dr. Kim,
Thanks for sharing this experience however difficult it is for you. I have had similar experiences with my grandmother, who is now deceased.
I understand the feeling of wanting to maintain a peaceful, mutually respectful relationship and not being able to achieve it through no fault of your own. The important point is you keep trying for your own peace of mind and health. I appreciate you mentioning your sister and how she deals with it because it is important to understand that everyone deals with stress and difficult situations individually, and that we shouldn't make judgments as to whether they are "right" or "wrong." She has done what is best for her as you have done what is best for you.
Human relationships are complex things. You have to reconcile yourself to the fact that your father may never change, but how have you changed and what legacy will you leave for your children? You can continue the cycle or change it. God bless!

Dear Dr. Ben Kim,

I am so frustrated! I started writing my comment and before I was finished, I must have hit a key that made me lose it. I hope that the error will be discovered and that it won't be posted in its unfinished state.

First, I want you to know that I was touched to the core by your home schooling story, and commend both you and Margaret for this hard earned decision. I know that it did not come without deep thought and the highest concern for your beloved boys. I only wish that such an option was available to me and my children when they were at that school age.

My tears fall with yours over your father's reaction to your decision. It is readily apparent that his behavior is ruled by his cultural beliefs and what he has been taught, both of which differ dramatically from those of other cultures. Knowing this, however, it not enough to ease the pain your hearts are feeling, or the subtle affect this family rift is having on the children.

My husband and I can relate from personal experience to the gut wrenching pain you are going through.... only from the opposite side of the fence. For reasons unknown even to myself...and after 10 long years of keeping silent, I found the courage last Thanksgiving (2010) to bring up with our son-in-law his verbal abuse of our 9 year old grandson. In spite of my gentle approach, the mere mention of something displeasing to me about the parental choices they are making caused the beginning of a huge avalanche. From that very moment to the present we have not been allowed to see our grandsons who live just 5 miles away. To say that we are heartbroken is an understatement. We have loved these two grandsons as deeply as our own children and to be denied the ability to see them has literally crushed us.

In you I see a wonderful, loving, truly GOOD man, and I can say the same for your wife because you chose her for your life partner. In no way do you deserve to be treated with the disrespect your father has shown you. I hope that you know this somewhere deep inside yourself. You do not deserve it. His is a very UNLOVING way, Ben, and it causes pain for those he professes to love. It is not love that he shows. That you have risen above the cultural teachings and attitudes of your biological family deserves the utmost admiration and respect from those of us who SEE clearly the extraordinary person you are. Try and rise above your father's critical voice. Hold yourself... your lovely wife and precious boys in the light of acceptance and high self esteem. You are profoundly deserving. And while you're at it, let it be known that you are well loved by thousands of us out here.

Bless you for all that you do...and share. With heart's love, Margaret - Clackamas, Oregon

Wow, Dr. Kim - this speaks volumes to me. My ex-fiance, who has severe issues with anger, broke up with me from out of nowhere almost 2 months ago. He falsely accused me and now will not have ANYTHING do with me. It's been terribly bewildering and if you're a person like me who wants more than anything to have resolution with others, it's extremely painful. I've realized that it is his way of manipulating and controlling the situation and I simply can't let him do that to me. I've had to walk away and give it to God. God is my defense and He will make a way for me. Your father, like my ex, has been terribly, terribly wounded and what he does, he does to protect himself because he wasn't protected properly as a child. Unfortunately, like me, you're not dealing with a "normal" person and he is never going to respond to you that way you want him to. Sometimes resolution is that it won't be resolved, EVER. However, it's important that you maintain your decisions, which you feel are best for you and your children, and go on living. You're in a very tough place but love will conquer a lot. At least you still have some communication with him, which is great. It's an open door, however small the opening is. The door on me is shut tight and I don't know if it will ever open in this lifetime. Maybe not, but God knows. His plans are good and He still has a bright future for me (and you!). I pray that your dad's heart will be softened and that you will be able to reason with him at some point. Meanwhile, take a deep breath, do what you feel is best, and go on living. You're dad was right about one thing - it (your life) IS your decision. Take care and God bless.


Dr. Kim,

Yes. You must reconcile. You must always leave the door open to your father. Because of his emotional deficits he needs as many loving, accepting, tolerant, demonstrative, communicative people in his life as possible. He needs examples set for him. He can still "work" on the negativity in his mind. He is a "glass half empty" person. He needs to be distracted as much as possible so that he doesn't fall back on negativity. He also has control issues. As we all age (I'm 64) we tend to become more set in our ways and OCD behaviors start to appear. It's because we feel our influence slipping away. Agism is all around us. It's very prevalent in Western societies. Youth rules and rocks according to advertisers and the entertainment industry in particular. I wonder if your father might not enjoy volunteering in the public school system in some fashion? Mentoring. If he wanted to be a part of the public school system through his grandchildren why not be a foster grandfather to children without grandfathers? He would be richly rewarded with the gratitude of those types of children and the school officials as well. He would have access to the schools which would reawaken those pleasant childhood memories which he longs for. And as far as his real grandchildren are concerned you and your wife must issue more invitations than ever before to your mom and your dad to do all the other kinds of life events with your children--even the menial day to day ones that so many of us remember from our childhoods. Every contact with a grandparent is an opportunity for a warm, enduring memory. As far as your sister is concerned, in my mind she took the cowardly way out. Her child therefore will not have any kind of memories of her grandparents. That is a tragedy that could have been avoided. She was selfish toward her child. You on the other hand are very very brave. Kudos to you and your wife. Good luck with your dad. When he uttered the words, "You decide." he was saying yes. As you reach out to him with your love God will prevail.

I can relate to your experience, sometimes we would like our parents to be able relate to our cultural and generational views of our world, and when our minds fail to meet, this can result in a great impasse or a point of controversy.

The way our parents grew up was simple and following traditions was indispensable; but in this time and age, things are not so simple. Our over-complicated lives sometimes can look like a never ending maze to the older generations; and therefore seem like an absurdity to them.

I think God will honor the faithfulness of your heart to your father and the entire family, even when in your father's eyes it may seem as though you aren't quite measure up to his expectations or traditions.

God gave you and your wife those children, because he thought you were the ideal parents and decision-makers for those angels send down in little bodies; perhaps, it is not for anybody else to understand, validate, or to agree with such duty and honor.

I enjoy your postings, thank you for your site and your candor.

I would also add my support to the homeschooling as an option. We homeschool my three daughters and love the connection we enjoy as well as the general love of learning as an atmosphere. At 7,10 and 13 my girls have never had a test and probably would not understand the concept. They learn so much because they just love to know, to understand to classify and to experiment. They, and I , do not see the need to measure the level of comprehension and memorization when they all three strive to do more every day for love of learning, not to achieve a number or letter to quantify their knowledge or for some external validation of their efforts.

Someday, they will take tests and struggle against their peers in attaining grades in higher education , if they choose that path but for now, we learn because the world is just so interesting.
( many hear this and see doom for my poor UN-educated children but I would add the my 13 year old is on her 4th year of Latin with a Ottawa U. 4th year student tutor; and her first year of ancient Greek as this is her passion, un-schooling is not, not learing) They do violin, harp, piano, math and a lot of science, when they want, which is as much and more than I can manage some days. We read all the classics and by age 7 any can tell you what a theocracy is.)

As to your father, it must bother him to know that your decision to homeschool, or any decision with rearguard to your parenting, will be made with out his consent or approval. His loss of control may never be pacified, as you can see.
Your caring about his anger is not the same as his knowing that he can influence you to change your decisions based on what he does or says. This reminds me of a young child who does not want to go, or stay or do what must be done. As a loving parent, we try to smooth the path but the final result is that they have no power and we, as kindly as possible perhaps, will make them leave or stay or what we have decided what must be done. It still come down to they have no power.

I think the reason I am responding is because I see this childish behavior in my parents and in my parents-in-law.
They seem five years old at times. Broad sweeping threats, selfish behavior, lack of patience or wisdom. I guess I wonder where our cultural sense of conferring with our elders for wisdom came from?
The stories all point to the quiet, wise old man or woman but my experience is that I know many foolish, vain and tempestuous elders whom I would not look to for guidance as they would use their own prejudices to guide my decisions. Do you think they exist? the wise elders. Perhaps they are few and we should be sharing them and honoring them as such when we find them.

My best wishes to you and your family


Schools today are not the same as the school in many older generations mind. Today, school is a government directed programing of the thought process; additionally, the vaccines and other pharmaceuticals compulsively ingested by the children in school have consequences.
I can not make myself sick enough to make someone else well.
You are the parent of your children and hopefully your father will support you.
Keeping your family in prayer.

Your consideration of your father's childhood in order to understand his motivations is truly inspirational. Never doubt that he loves you and your sister deeply. He just doesn't know how to show it and also doesn't understand the importance of showing it, an all too common fault in any society and any generation. If anything happened to either of you then I daresay his sense of loss would be enormous.

Since the problem stems from him equating going to school with a child's wellbeing, maybe you can enlist your Mother's and Aunt's help to find subtle ways of exposing to him the perils and disadvantages of modern public schooling as you see them, in order to erode his fanciful perception. If successsful then his protective instinct for his grandsons will kick in and he'll come over to your side.

As he sounds like a religious man, is there a priest or similar figure who commands his respect who can also be enlisted to broach the subject in a roundabout way?

Dear Dr. Kim, Since personalities in children are largely formed at 6 years of age, I would say you made a very heartfelt and positive decision to home school. Coming from a family where all the children were second class citizens and left to our own to fend for ourselves I can say that despite my best efforts with my own father when he was alive, I was not able to achieve the relationship with him that I would have liked and it was the same with each other child in my family. It has caused my life to be in terrible pain and did not produce a healthy result as a man. It is always honorable to try your best, however, when that is not enough one has little choice to withdraw and at the very least you stated your ideas and feelings sincerely. I became very depressed during my mid-thirties and have suffered chronic sleepless anxiety disorders that have ruined my life. While I have to own all of these things as an adult, it was decisions that my father made that led me to this crippling path. I would have liked to think that my father did his best to raise his his children, in fact he did not, only left each of us with very high expectations and no good way to reach them. Now I have to work often everyday on forgiveness for many things currently in my life and I would just like to tell you that the proactive stance you have taken is the right one and you will be glad for it later on when your children reach the goals they find in the gifts they were born with and the effort you have taken to back them. Best Regards!

I think you just nailed my mother. I homeschool and she told me my child was gonna grow up hating me. I asked her what they did before they had school buildings??? my mother like your father was raised in a time when children were seen and not heard. The only way I can have a conversation with my mother is to avoid any hot topic . Hard and sad to do because it's like what I say doesnt matter to her and she is always right . So glad to know I am not the only one had to deal with a hard headed parent . Hope things will work out for your family!!

I read your post tonight with great interest. I too have tyrannical men in my life, a father and a few others. All of them have one thing in common: growing up in a place of suffering that has made them bitter about what life is showing them.

I have a friend who is Japanese, and spent 10 years living in a Zen Buddhist temple. Not too long ago we had a great conversation about our parents; he too experienced similar things. His conclusion?
There are some things that will never be reconciled.
However, ALL things can be ACCEPTED.

Hearing that helped me immensely. I hope it helps you too.
For me it means, truly accepting in your heart of hearts that this person before you is suffering, and THIS is the cause of their behaviour. It doesn't mean you accept the behaviour - you still need to defend yourself and/or protect yourself from their actions. It means you accept what has brought them to this point and ALLOW them to be as they are.

I recently found out about a book at CPSO Wellness Fair I presented at called "The Magic of Conflict" by Thomas Crum
It looks like it may hold some deeper insights & personally I am awaiting my copy with some anticipation. Perhaps it will be helpful to you too.

I think you did amazingly well handling your father's anger and I pray that you come to reconciliation within, so that full acceptance can blossom.

This was the most touching account of how parents can send away the love of the only people who really love them and punish themselves in the most horrific, rage turned inward way possible. To take that same love that was never extended or validated by your parents and pass it on to your children. Misogyny is the oldest prejudice depicting men as kings. They are never happy when anyone else has any control. I appreciate your effor to reach out. Compassion is a beautiful thing. I applaud you for making it stop in your generation. I have done the same thing. Keep up the fantastic work!

BRAVO, Dr. K ... and congratulations for being able to express yourself and your feelings so accurately. I think these situations are sooo trying and I applaud you for your persistence in reaching out to your disgruntled father ... when it would have been alot easier to just ignore him. Speaking from experience, these situations make ones stomach churn, head hurt and lord knows what else go on inside the body. I have had to distance myself from some toxic family members @ one time or another ... sometimes just "time passing" can bring around a change? Also, how much family matters to you can dictate how much energy you choose to put into family peace.

Thank you for sharing, God Bless You and may things get better for all.

The fact that your Dad gave you permission to decide whether to bring your sons for a visit or not is his way of saying that even though he doesn't agree with you on the school issue .....he will leave the decision up to you as to whether you will allow your children to visit their grandparents. Actually, you have won Round One in the fight to raise your children "your way"!!!! My suggestion is to treat your Father the same way that you treated him before the issue of Home Schooling. Who knows, you might decide to put them into regular school during their high school years in preparation for College!!!
However that too, will be YOUR decision. After all we are all responsible for our children and their rearing. Having grandparents to watch over our children is an added PLUS and that is considered an appreciation.

Thank you for sharing your your story and your feelings.
I am in between how your sister handles it and how you do. I will go 6 months to a year without speaking to my family (it's not just my dad, and it also doesn't only involve homeschooling or my son's autism). During that time, the sadness dissipates and I begin to feel stronger and happier that I don't have them in my life.
But something always seems to happen, my mom needs me to buy her cigarettes or a death in the family that I need to be informed of or a number of other things, and they slip back in making me feel guilty, like I'm the one who did the wrong. I feel bad because I've missed their birthdays or a holiday, etc. I then decide to start anew with them, putting everything in the past and it goes well for a couple weeks.
It quickly turns back into the selfish, greedy one-sided relationship it has always been. It's then that I realize they don't really miss the relationship with me, but instead, they are still only worried about the "truth" getting out and what people would think if they knew the horrid details.
So now, it is about 5 months in of the 'communicating' and my nerves are raw. It's time to move on and away from this destructive family again, and hopefully this time, for good.

Dr Kim,
I'm immensely touched by what you have written here, because I myself have a similarly tyrannical mother who grew up in poverty, hunger and political brainwashing in Communist China. There are many similarities between your relationship with your father and mine with my mother. I get so easily stressed whenever I talk to my mom because she has those angry outbursts. And I also want to preserve my health as I already have some big tumors inside my body. Right now I am experiencing a rift and I don't know if the knots in our relationship could ever be untied. It's just such a great relief to hear that you share similar sentiments, because I sometimes feel so alone in my society where family--and filial piety--has such a revered place. Thank you for writing this and being so honest about your feelings.

Dr. Kim & Margaret,
I homeschooled three of my children for 11 years total time. It was a wonderful and fulfilling experience for them and for me. My children thrived socially as well as academically and achieved scholarships to a university. As far as I can tell, they experienced nothing negative from the experience. And the benefits to them and our family relationships were incalculable. My parents were skeptical when we started, but soon became supportive from seeing the results of the children we were raising. Hooray for you in deciding and following through with your feelings on schooling them at home. Best of luck.

Dear Dr. Kim,

Thank you for your story. I am so proud of you for trying to understand your father. I can see that you know deep down that your father is a good man. It is just very hard because of his upbringing. I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

Dear Ben,

Thank you so much for sharing something so heartfelt and emotional for you. Your transparency moves me. I couldn't help thinking that your story has nothing to do with the issue of homeschooling, but more with the issues of acceptance and forgiveness. I think when it comes to relationships, be they with family or others, we have a tendency to complicate things a bit. It all comes down to love really. It is obvious that you love your father and in his own way, he loves you and your family as well. We sometimes have a lousy way of expressing it allowing past hurts, misunderstandings, expectations and even the enemy to muck things up for us. You cannot change your father. If you want to continue to have a relationship with him, you must accept that. Give him to God. Pray for his heart to be changed. You may have to pray for this every day for the rest of your life, while at the same time accepting him just the way he is, loving him in spite of his difficult nature and forgiving him for past hurts. This doesn't mean you don't create boundaries to protect you and your family...but all of this needs to be done in love. Show him the same mercy and grace our loving Father has bestowed upon us. I believe this is the only way to break down walls that have been so painstakingly constructed over the years around our hearts. Let the love of Christ shine in you. It's really that simply. Love. We just make it so hard. God Bless you and your sweet family!

Dr. Kim,

Thank you for sharing this difficult time with us. I hope that reading the comments has given you some peace. When you were able to see your father's perspective and you realized he is not capable of agreeing with your decision at this time is when you reconciled with him. He reconciled with you when he gave you the option to decide about having your sons visit. Your need to have him promise not to discuss it was hurtful, as you learned, and you asked for forgiveness. From what you have described of your father he will not be able to verbally give you the forgiveness you are looking for. If you understand that and accept it you will feel better.

Your father will love to see his grandchildren and you and Margaret. He may not show his love for you for some time but he does feel it. Be patient with him and continue to see him and your mom even if he shows some hostility for a time, his hostility will pass. If he does mention to your boys that public schools would be better for them they will merely be learning the lesson that each person can have his own opinion and they should be open to different opinions.

If the situation arises where your boys have homework to do and they can get help with it from their grandfather it will help him understand they are getting a full education.

Try to see this situation has already started to work itself out. Just be patient, try not to dwell on it and forgive yourself. I know that isn't easy.

Wow! Thank you for sharing something so personal and painful, yet eye-opening. I almost cried reading this. It definitely helps me understand why some people, especially older generations may act or react a certain way. (I think I'm even understanding why my father does not reach out to me, but is thrilled when I reach out to him.) Also, your blog caused me to check my own attitude with my sons. And I am encouraged (yes, encouraged) to journal more to relieve stress and gain clarity about my own relationships.

Should you reconcile? I believe that you are doing what you can to reconcile. I pray you have the strength to not give up. However, you may just have to define what reconcile means in this situation. I learned in a divorce recovery class/Bible study that reconciliation takes many forms. Although I have no interest in remarrying my ex-spouse (what some people think reconciliation is), I am grateful that we can speak to each other pleasantly and even share a meal. This is what reconciliation is for us.

I pray that you find peace with your father. However, you and your wife have a responsibility to your children and I know that your decision is a great one with long lasting benefits. My sons are young adults and I raised them as a single parent. Butt if I had it to do over again considering today's educational climate, I'd explore home schooling (like a group of mothers working as a team). God bless you and your family! Shalom.

I totally agree with your thinking.Our previous prime minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew aged near to 90,still serve in the parliament had several times told the press interviews,that educating the children to be hanlded by the parents and not the grandparents.It is best this way.Bringing up his 3 children,his wife and him had already done their best.2 boys and a girl.One the present prime minister,another is a neurologist specialist and another is a CEO and engineer by status.Mr LKY is a well known international political figure.I think he is a talented man, well respected by millions of people around the world.Stay to it,one day your daddy will come to agreeing with your decision.With best regards.

I have to say that firstly I admire you for holding out against the blackmail and manipulative conduct of your dear Father. No matter what happens in life you are responsible for your children's well being. Your parents had their chance with you and now that you have 2 boys of your own you have the right to make all the major decisions regarding their upbringing and happiness.
I am sorry for your is his great loss if you turn your are an admirable man in every way and I wish you the joy of parenthood that is rightfully yours to enjoy...

Goodness, this has brought a big response! My opinion is that the `stuckness` in a relationship with an abusive person because of the overriding need to fix things which keeps one being further damaged, can be dealt with when one accepts that the person cannot be changed and that our responsibility is to keep ourselves from harm. If he has been so damaging to you why think he will not damage your sons? Yes it is hard but he must be told that he will not be allowed to damage them and will not be aloowed into their lives unless he gets treatment - a no hoper then. Get help Dr Ben.

In 30 years you will be the grandad. Your successful children will not question, why you chose to home school them. Each generation will do it differently. Time will tell but its a parents decision.

I'm sorry but I have been down this road with family matters and there is only one way to play this game - HARD BALL. It is unfortunate that your father had a childhood that was lacking in the physical and emotional love and respect that all children deserve. Having said that, he is 69 years old, and when you are that age you are responsible for your own actions and he has had every opportunity to seek counseling and correct the problems that make him a difficult, mean, stubborn human being. He has chosen not to do that and make those around him suffer instead. That is not fair to you, your family or anyone else he interacts with. These are YOUR children and he should respect the decisions you make, if he respects you and your children. The fact that he doesn't shows he does not respect you. I don't understand why you didn't just say to him OK, have it your way when he threatened to not see you again if you home schooled. ??? This is bullying behavior and you would not tolerate it from anyone else so why would you tolerate it from your father? Don't use your children as an excuse because frankly I see very few redeeming qualities in your father that would make me want my children around that. You need to walk away and if he truly cares even one ounce about you and your children then he will come forward. If you keep letting him bully you, it will only get worse and could carry over to your children. Pure and simple, he does not respect you and he has to learn that this is no acceptable. I think I heard Dr. Wayne Dyer once say "there is nothing admirable about forcing a relationship together just because they are family". In other words, if you normally would not have a relationship with this person but only do because it is family, that is not a good enough reason and you should not force it together if it's not working. This is clearly not working even though it is apparent that you have tried and tried and tried again. You seem to be a very consideration, compassionate, caring human being. You and your family do not deserve to be treated the way that he is treating you. Someone needs to put their foot down to his behavior and why not you? Why don't you give him an ultimatum? "Until you get serious counseling and I hear from a counselor that you are a changed man, you will not see me or my children". I know you won't like that but why is it that you allow him to make ultimatums but you'd never consider it. A one sided relationship is never healthy even if it hurts you to step away from him. I had family members that were constantly trying to stir up trouble in my life even though I had always been good to them. This resulted in serious health problems and it wasn't until I had really thought long and hard about things that I realized for my own emotional and physical health I had to stop communicating with them. What happened? Did they reach out? NO. That spoke to me that I had made the right decision. I pray that you will find peace and find a solution where you are not treated like a door mat anymore because you do not deserve it. BTW, I applaud you for home schooling your children. With everything happening today in the schools and our society, there really is no other way to go if you want your child safe, happy, and ALIVE. All my best.

Dr. Kim, I admire your candor. More fathers need to attend to their own successes and failures as you do. Otherwise what good is any education; and, how shall we live without truth? Reconciliation is the only way to live. Recently, my pastor did a sermon on forgiveness, a much needed subject in churches today. I thought back to a time when my Pop and I weren't speaking, and all the hurt it caused my daughter, me and my dad. Time away from his grand daughter and me without a sounding board for my parenting.
More recently, my wife (an MD) and I decided to homeschool our two oldest kids because they weren't getting the depth of work they were capable of because their teachers thought they were unable to conform to classroom work.So, for two years were persevered and now they are mainstreamed again. My in-laws fought us on the decision until they saw the work and level of acheievement the kids were at. My wife's parents are great people, but sometimes overlook the possible needs of our kids assuming that my children are acheievers as my wife and her siblings were.
Give your father time and pray, pray to forgive his lack of respect for your decisions, and yourself to forgive the leanings of a wise mind that has notions based on his children and not yours. I am personally pray that your father look deep into his past and see if there were not things he wishes he had done and now is projecting them on you or your children. Your father sounds like mine, willing to foresake all for the good of his family. And for that we should always be grateful.

Kudos to you and Margaret for maintaining your belief in homeschooling in the face of your father's extreme disapproval. As a mother of three boys, I had made the decision to homeschool even before I had children. Later, when my eldest was two, a friend introduced me to the Waldorf school, and I liked what I learned so much, I have sent all of them there (my youngest is in the 6th grade now).

Your ability to "get inside your father's head" is a great skill in helping you navigate the minefield that is your father. I really like how he was able to tell you his dream of walking them to and from school. Perhaps there will be a way for him to do something similar. Perhaps he has a life skill that he could employ teach a homeschool "class" to them. Ultimately we can see that he really wants to be a respected and well-loved part of their life, but I agree that their emotional and mental well-being must always come first.

You are right, Dr. Kim. We cannot change others, only ourselves. I am very proud of the way you handled this conflict with your father. Just be easy on yourself about all this!

Respectfully and with admiration,
Shawn Knudeson

Beloved Doctor,your letter is like all your postings -- it reveals your caring, compassionate and wise heart that is vulnerable enough to feel a full range of ideas and emotions. Thank you for sharing this most personal struggle with your father, yourself, your understanding of your children, and your loyalty to your wife and to what you believe at all levels.

At nine years old, my son went through the traumatic death of his father and lost his way at his stressful school. I chose to take him out of the dangerous school environment and to home school for his fourth and fifth grades. We had to start over in math and grammar as he had learning disabilities and what professionals then diagnosed as ADD. He hated reading and writing, so we quit for a semester and began again. I chose to unschool and use kinetic applications and just let him follow his heart's desire to learn about what intrigued him. We went all over Chicagoland to find places that offered enrichment on WWII Warbird aircraft, air shows, toucans, seals, history museums with dioramas that fascinated him, CYT plays, Beethoven concerts, craft fairs, farmers' markets, camping, cross-country treks, nature preserves, fishing, you get the idea. What fun! He learned to cook his favorite recipes, make his own dioramas. and maintaina the lawn, shovel snow, and fix things. He felt needed, smart, and competent. Several families took him with their sons on extended vacations and excursions, like sailing. He competed in skateboard events.

He went back to school in the sixth grade a totally different person, curious, confident, engaging and engaged with what was best and other students that wanted to learn. He was a great success in honors classes, on the debate team, as a daredevil skateboarder in high school and a leader in the church youth group.

He chose a college about 75 miles north because he loved the place. I let him go with great faith in what would happen. He was president of the student body when he graduated from the respected liberal arts university with a 4.0 that he had diligently earned. He financed it by applying for scholarships and grants and serving as an RA in the dorms all four years. He was active in serving others through his local church. He kept, and still does, a growing savings account.

After a four year engagement, married a fine girl in his class a year after they graduated and he'd finished his first year in grad school at Pepperdine in Calif. She lived a year on her own and began a career in nursing. Now he has his master's degree, and they are a force to be reckoned with in conservative politics in LA. They keep in touch and treat me lovingly.

So enjoy and be blessed on the home school ride for as long as it is right for your sons. Relax and trust their knowledge of what works best to help them stay motivated and on track. You'll know what to do because you love them and are trusting God to guide you.

You are doing a special and timely work with a worldwide impact. They will be free to travel with you and participate in living out your calling. They will learn more from that about real life than the artificial life and false values of the public school as it exists today. They'll stay close to each other and have varied shared memories to enrich them.

They'll have many friends in the area, especially if you find a loving church family who share your values.

Your dad is too old to comprehend the cultural unreality the pervades in schools and how bound up and limited the teachers are who love to teach and mentor and do what they know is right. You aren't. You and your wife, and maybe a tutor or two if needed over rough spots, can give them what no one else can, and your priorities will keep you sane and open to what education is all about. Your sons are worth whatever investment you choose to sacrifice to make.

You are above all your other giftings, an outstanding educator of all whose lives you bless online.

Go for the high calling and let your father learn how much he has to learn about holy fatherhood.

Love and prayers,


You have been very philosophical in figuring out what prompted your father to react as he has. Kudos for that. I realize that this is a difficult matter and I do not want to appear to be glib, but sometimes the answer is easier than you think. My daughters, now 33 & 35 were taught from a very young age that "you can only control yourself, not others". You are an able-thinking adult, do as your heart tells you with regard to your family, the rest will follow in its own time.

Dr kim. I write to say thanks for sharing and also hope to encourage you that you are managing to do a remarkable work in your family to be the turning point at which this pain will not be passed down to your children and so you now carry a heavy load. But please be sure also that god sees all your own good desires for love and peace between your dad and yourself and he honors those things and will pour many blessings into your life. I know people seem like they will never change but I find that while they may holler and scream they are listening in spite of themselves and so changes come to us all. Your dad may surprise you yet but even so you should also know what a great dad you are to do your very best for your boys. How lucky they are!! Wish all kids could experience the privilege and right to be loved and protected by their dads as so many are not and what a mess those kids are later in life struggeling to get things sorted out. Thankfully you pass on a loving heritage. God bless!

Dear Dr. Kim

I've read your amazing post on Reconciliation, plus most of the equally amazing comments following. It is mind-boggling! So much has been shared I won't add more, especially since (thankfully) I can't speak from a similar life experience. Just want to say how worthwhile it's been, reading all this, and that for me two of your statements stand out; "A person can't change into something that he can't feel." And, "A person can't give something that he doesn't have." Wise and True!

Thank you for sharing your insight. Blessings.

My heart goes out to you - your story is my story, and apparently from other readers' comments, many peoples story.

Now in my sixties, I finally found the answer to the veiled dislike between myself and my father - understanding! My counsellor got me to understand my father, his life, and why he is the way he is. We went back to his childhood - even to when he was a baby - to see what was happening in his family at the time, his position in the family, the effects of going to war at such a young age; on and on with his life so that at the end not only did I understand my father, but I felt very, very sorry for him. With that understanding, I changed. I didn't need him to change - only he can do that - but as I changed I could feel the softening in my heart for my father.

Now things are quite different. He can still be very cruel, angry, resentful and all the other negative things I know him to be, but I am different and he can't hurt me as much. I totally understand him now, and why he is the way he is. It makes me love him and appreciate him - this makes all the difference in the way we now communicate. When he's cruel, I can go to a place of understanding and forgive him straight away. I now reject all his negative comments, both past and present, and I guess that's the difference. Now, for now reason at all, he'll say that he loves me (shock!), or how well I've done at something (shock!) - and I know that this has all come about because I changed myself.

I don't know if my story will help anyone in the same situation, but I sincerely hope so. I believe we have the family we have for a reason, and it's our job to find out how to interact with each family member. It's not easy, but it is a challenge worth taking on.

Dear Dr Ben,

It is no always easy to understand exactly how our aged parents feel as we don't live their lives the way they were used to. I appreciate that you took the time and effort to try to put things right between him and you. You have done your part and if he is not going to budge and let you manage your family as you and your wife deems fit, then it is time to stop beating yourself up over it.

It is not an easy thing to do... to disregard our parents' sentiments as we Asians are brought up to respect and listen to them even though they are often wrong.

My siblings and I were lucky that both our parents, even though not highly educated, were able to adapt to the changing trends and times we all went through as a family. It was not always a bed of roses but we kids were allowed to expressed ourselves freely within limits which we were instinctively careful not to cross. Both my parents have passed on and even though they may not be the perfect mom and dad, no one could ever take their places in our hearts.

It is very ironical that when they were alive, we never take the trouble to love and miss them as much as when they are no longer with us. By then, all we could remember, whenever we think of them, are the good times we have had with them while they were alive and irking us with their greviances.

Our lives, whether we are family, friends or just passing acquaintances, are tied up in ways we cannot hope to understand in this lifetime. Some may call it affinity - a natural attraction between people which can be expressed in both positive and negative ways.

Just let unconditional love for your dad overflow from your heart...he need not know it but sooner or later he will be in tune to your good intentions and vibes.
Be blessed.

As you can see by the responses to this emotional charged confession of the sole, the river of life runs through us all. Developed through emotion molded by experience and harden by the inability for us to develop true empathy for one another. Belief, understanding and forgiveness is the foundation for setting the sole free no matter what storms are whirling around us. The calmness, sunshine and blue sky's sit in the eye of the storm and the eye of the storm sits in your heart with belief, understand and forgiveness as your shelter. Belief if the stake that is driven to the center of the earth and releases the molten emotion that can erupt from time to time and forgiveness is the cooling of the lava giving it the crust that contains the material to forgive reconcile and rebuild. I hope evolution catches both you me in time.

Just one thing: Have you considered that your father might have the right to keep his familylife private. And if you considered that, what was your thoughts?

Yes, by golly, let's keep all dirty laundry private. Let's not talk about any injustices that one human being perpetrates upon another, for the sake of the privacy of the perpetrator. Dear assaulted women, abused children, targets of any type of physical, emotional, or mental mistreatment or abuse, please keep your mouths shut because the person who wronged you would really like to keep their junk private.

Dear Anette, please don't delude yourself into thinking that what Dr. Kim has written about is a completely separate issue. One person trying to exert power and control over another person through physical, emotional, and/or mental intimidation is the common denominator. Once the micro becomes the macro, you get groups of people trying to exert power and control over other groups of people through physical, emotional, and/or mental intimidation. What happens between individuals then happens between groups of people: Genocide. War.

Physical. Emotional. Mental. Intimidation.

By writing about his struggles, it is clear from the responses here that Dr. Kim has allowed the possibility for many others who have experienced similar struggles to come together and feel connected; to learn from each others' experiences; to heal. With healing comes strength, and with strength comes the power to stand up for oneself as well as the power to forgive.

We cannot fight injustice on our own; we need to fight injustice as a community. And we cannot build a community without sharing our experiences.

But wait! Who cares about sharing experiences and communicating constructively with the purpose of building supportive relationships and encouraging kindness? That's right - it's more important for bullies to maintain their privacy.

This should be disseminated widely. A must-read, especially at this time of year in the U.S.A., for the majority of humans who have at least one difficult relationship within their family. To look at that person with loving kindness is courageous.

You inspired me 2 years ago with your version of a total body cleanse.
It "cured me" of years of food issues and bad eating habits.
You made me cry today with your courageous expression of
your personal feelings.
It will help me with years of emotional struggle with my family relationships.
You are a very special person and should be proud
of how much you have helped so many people.
I wish I could be so strong and giving and helpful
to others.
You are not alone and thanks for sharing!

Your pain exudes through your entire comments regarding your father. My heart goes out to you. In addition to attempting to reconcile with your father you are concurrently reconciling within your own psyche. A painful process. I hope sharing your thoughts and feelings with us has proven to be at least somewhat cathartic for you.

An admirer

Dear Dr. Kim,
I guess, when your father grew up, he learned that fathers are supposed to represent this particular character.
And now, since he showed the dark side of this, he has to lose his face - and to admit that, by sticking to this inhumane and victimising side of this character, and that this was wrong, is all the more difficult.
But couldn't (with or without you) a mediator, your aunt or your mother discuss this and sort this out with him?
How could he spoil the relationship with you and your side of his family for such a relatively insignificant dream?
How can his little dream be more important than the well-being of his grandsons and your relationship.
He certainly must understand this, at least if communicated by a neutral person he respects.
All the best!

Dr. K
I just wanted to express my gratitude for your beautifully honest and open posting. It is most encouraging for me as I am also in the middle of issues with members of my family.
I came to the same understanding as you, that we cannot save anyone from self-destructive ways of thinking, as frustrating as that is I know I can only let people be themselves whatever that may mean.

Dr. Kim, Your writing on this subject moved me as I am in a similar position. Our immigrant parents have
been deeply affected by their upbringing and culture. I was affected by your persistent willingness to
find a way to connect w/ your father despite the pain it was causing you. Your intention is pure despite
any outcome from your father's side.

My mother (who is still emotionally living in her European village despite 45 yrs of living in the U.S.) and the
unkind and self-serving personality traits she has continue to present a challenge to me after almost 60 years of being her daughter. Unconditional love and knowledge of child psychology are foreign to her. Understanding our parents' mindset and childhoods does make the journey
a bit easier for us. It does not, however, make their hurtful behavior something we should accept.

Thank you for taking the time to articulate your experience.

ALso, many thanks for the years of helpful information and insights your column has brought me as well
as the fabulous foam roller!

Many blessings to you,


Your beautiful letter sums up why I cherish your advice and all that you share with your readers. You are a very special person, Dr. Ben Kim, and I pray someday your father will realize what an amazing son he has raised. He's only 69, still many years to come to a better way of thinking. Your two sons are so fortunate to have you and your wife as parents. I applaud you for taking the brave step to homeschool. If I had my years to do over with my three children I would do the same thing! Public schools are not a healthy place to be mentally or physically. Thank you for all you do.

Thank you so very much for sharing. It does mean alot to others to hear your story and know that they aren't alone. I'll share this story with my son and pray that it helps us!
Thank you,

P.S. I wonder whether this was the first time that you had to stand up for such a "major" decision against your father.
If so, to "update" or adjust your relationship, he sooner or later had to learn such a lesson - not to continue to treat you like an adolescent son, but to accept you as an adult and equal.
His quiet "you decide" sounds like he may have done nothing less than that.
If you didn't do this already, it may be necessary to assure him that you understand that this argument was not a deliberate offence from his side, but merely a natural reaction rooted in his upbringing, that there are no hard feelings, and that you welcome him in a new relationship as equals and friends - not necessarily with such words, but through the (light-hearted, cheery or blithe?) way you communicate with him.

I am truly sorry for your situation and can empathize with it. When I changed my religion, my father would not speak to me for many years except to start an argument. It was perplexing given that he was not devout at all in his religious views. While it did not fix the situation, sometimes the road to forgiveness starts with ourselves. It made it bearable to know that God does forgive us when we are truly sorry for a mistake. Why do we think that we cannot forgive ourselves if God forgives us. So it helps to start with being able to overcome our inadequate feelings (we all have them) about ourselves first. It took many years for him to reconcile himself with me. Do not give up your beliefs to please another person, whoever that may be.

I have love what you have stood for since I subscribed. This is the best yet. I am proud of you, I pray for a peace within your father and I shed a tear because there is so much I need to purge. So yes you have helped at least me~alicia

Why not sign your boys up for an after school art program? Then you can still homeschool them and your dad can still walk them to class.

Thank-you Dr.Kim for your honesty and your ability to care deeply no matter what.
I have never been able to settle with a lack of reconciliation. You said that unlike your sister you are not hard wired to be able to live with an important conflict unresolved. I am aware that your sister has resolved in her own way. I have often wished that I could be more like that. I seem to need to reach an understanding even if it is not ideal in my mind. I don't feel well letting things sit on the back burner when it comes to relationships.

And yet, now as I write this, I see that in a few instances in my life, I have actually been able to at least make a choice to not expect what I would wish for in a conflicted situation when it was not going to happen at a given time. I always allow that things could change.

After a lifetime of lack of emotional and psychological support from my parents peppered with much mockery, teasing, hurting and scaring throughout my childhood, I finally let go of expecting to feel loved, respected or accepted by my parents in my early forties. Although I stopped expecting and being disappointed when it didn't happen, it still is somewhat painful to contemplate.

My father was a well respected civil engineer and very good to people outside of the family. Having him for a father was another situation altogether. As he and my mother visited for Christmas in our country home, my dad proceeded to tear me apart one more time. I told him I would never endure another abusive visit again. In that moment I was fine with maybe not ever seeing him again. Even though I continued to visit, I never allowed him to be abusive towards me again.

My husband would usually prefer to just let things of emotional concern to go unresolved and "blow over". With him, I am not able to be at peace in dealing with issues that way, as all it does is allow the same problem to resuface over and over again.
So I have a theory... My soul chose a life where my closest relationships have not been very supportive. One positive purpose for this that I can discern is that I came to this life to learn to believe in myself no matter whether the people I am close to give me the understanding and support I would like to have or not.

I am grateful for my creativity, my ability to heal with my hands, my ability to care deeply for all people and this beautiful world we are in. I am very concerned about what mankind is doing to our world by refusing to evolve in very important ways. All that I can see to do, is to keep loving, seeking joy, creating beauty wherever possible and extending forgiveness, as this "school"(human life) we are in is not exactly an easy program.
By the way I have met at least half a dozen children who were home schooled up here in Muskoka and each has gone on to success in their lives, excelled in post secondary programs and are generally more mature, civic minded and happy.
Thank-you for the space for me to write this. I love your newsletter!

Dear bro Ben Kim,

From a christian perspective, I would like to share these insights with you:

Jesus is the invisible head and authority of your family (of 4 members)
Your family values and practices are based on the written moral laws of the Bible.
You are the captain and watchman for your family. Your wife will be in submission to your leadership and her desire will be of you.
You will love her as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.
Her submission to you will be reciprocated with tenderness and gentleness from you.
As far as children's upbringing is concerned, it is your absolute responsibility to provide them with sound spiritual and moral rooting, in consultation with your wife.
Now, assuming that you and your wife are in godly unity, any interference from an "outside" source may be dealt with by employing the wisdom from the Bible. while consulting with godly counselors who have gone through similar experiences before.
At the end of the day,for whatever happens to your children, the man of the house will always be the first to give a responsible account or answer. So do it with joy and full authority from the start.
Finally, brother, I think you have done well in reconciling with your Dad. Nonetheless, with proper godly counsel and waiting upon the Lord,you will find much wisdom on how to reconcile between dealing with the "prodigal father" and maintaining authority of a father and husband with your precious family. I congratulate for your compassion and humility. shalom blessing. shalom cheers.

It is so helpful to know that others "suffer" in similar ways and that desired resolutions are just not always possible. I guess each side thinks he/she makes the most sense, is being reasonable. Perhaps the "process" builds something in us in un-understood ways; I believe it does. God bless and thanks for your column. We must be true to what we believe to be true. We'd feel worse if we went against our heart to go along with another's wishes and pressures.

Re: To Reconcile or Not

Dr. Kim, I haven't spoken to my Mother, who lives 10 minutes away, in over 4 years. I tried unsuccessfully to make amends- for HER wrongdoing (everyone I've mentioned the story to agrees with this, as I'm sure your closest fiends/family have agreed with you)- when the incident first happened, but she would not accept my invitation for reconciliation. I even followed advice I had read that said not to bring up "the incident" when extending your offer to get together, and then again when you do get together- that you should only offer and ask of the other party to "agree to disagree, yet still move forward." I hope these words will help you heal- quickly: KNOW that you ARE doing the right thing for your children because you are an educated, thought-ful and emotionally mature man who made this important decision with your wife- after much reflection- for the benefit of YOUR family AND SO it WAS the RIGHT decision. KNOW that whatever decisions you make in life will always be the right ones for YOUR situation (see previous sentence.) KNOW that not everybody will agree with your decisions all of the time but they are yours and you will live with them as you chose. KNOW that the ONLY thing you can do is TRY to reconcile- and you did. KNOW that since you tried your best to reconcile- with the purest of intentions to make both/all of your lives better, more peaceful, and more healthy- you can REASONABLY ASK NO MORE OF YOURSELF. KNOW that when you can reasonably ask no more of yourself, it is time to devote your emotional energies toward MORE PRODUCTIVE tasks. THEN leave things in G-d's hand to let you KNOW that YOU DID THE RIGHT THING by moving on with your life- for all of the people in your life who mean the most RIGHT NOW (your wife and children.) He does not want you to waste your precious time or resources here on Earth but instead, to make wise use of them by doing all you can to make this EARTH a better place- which you just did by sharing your story. Move on, reflect yet don't dwell, learn from yours and other's mistakes, enjoy your life and celebrate your blessings, especially your wife and children.

I think that you handled the situation wonderfully, because you stuck with your own beliefs, but you were respectful of your father's opinion also. Good for you. He is on his own journey. He makes his own choices and has to live with the results.

My mother is 95 and last year, she would get upset all the time and start crying. This went on for a few months. This was very unnerving for me to constantly see, as I had only seen my mother cry once when I was a teenager, (when she received word that her mother, my grandmother, had died in England).

I felt that my mother was acting unusually, and that she was probably depressed. The end result was that she went on a half dose of anti-depressants, and she is back to her normal happy self. She doesn't know that she is on this medication, so she never had an opinion about it. She just knows that she doesn't get upset and start crying now.

We all have to do what we think is right for our parents, in spite of their wishes. We have to put our own wishes first. Good for you.

Maggie P.
Oshawa, ON

Your comment is very interesting, and I'm sure you're right that your mom found herself in a depression. But when you say that she had practically never cried in all your life, it makes me think that perhaps her depression is not only biochemical. It can be that, as she nears the end of her life, a deep awareness of something missing is coming up in her.
There's a wonderful book by Marie de Hennezel, called Intimate Death: "How the Dying Teach Us How to Live", that could help you understand how this opening in her can let you grow closer to her before she goes... Many of us are missing out on the joy of true intimacy, and this has given me some help in trying to let it come- even though I know that with my parents it will never be all I could hope for.

Dr. Kim,

I am a new subscriber to your website and have appreciated your excellent tips toward a healthier mind and body.

I was touched with your honesty and openness with your family issue, your culture with its dynamics and expectations, and, particularly, sharing your conversations with your dad. As parents, you and your wife are ultimately responsible for the proper education and training of your children. So having weighed the pros and cons carefully, hold firmly to your decision. Don’t let your emotions overwhelm your sense of reason.

At the same time, it has been said, “Empathy is your pain in my heart.” It is obvious that your dad highly values education. He lacked much emotionally and educationally growing up in Korea and wants his children and grandchildren to receive the best opportunities in life, something that he missed out on. The man that he is today is largely rooted in his experiences and “from his exhausted and likely disillusioned” environment as a child. Did someone tenderly hold his hand as he walked to school? Based on your description, it is highly unlikely. He wants to be involved in your life, apparently too much. Smothering? Overbearing? Yes, but better than indifference. At least, he cares.

What I have found works for me and can work for any family on the face of this earth is the application of Bible principles. The principle that came to mind is Proverbs 25:15 (NWT): “By patience a commander is induced, and a mild tongue itself can break a bone.” Never underestimate the power of patience and kind words to overcome stiff opposition.

Changes in thinking and feelings take time, especially for a 69-year old man. Eventually, he may see the “fruits” of your labor of love and efforts. Continue to help your father appreciate his role as a nurturer and as a dispenser of age-old wisdom and experience. Grandparents can enrich their grandchildren immensely and vice versa. This is a special and important relationship.

Time moves forward and time lost is gone forever. The silent treatment works at times, with mixed results, but with many regrets over the long haul. As you stated, ‘You are wired differently.” Set an example for your children on how to handle difficult family situations. Apply godly principles. It will be an education that will last them a lifetime. Above all, don’t deprive your family of a rich history of love and togetherness. It’s worth the extra effort.

Dear Dr Kim
I am almost the same age as your father. I have two children and two grandhildren(5 and 3).
Whenever I find myself thinking of imposing my ideas, values, etc on them, I go and reread the wonderful part on children in Kahlil Gibran's
book, "The Prophet". Here is an excerpt:
..Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries wiht yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth....

The matter of education (home vs public schooling) is not the elder Mr. Kim's decision to make but on the other hand he can't help how he thinks and feels. I would say this is one of the stickiest, trickiest situations imaginable. We can't control the depth and intensity of another person's feelings. What little tiny bit of concession the Elder Kim made, to him it is a giant thing, and his heart is still aching. Only the direct intervention of God Himself can this whole thing be made right for all parties concerned.

There are some things that if my children did to my grandchildren (not yet born of course!) I believe I am capable of disowning them.

I am sorry for the pain this is causing you. You are doing the right thing trying to reconcile, not because he is right,(because yes, he is hurtful and selfish), but because you will know once your father is gone that you did everything you could, said everything you could, prayed everything you could. There is great pain in regret that maybe you could have done something, but then it is too late when the object of our regret is gone. At least you will not suffer this, and you just have to realize that he is choosing his own fate.

Your letter of self-righteous, justification saddened me. It had nothing to do with your children & home schooling, it was all about SELF & getting your way. Well, so be it you & your wife will raise your sons as you wish. You can vent your spleen about your Dad on your web page, justify your thoughts & intentions by raising his past, warts & all. Who is the judgemental & unforgiving one here. Honour your parents that all will go well with you?
Bringing up all his past, character traits, family training, culture did not sway me away from thinking how selfish you & your wife are under the guise of doing the best for your children.

There is no way to manage this conflict peacefully because you & your wife are the conflict. You are the irrational, controlling one's in this senario. Therefore you try to justify your decisions by getting your fur patted here on your page. how sad!
Nothing much changes, I see you very similar to your Father & him a frustrated man who has not had your education to articulate his thoughts as you so desire.

As for the home schooling. I have never found a well balanced homeschooled child. Well educated, yes, well balanced NO. I've been in Christian circles for 30+ years & heard EVERY tale, justification, argument...... It's all about SELF, not the children.
I've found just in observation the parents who generally choose to homeschool children are blinkered, proud, self-righteous folk. It's not about the children at all, it's about them & their controlling, perfectionist ideals. "No one can give our children what we can, we must protect them." Ultimately your boys have to fit into society, whether Korea, Russia, USA, wherever. Yes, they do get to socialise, usually with like minded homeschooling families who all think they are doing the best for their children. Maybe with others, usually with parents hovering not too far away to control their every interaction.

Whether we as parents like it or not we have to equip our children for this world, not some fantasy of how we would like it to be. In my experience I have NEVER seen a homeschooled adult who fits into society. They may fit into a corner of society, or church group etc. I have seen angry, frustrated home schooled adults who feel they were raised as freaks & can do nothing to reverse the decisions made for them. As children they know no different & trust their parents explicitley only to find out their parents had views like your Father when they became adults. & they were ripped -off. I wonder if you can find honest home schooled kids & glean from them how they feel as adults to their parents choice of homeschooling. Maybe, there are blogs out there?

Parenting is done throughout your childs life in the home & outside world, this includes so much educating, but where is the parent who can give EVERYTHING to their child? Our schooling system has flaws, there are many things I did not agree with & wished my children didn't see during their time at school. However, it skilled them for life, REAL life. I believe it is much harder to raise a child in the world than to closet them in the family bossom. What is better the view of two people or the love of two people to grow & encourage two boys to find who THEY really are? They need to swim, sink, float & sometimes drown in challenges that come their way & we as parents are there to guide & navigate as they learn to stand firm in who they are.There were times I was the only parent to raise concern & take my child from an activity, it was then that we could discuss why. It gave me even more opportunity to educate, debate, open their eyes adapt & form their own beliefs in society. I have witnessed many children who are confident, well educated, opinionated etc. from a homeschooled environment. Wonderful adults, but so very sad & cannot find their place in this world & judge others that do not live by their standards. Is this what you want for your boys?

Maybe, just maybe, you & your wife could fight a greater battle for the good of your boys & find the best school that suits your ideals, sacrifice your desires & plan for the greater good in the lives of these boys. Maybe your Father can't articulate his views to his well educated, perfect son & he is hurting? His dream of walking them to school is a grand dream, not a selfish dream. What wisdom he could impart on those walks, what discussions they could have about their days at school - educating them! How I wish we had that availablity for our children while they were walking to school. In conclusion I believe you & your wife are not only robbing your boys, yourselves & your Father of all life would deal, oportunities lost that would create a much varied tapestry of life for you all.

I wonder if your Father has read your public letter & how difficult it has been for him? A man who probably like the rest of us did the best he knew to raise his son, who now knows so much more than him.
God bless you in your decisions. One day you will have to give up those precious son's to the world you hid them from.

Dr. Kim, please don't let Gail's post unnerve you. She is NOT correct. Methinks she is reacting because she sees herself in this post--either as a disgruntled homeschooled adult or as someone like your father. Well, then, that's HER issue--not yours.

This thread is very long (how many posts now?) but so interesting that I have endured to the end. It's not often one gets to be a fly on the wall...

Thank you!

Dear Gail, I was surprised and deeply disheartened reading your comment. You may not realize how judgemental and harsh your comment sounds, especially after someone opens up about his personal struggles. I don't know what types of Christian circles you've been around, but where is the "love and grace" in your words of criticism? I am a public school teacher, mother, and friend of homeschoolers and find your words to be very hurtful and judgmental. Please don't throw such negativity around then use God's name to wish blessings on someone you just trashed. Ghandhi said "I like your Christ but not your Christian." May God's grace have new meaning for you today.

All of the faults and flaws you see in homeschooled children and in adults who were homeschooled are also to be seen in people who attended school. For example, you refer to "people who can't find their place in the world"; and "adults who are judgmental of others who do not live by their standards". Every single human being I know who has these unfortunate qualities received between 9 & 12 years of formal public (or private) education and in some cases post-secondary schooling.

There is so much more to a human being than where they were educated. We are not born blank slates. You say to Dr. & Mrs. Kim: "ultimately your boys have to fit into society". Depends on what you mean by "fit". Home educated or school educated, I can assure you I would not want my children to fit into our dissolute, degenerate society.

Ben & Margaret. I have news for you: Gail and people who share her opinions - and feel totally comfortable letting you know those opinions - are only the beginning. So relax and educate your children according to your conscience. I sense that this thing you are going through right now is causing you much grief but you must face it. There are no guarantees in life.

Whenever parents do something with their children outside of the dominant and popular trend, then today - and 60 years from today - any difficulty, sickness, flaw, maladjustment or unhappiness those children may experience will, yes, be attributed to having been raised in a way not totally accepted by the majority.

This much I know: when homeschooled children want to go to school, they will let you know. And I'd say, "Sure, kids, you can give it a try, with our blessing. Let's see how it works."

WOW! You are cruel! Dr. Kim, from what I can tell is an open, honest and enlightened being. If you are a so called Christian you belong in the Dark Ages! He is a man trying to resolve with his abusive father. That is far from self-righteous and selfish.
If you had an ounce of wisdom you would see the importance of his communication in his letter by the sheer magnitude of the responses he has received about this. None of us are perfect, but at least there are people like Dr. Kim that are trying and reaching out into the world to address issues that affect the majority of people and ultimately their health.
"Shutting up" and "putting up" has not worked over many centuries.If anything it has brought humanity to an incredible physical and mental health crisis. He is a healer and these matters must be discussed as they are the root cause of so much illnes.
I spent seven years learning from Native North American medicine people and they taught me that a true healer shares the truth.

I worked in the school system in Ontario for 14 years and as far as I can see there are many more disturbed, displaced children than ever before. That, in my mind has much more to do with the state of the world and the adults who rule it.
People are not evolving in ways that they must and you are an excellent example of that.
It is not so much the schooling, but the family situation that helps the child to learn to discern and make decisions.
You, Gail, are so insulting and abusive that it is astounding! Re: your comment about Dr. Kim's "fur" being stroked. What a horrible comment. I pity your children if you have any. If you will speak this way to someone you do not know, what in heaven's name must the people close to you have to endure.
I personally know many children who have been home schooled and schooled in the public system. The homeschooled kids do better or equally as well as the public schooled kids. Children are not isolated in the world anymore. The whole world, warts and all, invades their homes continually through television and computers.Your "God Bless" comment at the end of your awful diatribe was an insult to God. May the Creator of All That Is forgive you!

My daughter home schooled her three boys, and they are exceptionally fine and highly respected young men. Her oldest is in charge of one third of the public school teachers in Casper Wyoming and is a wonderful husband and father. They are respectful and responsible young adults who love their family. Socially, they are well adjusted as well . . . free from negative peer pressure while growing up yet had good Christian frindships along the way.

Are you saying that kids that have been bullied belong in school to suffer? No, one size DOES NOT fit all. What about gifted or delayed children who need extra attention and just can't get it at school because of crowding? I went to school and only WISH I was homeschooled, especially for high school. As far as not knowing anyone in your circles that has functioned well after being homeschooled, that's just your anecdotal evidence. How about outside Christian circles? My daughter has been around plenty of "schooled" and "well-socialized kids"... who then socialized their way into drugs and bad behavior such as shoplifting. Who returned the merchandise later? My daughter, the homeschooled teenager who was their friend. She was a guiding moral light for plenty of other regular schooled kids, including public schooled ones, Christian schooled ones, and private schooled ones. Imagine how proud her dad and I were when she told us that, and she learned it from watching us, not teachers or other students all day long.

You see, there are homeschooling parents who KNOW not to shelter their child... and I certainly did not. She got to go to prom with her friends from school. She got to go to football games. She also got to graduate early and pursue her dreams not having to wait like her friends did, because she was ready and earned it! We traveled during the school year, while other kids were locked into a preset schedule, and she was able to gets hands-on lessons about the world rather than from a textbook.

Maybe some will do well in a homeschooling environment, and some won't. Likewise, some will do well in a school and some won't! There are many ways to raise a child! It all depends on the children, and in the case of homeschooling, if the parents are willing and able. It's a huge sacrifice, but when done right, there is no comparison at the end of the day. That parent can say that they were able to truly teach their child about life with confidence, and with the help of a rounded education that THEY choose, including socialization opportunities with all strata of society. Schooling is quite limited that way, since your kids will be around the same group of kids and adults, day after day, mostly those of their own age. Homeschooling is BETTER socialization because you can mix it up and have them learn with many age groups and socialize with more adult mentors or your choosing. Further, we get to spend less and less time with our precious children as they grow older, and we won't regret the extra time with them.

The key is that if a parent can find out and give a child what they need, they are really doing what is best for the child, not for them!

Don't throw your evidence around like it's the end all of wisdom, and don't judge Dr. Kim because you have no idea if his children have special needs or if he is putting them in supplementary classes where they will learn certain subjects or engage in sports teams with others while doing some at home. My daughter has a lot of friends and is very respected for her accomplishments when compared to other teens. We have a fabulous relationship. Besides, were you homeschooled? Apparently not, since your post has a lot of grammatical errors...

Wow, you are genuinely inspirational. Can't recall a more sensitive, intelligent, mature written article of such an intimate nature. Such empathy is seldom shared these days.

I'm more than certain if your father were to read your letter he would be moved to tears and prouder than you can ever imagine to have such a son as you.

I am 68 years old and aware of so many of my own faults, and while there is very little I can teach you, sometimes the most seemingly pigheaded, obtuse and reactive among us can see so clearly the right path to take in a situation, but fall prey to that same old recording stuck inside since youth. Even in their obstinence they wonder why the recording continues and why they can't stop repeating the same reaction time and again. But that reaction may not have occurred if it were not triggered by some trepidation, attitude or anxiety on your part. Even without mentioning anything regarding home schooling, these anticipations are picked up subliminally and the cycle begins again.

There's so much room for miscommunicating when writing and even more when speaking, but I'm fool enough to continue.
I think your deep understanding of your father's behavior and seeing through it is key. As you see your father is a good soul your communications should continue as though you can only see the good in your father and cannot at all see a past behavior you did not welcome; and to be so at peace your father will feel safe enough to assert a positive unselfish attitude, which is to accept your decision to home school your children. While your father said you spoiled his dream it is not the whole truth but the lesser truth. More people have fought to the death to "save face" than to save losing a dream - and you said it yourself, his tradition was to have been advised strongly by his parents on serious matters and now when he is not, gets "massively offended" and "loses his temper". It's an embarrassment, a backhand. The shock, how to react, you do not need his permission. How does he rid himself of that "programming" is his problem. And on that score I would think often contemplating, praying and crying his eyes out for the feeling of abandonment, and ultimately the fear of death of ego. But again, that's your father's problem, and you can't solve that but feel empathy and sympathize.

Your father most likely does already know that home schooling does not mean to sit and learn at home and nothing more but does entail outings on a weekly or monthly basis to libraries, museums, and/or movies that stimulate the learning experience like films regarding history and various cultures. He too is most likely aware now that home schooling also means meeting with other families of home schoolers to form a small but more meaningful and much more supervised and social community of home schooled children, and who, ultimately, are 99% more likely to get a better education than the deteriorating education system that is the alternative.

I think I speak for the joy of talking. But you are already doing what I wish I could do. And your father's problem is his, not yours, but your understanding and love to your father is what makes you so special. He's lucky to have you for sure.
I talk too much. God bless you both.

You're post reminded me a lot of the conflicted feelings I have had toward my mother for, well, a couple of decades now! I won't go into any details, but I will say that things have changed for the better between the two of us. And the change happened almost literally overnight. It's as if a light switch was turned on and - poof! - an easier relationship appeared.

For what it's worth, I do believe that we bring challenges into our lives for our own spiritual growth. Nothing just 'happens' to us, and none of the people in our lives are there without reason. This may be an opportunity for you. For what, I couldn't possibly know...maybe even just an opportunity to extend forgiveness. We all need those sometimes, I think.

Several other people here have already given suggestions for books but if you can bear yet another, "Radical Forgiveness" by Colin Tipping was especially helpful for me.

You've already come to realize something very important: you cannot 'save' your father from himself. The fact that you have spent so much energy trying to understand the root of his behavior is laudable. That can be a first step to forgiveness. Sometimes, though, just being willing to forgive is all that's necessary. Because forgiveness isn't always about's really just about letting go so that we can continue to move forward.

I thank you for sharing such a personal experience. It sounds to me like the relationship between you and your father is one which has to be handled in a very careful manner and yet the very fact that he is your father calls on the need to deal with the matter in a very profound way. Coming from an Asian background myself, I know that filial piety is one of the most important aspects within family relationships. You sound very honest and the love for your family is spelled out in every sentence you wrote. Your love for them as well as for your parents is clearly unconditional. In my opinion, you have already forgiven your father from the bottom of your heart. I believe there is not much more you can do from your part. Your father, on the other hand, does not seem to be able to express his feelings openly. Yes, his life was not all that easy and he may have lacked the feeling of being loved or of being nurtured by love. Despite that, he most likely knew that his parents loved him, only expressed in a different way if at all. The fact that he is 69 years old should not in any way prevent him from changing his way of thinking, from learning from others especially the younger generations and from redefining the meaning of love, if there is need for that. It is up to him to honestly decide to make that change and allow full reconciliation to occur. The belief that the older generation cannot be changed is not all that correct. We as human beings have come here to learn and it is up to each and every one of us to fulfill this duty at any point in our lives. Forgiveness is a lesson hard learned, but so incredibly loving! I send you and your father deep, loving healing. May love guide you both in the path to reconciliation!

Thank you for your thoughts, your openness, honesty, and your vulnerability.You have already helped so many by being a voice of kindness and gentleness. I am a 2nd generation Korean American who waited along with my husband for 6 long years to receive my parents' blessing for our marriage. I can tell you every painful step was worth the wait. My parents threatened to disown me and I thought about eloping, but hindsight is always 20/20 and I'm so thankful for how our relationships are now. Things are not perfect, but my parents were the happiest people at our wedding (next to my husband and me), 9 years ago! Our constant prayer during that time was Proverbs 21:1 "the heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord and He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases". We cannot change someone else's heart, but through prayer and more prayer I've witnessed God soften my father's and mine. We CAN choose to forgive over and over again. We all desire our parents' love and approval but we extend grace because they are human and fallible, like everyone of us. We can't do it on our own, we need a supernatural kind of love, we need a loving community around us, we need God's grace. He never promised life would be easy, just that He would always be with us. Forgiveness is our responsibility because it's ultimately for our best. I pray you would experience His love and forgiveness and supernatural love for your father, so YOU can experience His joy and peace as a result.

I originally came to your blog looking for a Kim Chi recipe (which, by the way, I did find and is wonderful) but i stayed because i heard something unique in your voice. I can't quite identify it but there is a warmth, a sincerity that comes out in your writing that I rarely encounter. Something else to; compassion.
Your article was very moving. When I read the part where your father shared his dream, I literally gasped. Even now the hair on my arms is standing on end.
I wouldn't begin to give you advice. Obviously you have given this situation and your decision much thought. You must derive great comfort from the fact that your wife supports you through all this.
This post reminds me of the most important lessons I have learned in life, to take responsibility for my actions, to respect others, to forgive seventy times seven times and to always leave the door into my life open a crack just in case someone someday may decide they want to come back in.
I have set a guard around my heart, and his name is love.

Hello Dr. Kim,

We are sort of in the same boat with regards to our parents' outlook about homeschooling. I am planning to home-school my children too and would like to ask for your recommendation with regards to accredited home-school programs.

Thank you, Abby

Hello Abby,

We live in the province of Ontario so we follow the curriculum outlined by the Ontario Ministry of Education. I use what I can find to fulfill the requirements outlined within this curriculum. There are many online websites that have free educational materials such as worksheets and lesson ideas, and I also find a lot of resources at our local public library. I do, however, use the Singapore math program because I need help teaching mathematics in a structured way where the progression is logical.

I encourage you to review the curriculum outlined by the state or province in which you live, for the grades that are relevant to your family. I also encourage you to get in touch with your local homeschooling community - my family has found the support and information we receive from the other homeschooling families in our area to be invaluable.

All the best,

Margaret Kim

Your timing on publishing this letter is incredible, as you know, 11-11-11. As well, it is good timing for the rift in my life between my husband and his father, which of course does not stayed contained, as you so aptly stated. It has engulfed our relationship with one another and with his step-mother as well. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing such an emotional, exasperating yet loving dilemna. My prayer is for some healing for you and yours.
Sandi Herzog

Thanks so much for this. i am sharing it with a Korean friend, hoping it will help her. But the problems you mention, and your insight about your father, are not unique to Koreans by any means!
I think it's your willingness to go the extra mile in trying to understand others that makes your insights so helpful.
best wishes, Janet

I believe that your father's immature reaction is because he reverted back to the powerless little boy who
rarely felt like he had a say in any family decisions. So for your sanity, the next time your dad pushes your buttons, I encourage you to try to see him not as your dad, but as that frustrated little boy who feels like he never gets his way. It's almost impossible to have an adult conversation with someone who is acting out of child mode.

I think you handled it very well by keeping your cool and not getting defensive. You can't change another person, the only thing you can control is how you choose to respond to another person. Good Luck! dk

Thank you for the courage to share your painful experience. It is helpful and useful for others to see that we all struggle, both you and your father, as a part of the life journey.

After reading your article I am so impressed by your thoughtfulness, honesty and insights, both about your own feelings and also your recognizing where your father is coming from. I believe you have handled this situation wonderfully. Trust yourself, forgive yourself and your father, and keep reminding yourself to let go of all critical thoughts and continue to view your father through eyes of love and compassion and bless him daily in your mind. This will give you peace. You are such a wise, compassionate and loving person. I always find something of value in your posts. God Bless you and your family. Keep up the good work.

Dear Dr Ben,

Thank you for sharing from your heart. I can relate with your situation very well. I too, went through almost 50 years of ambiguous feelings about my parents and for the same kind of reasons. My mother was Asian and while she left her country behind, she never left her culture.

It's been a long journey, allowing me the time to sift and sort through this process. While I can and do understand what has been written about forgiveness here, I will say, that it is not natural for us to forgive as Jesus did. It takes asking Him for His grace, to be able to have the ability to forgive those who treat us unjustly.

It also says about parents and fathers in particular, 'Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.' ~ Ephesians 6:4.

Otherwise, children will spend a lifetime trying to make sense of life and who they are, whether or not they are loved and worthy of love (ever good enough)and filled with a deep sense of anger that comes out through depression, confusion, no purpose in life, as well as a possible sense of hopelessness in life.

Proverbs says, 'Do not keep company with an angry man, lest you learn his ways.'

Now, that my mother has passed, (she was my abuser/my dad abandoned his family), I have had some time to gather my thoughts together into writing an expression on what I've learned about being able to foster healthy Relationships.(I'm not intending to promote myself here by posting the link, I am sharing it with you Dr. Ben, as in what I have learned through this very long process in my journey, while keeping the door open to more change ahead. I have changed so much through the years.

I find that forgiveness is primarily for our benefit and not so much for others. It does influence others, but primarily, forgiveness reveals to us that our real source of peace and trust lies with God, because people will always let us down as we have let ourselves and others down, intentionally or not.

I've had to learn that forgiveness doesn't mean we continue to put our self in an unhealthy situation, especially exposing the precious and tender souls of our children to such behavior over and over again. And how we speak of the offender in the presence of our children is equally as influential in how we respond when in the offender's presence.

To the journey.

Sending you the Grace and Peace of God which surpasses all our understanding, and trusting in the highest outcome for all involved in this situation.

With God's Love In His Spirit,


You are very brave to be so transparent and vulnerable to the public at large. God is using you to minister to people who find themselves in similar relationships. I learned the hard way that we cannot change others and can barely change ourselves without the help of God and/or a support group. I found the key to my emotional health was to set boundaries, forgive, forgive, forgive, and love, love, love. It's not always easy, but it does get easier. I pray that God will heal and restore a healthy relationship between you and your father. He likes to do that kind of thing. Believe me, I know.

Thank you for the depth of self-exploration you share as you came alongside your father and how his past still so strongly influences him today. Many who make the decision your sister has made, do so out of bitterness. Many who make the decision you have made, do so out of blindness and neediness. It seems to me that you have each sought what is healthiest for you both, thoughtfully and with deep awareness.

You are a son to make a man proud, however your father might behave.

God bless you,
One who appreciates you

Thank you Dr. Kim for your honesty, for being vulnerable with us by sharing your experience with your dad, and for allowing us into your life.

Your story really resonates with me because I have a similar relationship with my father. He is the epitome of the strong silent type and when he did speak, it was usually to give words of criticism and discouragement.

For a large part of my life, I lived to please him and he would not be pleased. I did very well in school by the standards of most, but he always looked for the 'extra point'. In particular, I remember bringing home a 99% I had received on a math quiz from a VERY difficult teacher. The grade was so remarkable, even other teachers commented on how well I did in that particular teacher's class. I brought my test to show my father thinking he would be proud. He looked at it, looked at me and asked me how could I be so careless? If I was paying attention, I could have gotten 100%. I was crushed. I did not recover from that comment until some 15 years later when I graduated from graduate school.

We too had a situation where he stopped speaking to me for a decision I made regarding my education and my majors in college. I am Canadian, but decided to attend school in the US. He accused me of not caring about him or my mother and said I would never find a job in Canada once I returned and that I was being selfish by leaving home. Don't get me wrong. He wanted to me attend college, in fact, it was not an option, but I was to do it on his terms and by his ways. I was to have the major he selected and pursue the career he chose for me.

In any case, I have tried on several occasions to contact him and speak with him in an effort to "reconcile" our relationship. He has made no attempts to return my overtures. It has been especially painful as I watch him pursue and maintain a loving relationship with my younger sister.

I tried to do what your sister did and distance myself, thinking that I could live that way, but it did not help. It ate away at my heart.

I prayed about it and being the very traditional Christian child of West Indian parents that I was, I thought that not reconciling with my father would keep in in disgrace with my Lord.

But the Lord showed me that was not the case. He showed me that forgiveness on my part was far more important than reconciliation. I could be reconciled with my father, but if I did not forgive him, it would kill me.

I was shown that reconciliation does not only mean being restored, but it also means settling, resolving. So, I resolved in my heart that I would forgive my father. I have not gotten a chance to tell him this. I call him for his birthday every year for the last three of the seven years we have not spoken. He does not return my call, but I am told that he speaks well of me, his daughter 'in America'. It would be nice if I could talk to him and pray that the Lord will create that opportunity if He sees fit, but for now I have found peace knowing that my heart is changed.

I don't normally respond to articles and blogs and such, but your piece really touched me because I fully understand what you are going through. I understand the feeling of pain and hurt from rejection, but still wanting to please.

I will keep you and your father in my prayers. I know deep down that my father loves me, but he just cannot show it. Your father loves you, but is showing it in the only way he knows, and was probably taught, how. I know that pride and selfishness have probably caused both our fathers more pain that we can imagine. BUT, I will not let my father's inability to demonstrate that love ruin my ability to do so for my friends, loved ones, and family.

You have shown a very loving and mature way of handling your situation with your father. I truly believe that your boys will appreciate what you are doing for them and I am proud that you are demonstrating to them what a Christian man does. Your father is in pain and probably will never be able to give you the 'satisfaction' that you seek in agreeing with your home school decision. I do believe however, that you have made the best decision of all for yourself, your wife, and your boys: You have forgiven him.

God bless you and your family and thank you very much for sharing.


Congratulations on your decision! Reconciliation is definately the best option. I'm a homeschool mom and it is really worth the effort. My dad didn't quite like the idea at first either. We live in Brazil, and we homeschool in English. After he saw my daughter reading both in English and Portuguese (without us teaching her Portuguese) he was so proud of her, and fully supports now.
We'll pray for you and your father. I believe in time he will also be proud of what you are doing.
An idea that came to my mind as I was reading. If you can, try to get him involved in the process. Without him noticing at first (of course), like taking him along field trips, having the kids interview him on what they are studying, specially if it is something he really knows about it. It could help.
God bless!

Dr. Ben, you are doing an amazing job, you have a lot ot patience with your father. You may want to try some meridian tapping on your conflicted emotions and thoughts about your relationship with your dad.
I did EFT tapping on a similar topic (not as severe) and it changed everything. I have no more conflicts with the person and they stopped attacking me verbally. They still do it to others and that hurts.

So you would tap on your own meridian points while thinking and verbalizing what is going on in your head. Carol Look, Nick Ortner are good people in the EFT field. Hope you check it out.

Dear Dr Kim,

Being an Asian and Malaysian in particular, we younger generations are expected to maintain (and very proud of it) the values and cultures of respecting the elders, more so the parents, and at the same time to hold tight to our decision without hurting them. Like old Malay proverb "pulling out a strand of hair from a flour, without cutting the hair and scatter the flour". The law of restitution takes place in cycle where we soon going to be creased immortals. However, pleased to read how you care for your parents and the way you treat them and it showed that some Oriental values are deep embedded in you. Pass it to your next generation, please. Thank you for all the good articles.

This is your buddy Jerry from CA.
I really enjoyed your letter here. I am little surprised by your letter here by your reaction(Not that you should have listened to your father ;). Yes, of course home schooling is not a small matter and it is definitely very important one. My wife recommend home schooling if the parents are really dedicated to their children and I know you are, so I am supportive of your decision.

I always thought that my mom is self centered as well which is true. Though I think about her that way, I do not judge her for who she is. There is a movie that I really like. "Armageddon". In that movie, Bruce Willis's daughter and him have lots of issues. Right before Bruce Willis blow himself up, his daughter says to his father, "I, um, I lied to you, too, when I told you that I didn't wanna be like you, because I am like you. Everything good that I have inside of me I have from you." When I see this part, I always think about how I am like my parents or more like my mom(my wife tells me so). There are things that do not like about my mom, but like you said, we are like orange... or banana... :)
I am not as good writer as you are, but I hope you get my point.

I just wish that you find ways to live peacefully with your father and I will pray for you. BTW, I really liked the part where you said that about not lifting spoon on dinner table before your father. We do that too in my family, but trust me. That doesn't make me a king ;) You know who is king in my family.

I will ttyl my good old friend.


Hi Dr. Kim, My response is untimely, yet appropriate. You'll recognize that you are similar to your father in that you took him to the place where he felt defeated, then gave him an opportunity to enjoy a different success. Similar to your accounting of what was important to you as a small boy, respect and appreciate what your father can give your sons: confidence in their abilities. Plan and share your plan for him to assist in your sons' education, he has a lot to offer them. Walks together in the park (public recognition) and he can be telling them about their Korean culture, or playing catch with them. Give them what you had with your father, you'll enable him to remake his dream of public recognition as a great grandfather, and your boys will enjoy all the times with him just as you enjoyed. "Why my hard-wiring is this way, I don't know. He did give me the gift of being confident in my abilities. As a five or six year old, I remember lying beside him in bed while he would list all of the things I was good at. Our times playing catch in the backyard - even the time when I accidentally launched a ball through a basement window - are bittersweet for me - bitter because I was always one mistake away from his disapproval, and sweet because nothing felt as good as seeing my father proud of my abilities. Maybe these and other similar memories that are deeply embedded into my grey matter are responsible for me not having the mechanism that my older sister has to cut off when indicated and move forward. " You'll be fine. - Janet -





Margaret is a lucky woman to have found a husband and father like you.

Your father will come around. Perhaps he can take them to their music lessons or sports outings. This change in their education does not mean he cannot participate and he will realize that. It's possible the he may be able to be more involved with them, if you want.

Your father twists you up because he knows he can. You are a reliable frontier for him to conquer when the notion strikes him.

As a 30-year-old Korean-American, I can relate to what you're going through.

The relationship between me and my mom is a very loving one that has its agonizing moments. When I disagree with her, my mom sees herself as someone who worked all her life to make life better for her children, only to find out that they've grown into selfish jerks who don't appreciate or respect her.

To understand the perspective of people in her generation, I am reading, "Please look after Mom," by Kyung Sook Shin. It made me realize that like the children in the book, I haven't been affectionate enough and shown gratitude. I can make a point of showing my appreciation for her by calling and visiting more frequently and anticipating her needs. I think she would appreciate it if there are chores that needs to get done, and I do them without her asking me to do them. These acts can help me to reconcile without having to compromise my stance that I should make my own decisions.

Dr Ben, I admire how carefully you consider your relationships. You expressed respect, caring and love for your parents (especially your father), you considered your helpmate in life your wife and of course your two sons - your future.

I do sympathize with you -In your quest to reconcile with your father, you agonise over your duty as a son (a son your dad can be very proud of ) and your wish for the welfare of your wife and sons. Your dad's tyrannical ways (due to the poor treatment at the hands of his exhausted parents) are a direct result of not being guided in a loving and caring way that instil into youngsters how to deal with life's ups and downs in a well adjusted caring manner that allows conflict to be averted and positive well-being.

This lack of being able to be empathetic and considerate of others, and the need to fulfil one's own (in this case your father's) wishes at the cost of someone else's happiness and welfare, should not be perpetuated by his example to your children.

Their welfare is far more important and wide reaching than their grandfather's perceived “disrespect” against him. It would seem to me that he has not considered this – that he is imposing his demands on you and your sons (because you are male and your children are male that that is even more important than a mere female – that is probably why your oldest sister is able to disassociate herself because she was never so important in his scheme of things. ) And that he is in fact continuing a disregard that was shown him when he was a child. How to gently explain that to him..?

I do love that you are a strong man and that you are your own man willing to stand against the pain that you feel at your father's temper outbursts and unbending attitude. Your mum values this and is able to adjust and respect your wishes. Something your father seems unwilling to do and expects you to put him and his demands above the needs and welfare of your wife and young sons.

I like the suggestion some of the people who posted on here saying to involve him so that his dream of walking his grandsons to school is actually much improved when he comes to the (homeschool) class and tells his stories to his grandsons and they can interact with him -
hopefully he would be open to questions and thoughts from his grandsons. (Discreetly ensure that he does not try to brainwash them or intimidate them with his demands of respecting the “King” of the family!)

Your wife's job will be so much harder trying to gently deflect him from being too rigid
and putting demands on the boys. But over time he will mellow and come to enjoy
his place in your family life .

Please do encourage your mother to come and also tell her story to your grandsons, her story is just as important, perhaps even more so, as she has dealt with your father's harsh view of life and still retains the ability to be see things from another's viewpoint. Her influence on your life is probably far more important and far reaching than that of your father's valuable and important contribution.

It is good to teach your sons that “males” are not more important than “females” that they are equally
important and in a partnership that it works much much better when both have equal standing.
It makes for a happier and healthier relationship.

My husband and I homeschooled our two sons whilst on an Around Australia Motorhome Trip.
It was difficult to keep their attention on the schooling instead of the blue wild yonder, but overall
they benefited greatly in their two year homeschooling with their father teaching about Maths and Science and their mother (me) teaching all the other subjects. They achieved very high marks and never looked back in fact the eldest son completed his final years at high school homeschooling (mostly under his own steam) and he did very well indeed. Both are turned out to be polite, well adjusted, hardworking and happy men.

So I wish you all the best – look to the future and do what is right in your heart. Peggy in Queensland Australia

Dear Dr. Kim, Thank you for sharing your thoughts. To reconcile or not to reconcile? The answer is definitely to reconcile!
It is understandable how you got frustrated when your attempts to reconcile were not reciprocated. We pass through that everyday but in different forms. When an idea you think is great for your company is shot down in a boardroom, you get frustrated for days until you get over it. But God created us differently and our differences are what makes the world beautiful. At the same time, our differences cause misery in the world when we fail to handle them appropriately.
Your fathers dream of holding your sons hands to school is not a selfish act to please himself but an act of love because his happiness is derived from the happiness of others. For me this is the greatest strength of your dad! Forget your frustrations for a moment: Did you know that there are many people who derive happiness from the agony of others? Or people who get angry when they see you happy?
Imagine how you would feel if your father was such a person. And they are not far.I personally now a grandfather who loved seeing his grandchildren suffering until his daughter in-law had to run away with the children! I loved it when you "went into your dad's head" and imagined what made him behave the way he did. And there lay the answers. Growing up in a difficult environment made him hate others growing in it. That is why his sentiments against home schooling are overwhelming. He can not imagine an alternative to public schooling. For him it is a complete disorientation of culture. And like you could'nt easily handle his silence, it is difficult for him to handle your decision. But time is the best healer and five years from now you will have recovered your bearings and will be wondering why there was all the hullabaloo in the first place.
Lastly, this is not in direct comment on your decision, but disagreement on home schooling is normal. After all, the debate of home versus public schooling still rages on globally. I have heard that in some countries homeschooling is even illegal! And some debates are won long after the debate has ended, when events prove one side right or wrong.
Time will heal both of you. But your dad is such a good and valuable dad. He is well intentioned though his methods may not rhyme with your. God bless you.

Dr. Kim: I read the struggles that you went with your father and sons and believe me, I understand wholeheartdely your pain. I'm in the same situation but with different problems. I see that you still want to be a good son and talk to your father like it hasn't happen. But, believe me, your father won't change. THe best you can do it's stay away from him and pray for your healing. Yes, you do have a broken heart and needs to heal. Your father is in many ways like my mother, very inflexible and whatever they say it's the law! That's something to this day I don't understand. But, I read the book "Toxic Parents" by Dr. Susan Forward and I realized that our parents won't budge not even for the grandkids. I came to realized that my mother won't change and I needed to change my relationship with her. On top of that, my mother now has Alzheimer and that makes it even more difficult. Dr. Kim, I respect that fact that you want to keep your relationship with your father, but sometimes we need to choose our battles: some we have to set aside and move on.Others, we have to realized that nothing will change and we have to leave it as it is. I wish you and your family good vibrations and love in this difficult time in life. I'm still overcoming the disappointment in my mother but I know now that nothing it's going to change. Mariella.

There is a difference in those raised here versus in asia. Your father has traditional values and sees respect as very important.

What he does not see is how school has changed. Here in the USA the
school education is horrible. The powers that be have deteriorated the
system so that kids are robotic test takers who rarely get any gym or creative classes that all kids need to express themselves. School should be FUN, INTERESTING, and STIMULATES THEIR DESIRE TO LEARN.

Here we can find a few Rudolf Steiner type schooling options. These are
private schools that offer an ARTS BASED EDUCATION; very innovative.

Home schooling is a very positive choice based on the existing school system. You may be able to find other parents who home school and share
your thoughts and experiences. Also to create more socialization.

Thank you for taking the time to share your feelings, you are awesome.
namaste', rachel

Thanks Kim for sharing with us from your heart. I had never seen my father since i was born and am in 30+ and that affected me alot as i grew up. I grew up a very bitter person and i had alot of anger towards my father- i real hated him and that affected me alot. As i grew up i could not trust any man and what i could see in them is rejection the way my father rejected me. It was until i shared with a friend that i got the healing and now am able to pray and bless my father though i have never seen him and i don't know if is alive or dead. I used to feel ashamed to even share with any one about my situation but now am a free person. Am gland you understand where your father is coming from and you are lucky to have him and i could have done anything to have a father like him. One thing admire about your father, is that he cares. Blessings and i wish your the best with your father.

Hi Ben,

I just now finished reading the sad case of your Dad which you have done so well in expressing. Yes, I can see why he is the way he is. I am now 70 years old and I see my own errors of the past with emotions blighted from experience - but not the way your Dad has or you have as his son. But I have come to realize something about Our Father in Heaven. There is a reason why His Son has taught us that part of the Lord's Prayer instructs us to pray "Thy will be done on earth 'as it is in Heaven'". It teaches to expand our thinking about what God's will is - in heaven - it also teaches us that to submit our own will to His will is positive, not negative. His will is for us to have that loving relationship between children and parents but He is the One Who must bring it about especially in view of your Dad's own personal experiences. A healing in him must come first. So that is the first thing to pray for. Jesus Christ healed yesterday - He heals today and He will heal tomorrow. By putting this whole thing into His Hands for Him to perform His Will takes the responsibility out of your hands and gives you peace that is impossible for you to bring about yourself and gives you confidence in the process because now He will take over.....that's living faith. We are called to live by faith and not by sight therefore when you pray 'thy Will be done' allow no negative reasoning to take place in your thinking or in your waiting for a response. This can only be learned by experience. Now this is going to be your experience to see how God works this out on your behalf and on your fathers behalf. God Bless you.


Dear Dr. Ben Kim,

As I was reading through this beautiful article, it occurred to me what could really help your situation with your father (and with any other family member). It is a kind of therapy called Family Constellation, which originated among the Zulus in Africa, and has been becoming more popular in Germany, throughout Europe and also is North America. It is a truly fantastic thing to experience and you would need to find someone who conducts family constellation therapy in your area (or travel somewhere for a full-day seminar/workshop). Sadly, I don't have time to explain this therapy well now (after midnight here, and flying out tomorrow!) but it works with the subconscious of people - it works with their souls, you might say. In this therapy, people (usually strangers) represent various members of a family (ex:, you, your father, his parents, and so on) and these people somehow (miraculously) channel the energy (spirits?) of these family members, and then, with the help of the therapist, work through problems and resolve them. If you have never heard of FC before, this may sound pretty crazy, but I have been to many sessions and I can say with 100% confidence that it works.
I hope you find the time to look into it and can find a therapist who conducts FC sessions. Not only could FC help you and your father's relationship, but help your father to understand his parents and his relationship with them, work through his own issues, and start to evolve and find peace at the age of 69.

Whether it be with the help of FC or not, I hope you and your father's relationship can progress, and that he ultimately finds peace with (accepts) his grandsons' schooling.

Thanks, Dr Ben Kim, for sharing. I believe it helps many who encounter somewhat similar situations with their family in some way. Although we may be one family, we have different views and experiences hence our final choices would be different and hence could create stress on others. I understand how you and your dear wife and sister may feel too in this relationship with your beloved dad. God bless your attempt to reconcile with him.

Dear Dr. Kim,

I appreciate your honesty.

You say:

"I hope that I'm wrong, but I no longer believe you can. A person can't change into something that he can't feel. A person can't give something that he doesn't have. Just as you get orange juice when you squeeze an orange, when you squeeze my dad at this point in his life, you get mostly a cocktail of grievances."

You can only cultivate inner peace by feeling good about YOUR actions.
Be as generous and considerate as you can be, without any expectations about your father's behaviour in return, and without compromising the direction of your life.

BTW, your words of wisdom above Love flowing downstream (usually) have
given me, and many other parents of grown children much comfort.
You are a wise healer. May all the good wishes from your readers comfort you and strengthen you.

I found this very thoughtful of you and appreciative of where your father comes from. A lot of the problem is that we are in different generations and see life differently (as you more or less said). I believe your father is uncooperative in the fact that he wouldn't even listen to your reasons for homeschooling. Never the less, whether right or wrong, it doesn't help to prove that you are right. I'm 73 years old and my husband is 80. He has emphysema and arthritis. He used to build complete houses (no sub contractors - he literally did everything himself). Now he is unable and grumpy because I believe this is what made him feel useful and worthy. I suspect that your father feels that he has no worth now and I guess that if he walked your children to school that would give him worth, so I think the dream was to make him feel that there was a purpose for him, that his life was worthwhile. Selfish - yes, but it is a very natural need for humans. He needs to realize that God loves him, not for what he can do for God (we can never deserve anything, because everything we have is from Him anyway) but he needs to accept the gift, knowing that he doesn't deserve it. He can only have peace by accepting God's peace, and this is not easy for us humans. This goes for you too Dr. Kim, you can only pray about it and do what you believe is best and leave it to God. If you do this, then YOU accept God's peace - you are only human too, and leave the results to God. I know that it is not easy to accept something for nothing (peace), but that is what you have to do. I read an interesting story by Ctherine Moore called "A Father, A Daughter and A Dog". It isn't the solution to your problem, but at the very least, it would let you see that you are certainly not alone. I will try to send it to your email. May God Bless you and your family.

So many people can relate to this article. This reminded me of game theory.

People who feel in need will try to take more than their fair share (50%) in a transaction. Contrarily, people who feel in sufficiency will focus on justice for an unfair transaction.

As long as humans are progressing and making things better everyday, parents will have unmet needs that their children will have fulfilled. Parents will feel poorer than their children. And in my experience it is easier to forgive someone a debt owed to you when you feel wealthy.

So it is a balance between feeling wealthier and poorer in relation to your kids and parents.

Also I wholeheartedly agree with the poster who suggested inviting your father to become a teacher, in the Korean language or in any subject he knows about. It sounds to me like he would really like to move closer to his family. I wished my parents had taught me Korean. Thank you for sharing your story.

Hi Dr. Ben. I am unsure of your status with your father now. I too am not talking with my dad over the same reasons but different story. When you describe your dad, it's like hearing about mine. I'm deeply wounded and I took the same road as your sister but like you I'm realizing I can't live this way and it is affecting me. It's not easy considering how much love is in the midst of all this. I hate the fact that my folks are ignorant and closeminded and live in a small world. It kills me especially when I am doing so well and finding so much joy in life and they don't want any part of it because they don't understand.

Your letter to your dad tears at my heartstrings. The people that are closest to us are able to cause the most pain. Each of us are the way we are because of the way the world us. Our life experiences have moulded our fears, our dreams, our habits.

Is is possible that your dad's dream of walking the children to and from school could be slightly altered to walking them hand-in-hand to educational field trips, such as museums. He could then have the bonding experience he so badly craves and yet be involved in the children's learning process as well. Is the loss of his dream worth the loss of the relationship with these same children that are part of his heart?

I know first hand of the pain you are going through. My husband & I were cut-off from his parents for five years. Five years of missed celebrations such as our son's graduation and going off to college. They missed things that could never be re-lived, all because of pride. We finally made arrangements to meet at a restaurant and move forward to re-build a relationship. It was never the same relationship but better than none. The cause of the argument was never spoken of. They had even cut my husband out of their will. All this was over a silly incident that basically came down to accusations and admitting fault. Very sad. We only had about two years before his dad died and then his mom died 3 years later. Five years lost over stupid pride. Looking back though, I still don't know how we could have 'fixed' the problem without being beaten down ourselves. People can be so complicated, their own inability to admit when they are wrong becomes more important than the love and relationship with their own children. I cannot imagine anything that would keep me from my sons.

I wish you the best and will send prayer your way. You must follow your heart and not destroy yourself in the process.

What a heart-rending story. Keep up with your efforts to reconcile with your father. It sounds like you're one of the few people who heve delved deep enough to understand him.

It's very beautiful and loving the way you have endeavoured to understand your dad and see things from his point of view. This will help you forgive him his faults and forgive him the insults and hurts he has dealt you. Given time, and seeing the fruits of your decision to homeschool,with your continued love, although it may take time, your father may reluctantly come round. Remember, he just doesn't understand why you are making this decision, and when he's in the mood of not even trying to understand no amount of explaining will help. His is not a cognitive response right now, it's an emotional one. Your trying to understand him is the best you can do.
I have a quote on my toilet wall by Desmond Tutu; "Without forgiveness there is no future." That is so true.

And yet, at the same time, you must stay true to your decision of homeschooling your boys (which, by the way, I think is a great one... we have no regrets making that choice for our children, some of whom are now grown). It may seem at times like there are only two choices: stick to your decision and be cut off by your father, or give in to his demands to please him. But there is a middle road, (respectfully standing your ground while reaching out to him in love) although it is the road less travelled. And you are doing a great job of navigating it. Not easy, but better in the end. As my dad (with all his own emotional issues) used to say... "Nothing worthwhile is ever easy."

Matters of the heart
The head hasn't heard til the heart has listened

Emotional Freedom Technique EFT
This will release the pain
You can surrogate tap for your Father's pain as well

Please try Ben, for only 15 minutes and know energy shifts
that will rebalance you
Also for your Wife's benefit


Dr. Kim, this was a heart-wrenching letter. One that I can totally understand and feel deeply. I too come from a background where elders are to be respected above all else, and more specifically fathers are treated like kings in the home (1st generation Christian Nigerian-American). Throughout my childhood my father always acted as though we did things on purpose just to slight him. When he felt disrespected, he would explode and it would continually throw the whole family off balance for days, weeks, and months at a time. He told us from the time we were little that no matter how old we got, we would never be old enough that he couldn't physically discipline us.

Like your sister, my older brother found a way to detach emotionally pretty early on. Unfortunately for my own well-being, I assumed my role in the family as a kind of peace-maker. Even though my father was generally harsh and dismissive, I was like an open book and always tried to be as Christ-like, loving, and obedient as possible.

I came out to my parents 6 years ago. I'm 31 years old and have a partner (of 4 years) and daughter, and house, and dogs, and overall great life. I haven't talked to my dad in over a year (since the last time he blew up at me again for being gay). Despite his angry attacks and his refusal to accept me, I can't help but still love him. But everyone that he surrounds himself with (other Christians) tell him that I'm demon-possessed and being deceived by the devil and that he doesn't have to accept me. It's torn me apart because I know that we both wish our relationship was different. Before I met my partner, I found a way to stomach all the blows, insults, and general vitriol he threw my way. Now that I have a family, I just don't want to expose them to his lack of respect and insecurities. He cares a lot about how other people in the community view him. The last visit was the last straw for me.

It's amazing to me how so many people who have written responses to the original letter, use words and sentiments from the Bible to help calm the mind and ease the troubled heart about the familial rift you are experiencing. It certainly is no small thing to abandon or feel like you might have to cut people out of your life who mean so much to you, especially misguided parents. It floors me that so many of these same people would probably respond with vitriol and hostility if the disagreement between you and your father had to do with 'being gay' or 'coming out'. I know because I've been there. Some of the sweetest, warm-hearted people I have met have been at church, but many have also turned into the most attacking, cold-hearted, mean-spirited people I have met once they learned that I was gay.

I have a feeling that one day the church will have a 'Saul on the way to Damascus moment' and realize that everything they understood about gay people was wrong, kind of like when the church realized that when the Bible talked about the 'four corners of the earth' it didn't literally mean that the earth was flat.

Sorry this was so long.

I wish you peace and happiness, and ultimately a peaceful reconciliation with your father.

It's been a good eight or nine months since I shared this post, and I continue to visit from time to time to soak in the many comments that poured in.

Sincere thanks to each of you who took time to let me know that you connected to my pain and resolution.

I wish I could say that our conflict over homeschooling was a turning point for the better in my relationship with my father. Regrettably, it remains a most difficult journey. Some days, I chuckle with mild hysteria, wondering how father and son could be separated by such different life values. And then there are moments when I feel like I'm drifting the way of my older sister, becoming numb and apathetic to it all.

I suppose the meaning is in feeling it all, and it gives me comfort and hope to know that so many of you know this angst.

Really, thank you for all of the lovely and heart-wrenching thoughts.

- Ben Kim

....and such a gift to be invited into the mind and heart of another human being.

I have struggled with relating with my younger (by five years) brother. Tried everything. Calling. Writing. Not calling. Not writing.

What finally worked (and is it the relationship of my dreams? No, but it allows me to be loving rather than frustrated and angry and always feeling defensive) was to explore how I've been hurtful to him over the course of our relationship. With my own personality characteristics -- varying brands of self-centeredness -- and expectations for him to be different than he (because "I know better how he should be").

As soon as I said I'd been looking over my life and wanted to apologize for ways I believed I'd been hurtful to him, I could feel him soften. He listened. And took my openness as an opportunity to share with me how other of my ways had also made it hard for him (other than specifics I was owning up to).

Things have been very different since. No hanging up phones. No raised voices.

We're very different. I believe he has appreciated my differences more than I have honored him by appreciating his. I wasn't the older sister I would have liked to be.

Finally, the love I've always known we had for each other is in the foreground. Not the anger and frustration. And when they do flare again, I remember my tendencies to be self-righteous and this self-awareness saves the day.

I wouldn't have been able to do this without the "technology" of the Twelve Steps (of Alcoholics Anonymous) and the particular program I'm in (Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, that doesn't only, one day at a time, separate me from my obsession with food but also from my obsession with being right.

Dr. Ben Kim,

If you ask me, my solution is very simple:Your responsibility is to your children as your parent's responsibility is to their children. Believe me when I say so because when you and your sister came into this world, your parents did not ask for your and sister's permission to be born.

I am much older than your Dad (I am now 76 1/2 years old). I have never interfered in our children's decisions in anything and everything that they wanted to do, unless I am asked.

So, now, what should you do to reconcile with your Dad? If I were you, I would do something similar to what our daughter-in-law did when her parents and brothers and sisters disowned her. For about 3 years, none of her relatives would talk to her. She was totally ostracized. This was very difficult for her emotionally because my son and my daughter-in-law lived in the same neighborhood.

Here's what she did to win back her parent's love, respect, and attention: when she came home from the hospital after giving birth to her first-born, her first stop was her parent's home. She asked them to hold their first grandchild.

Enjoy life always!!!

Bonny Damocles

I just wanted to add my two cents here Dr Kim.I feel your pain and your fathers pain as well, so I wanted to tell you what I think might help. Have you ever thought about inviting your father to help home school the boys? Maybe to teach them about his home country or take them on field trips? He could also take them to church with grandmother. Or do a science project together with them. I feel that this would include him in their life as he stated he wanted to do. Please don't shut him out and invite him in your and the boys life. Maybe grandmother can do a cooking class for them to learn how to make kimchi or another family favorite. All this can be done at their house once a week or more. It would make them more rounded as young men to be with the grandparents and to learn from them. And grandparents have a lot to say and to teach so don't let this wealth of information go to waste.And also all the love they have for the boys will make them better people.
I have 3 grandsons whom I love dearly and would be very sad if I couldn't be with them.So I do understand his feeling and yours as well.
God Bless your family.

-Angela P

I would ask you a question: Are you seeking a relationship with your father based on what is truly possible, or are you seeking the fulfillment of a 'dream' relationship? I believe your answer to this may set you free.
I had to answer this for myself with my mother who has dementia and is not now (and may never have been) the mother I remember growing up.
As I ask myself this question about relationships, I find much pressure gone in trying to 'reconcile' or make relationships fit a certain mold, but rather enjoying what is possible.

I enjoy reading your journey.
It was probably at least 5 years ago I first came across your website, have been off for some years, and then last year re-encountered (if I'm correct).

Life is full of mysteries - we may not always find answers to what we want to know.
Please take care of yourselves the most. You are not doing anything wrong to your father.
Rather, you are already doing all you could to be respectful and loving to your father, in such ways that's already beyond human capacity with your forgiveness, trying to understand his view point, reaching out etc.
Give yourself a good pat Dr.Kim.

Your fellow Asian immigrant/descendant to the US.

Dear Dr Kim,

It seems that we all share a certain vulnerability when it comes to our parents. What they say, think and do means a lot to us. We have spent our childhood looking to them for validation and guidance.

There does however, come a time when the break in the symbiosis between parent and child must take place to allow the us to mature, grow and learn to make our own decisions. In healthy parent-child relationships, the break in symbiosis comes much earlier. In other parent-child relationships it happens much later or never at all.

You can love and value your parents while standing your ground and honoring your wishes to raise your children as you see fit. I do believe however, that homeschooling is not the true issue here. There are far greater issues and patterns at work here.

I have faced much difficulty in my relationship with my parents. Only when I broke the symbiosis did my relationship with them change for the better.

Rather than expect them to change, I changed simply by breaking the symbiosis. I changed my expectations of them. I changed how I related to them. I set up boundaries that showed respect for me and in doing so, respect for them. It was a profound and at times, very difficult change. It did not happen over night but rather over years.

I can honestly say now, at 40 years of age I have a relationship with my parents that I can enjoy. I show respect to them but first and foremost to me. I am proud of myself and I am proud of living an authentic life.

Good luck to you. You are not alone in this challenge.

I, too have had a falling out with an older family member. I don't know what I did, because she won't tell me, but she thus far, she has made good on her promise to cut me off. She hasn't spoken to me in over 25 years, except for when we were attending family member funerals and was cordial as that was expected from others.

I have held out the olive branch only to have it snapped off each time. I finally just stopped holding out the branch. Either she will want to reconcile or she won't. My part in all of it was to decide how much i was going to let it control or affect my life and relationships with others whom i love and who love me.

She has chosen pride and bitterness to be her companions. I can point to situations why she thinks this is the way to go, and it made me realize that I am cut from similar cloth. If I do not want to end up like her, I need to choose differently. While I wish her the best, I have had to relinquish the relationship. I vascillated between heartbreak and apathy for quite some time. It wasn't pleasant, but I can't make her do what I think best, anymore than she can me.

I am finally at peace about this, but went through a lot of tears to get here. There is no bitterness left in me about it, only a sadness that the rapport is not otherwise AND an acceptance that I cannot change it. I know I have done everything I can to try and reconcile. She has chosen to ignore or mock every attempt.

I do hope your father comes to realize that love indeed is greater and far better than bitterness or pride, although he may not.

dear Dr Kim.. sorry about this situation with your father... my only comment and concern is about your boys... what do they want, home school or regular school?.... if they want regular school may I suggest a Christian private school from the Seventh Day Adventists...their gradeschools, highschools and universities are the same or better than public education.... they have music and drama and broadcasting as well as Loma Linda University... most students excell there... all the best, blessings your sister in Him

What a touching and thoughtful exegesis of the kinds of problems that arise between generations! I'm close to your father's age (70) and, guess what -- I was disappointed too when you announced your decision for home schooling. My reasons are quite different, of course -- I see home schooling as an erosion of the public school systems that are so important for creating a society of well-informed adults who can work together despite their diversities. And you, who seemed in all other matters to share my hopes for society, had made a choice that, well, disappointed me. And I had a dream destruction several days ago from something I had planned to do for one of my grandkids, working with the parents I thought, something I really wanted to do that they just forgot about and scheduled over it. So I know how your dad felt. But I have to say that neither disappointment has destroyed my love and desire to continue my relationship with my children and with you. You have my best wishes for building a new place for your dad to dream in!

Thank you for sharing this touching story. I have so enjoyed your blogs and newsletters and I can totally relate to some of the pain and frustration you must feel. Your story reminds me of times when we have tried to reconcile with my mother who is now in her seventies and also from Korea.

I have not yet had a situation exactly as long going as yours but my sister has. They still talk on the phone occasionally but my sister is the one that has to initiate each phone call and the conversations are extremely short and responses are terse.

We both pray for her and have learned that when they are at the age they are(sixties, seventies and up) it would only be a miracle if we saw a change in her personality. When people grow up in a time without much affection and in such incredibly hard times, they quickly learn how to shut off their emotions to survive and learn how to be manipulative with their love to get their way.

It's terrible but I've learned that I can never change my mother but I can guilt and shame her right back, to a much lesser degree, while focusing on her advancing age and the strong need to have someone take care of her as she gets older. When she gives me grief or talks irrationally then I do the same right back. You do need to put you "acting" hat on to pull this off just right.

If they grew up with extreme rejection or fear and they dole it out then I give them extreme prejudice and fear right back to them. For example, if one of my parents say "you stole my dream." I would say, "It's not safe for you, a seventy year old woman/man to walk your grandson home from school anymore in this day and time. How could you possibly protect him from a drive by shooting or drunk driver? You will get hurt, what if you have a stroke walking with him home one day. You are not young anymore. Who is going to be there to take you to the hospital. Are you not thinking about your health and age now??? How can you walk fast enough for him to get to archery lessons?" All children who are successful in school ( and I would list all the doctor and lawyer's kids I knew)have after school activities and lessons. That was a dream of the past but can't be done for high achieving students these days. So and so grandparents just work on a special skills such as Korean calligraphy or songs so that their children can put that on their college applications." If they say, that's crazy they are still young and healthy, keep talking crazy and say you had a bad dream and you love them too much to let them get hurt by a drive by shooting.

If she told me I was walking my kids into a burning building which is trying to make you feel like a bad parent, then make her feel like a bad grandparent for not knowing what is best. I would say, "Most of the children now that get into ivy league schools are born extremely gifted or are home schooled or go to the most expensive private schools nowadays." We can't afford the tuition on the best private school and the next best thing that the best schools are looking at is homeschooling. Haven't you read the Times, Newsweek, Los Angeles News? Yes, it was in an article. You can read it. If you don't go to the best private school or make a perfect score on your SAT it is too much pressure and children are committing suicide over this. Do you want your grandson to have so much pressure they want to commit suicide??? Home schooling gives him a leg up on getting into school and doesn't give him as much pressure to make a perfect score on his SATs. Oh, oh, you are showing your age. Oh, you are getting so old! Don't worry, I will still take care of you as you get older and older. Who is going to take care of you when you can't feed yourself anymore or cook for you as you get older? Oh, so sad, I will still take care of you, I will feed you don't worry. I won't ever send you to a nursing home."

They may have never heard, "I love you" growing up. I don't think it really means much to them. Saying you will always take care of you even if they don't love you anymore, I won't let you starve, or go cold or sick or send you to a nursing home might mean more love to them than the actual three words.

I know this sounds mean but I think it gives them a way of admitting they were wrong or knowing even if you don't do what they want you to do they are still loved.

I wish you the best. There is no quick cure for difficult relationships and what works for me will definitely not work for everyone. And if your father is really clever he will turn your words against you in the next conversation. That's when I just stop and say, "Don't get mad, I don't want you to get sick. And then I give them a basket of fruit or something else healthy the next day because they don't know that getting really angry can be very bad at their age. Just bear with him the best you can and know you are being seasoned with patience and kindness and that you are not alone.....and that you are a much more honest person than I am when dealing with their parents.

Dear Dr. Kim:

As an eighty-three year old grandmother, I was moved to tears by your article. Older people (of any nationality) can be very selfish in their wants and expectations - especially of their own children. I pray that you and your family will eventually have a satisfying relationship with your Father.

Dr. Kim,

It is always good to vent your feelings to gain strength to make good choices. Most people have these types of issues in their families in some way, Korean, American, German (fill in blank with any nationality) just is what it is, we are all imprinted by our upbringing, many many people cannot overcome that upbringing. I have the same issues with my ex husband who has treated his children so badly and still expects them to apologize to him (and his new wife) and they have done nothing wrong. I have tried many times over the last 7 years to help him reconcile with his kids but he can not stop blaming them for his misery and she can't either. I realized at some point no one can help him change until he is interested in doing the work himself, until he WANTS to. So, we are done and we will move through life the best we can, it makes me sad for my children to have lost their father not to death but to himself. So I printed out the poem "On Children" by Kahlil Gibran. When I get mired in an issue of any kind when raising them, I go to it and read it. It has by far been the best teaching tool for me raising them by myself (now they are almost 18 and grown), it keeps me calm and looking forward. I hope things get better for you.

On Children
Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

You and your family are so STRONG. It must have been difficult for you to talk with your father when he is so rooted to what he believes. You standing up to him is very inspirational for me. My husband and I have a similar story to yours (only with his mother) and it is something that is difficult to accept. However I believe that hard times are actually blessings in disguise, and so far the blessing in disguise for me is the following: I am becoming a more spiritual person, I am learning and practicing more peace in my life, I'm becoming more aware of the strong bond between my husband and I, I am attracting more positive and open minded people in my life, the bond with my children is a true representation of LOVE! There are many more i'm sure! I will send you and your family happy kind thoughts as you continue your life journey.
Occasionally I like to find a happy medium in some situations. If pleasing your father is important to you, there is a private school called the waldorf school that has the most wonderful/natural approach to education that i've ever come across. Here is a video that is a wonderful summary. If this doesn't resonate with you then discard it. Again, I send my best wishes. Blessings to all of you:)

Thank you for being brave enough to share this personal story. I know from personal experience that it was not until I started sharing my grief about the loss of relationship with my sister that I began to learn how to step away from the stress and continual health problems caused by the storage of the emotions I carried. Even now, hoping that one day I will have a sister again, I know that the outcome is very likely the one I dread further communication. We look at life differently and apparently there is no middle ground on which to meet, despite outside intervention. So I try now to choose to love my life without her, but to also be there should she ever come knocking.

I encourage all people, but especially those women who see their role as one of being responsible for nurturing relationships, to be responsible to themselves first and to others secondarily, even, sometimes, their children. Without our own health, we cannot nurture others.

Hello Dr. Kim,

My sister home-schooled her five children when they were young. This was efficient: no transportation time, no fancy dressing for school, no packing school lunch, no distractions from bad kids, or waiting for the teacher.

Her home school was like a one-room multi-grade rural school of early America. Instruction was disciplined and structured, with a curriculum and scheduled class time. Instruction was cooperative--the children helped each other with learning.

The kids took the standard exams given/required by the State of New Jersey. On one occasion, a daughter got 98% and another daughter got 100%. The two older daughters are now in college studying engineering. The other three are teenagers in public school. All five kids are healthy, well-socialized, intelligent people.

My sister found home schooling resources on-line and from the State of New Jersey. She partnered with other home-school parents to lead field trips and special events for the home-school kids. Her children were also active in church youth events, which provided additional socialization. In fact, I think her kids got a better education than most New Jersey kids in public school.

Perhaps your parents have an excess of opinion and a lack of information/experience regarding home-schooling.

Over time, your parents will see that your kids are doing fine in home-school, and get over their objections. I hope this will not take years.

Best of luck,

This was inspiring and comforting. I just had an argument with my only sister a couple months ago and it wasn't the first time I had cut her off completely after the argument. The reason is because I began to see a pattern of me getting too close to her and getting hurt. I felt she has been taking advantage of me and not considering my feelings. At the same time I also felt guilty of cutting her off. Some of my closest friends couldn't understand, but they were very supportive at least. The hardest thing for me was that my dad kept trying to convince me to forgive my sister, but at the same time, he didn't even try to listen to my side of the story. Thank God for my husband because he was the most supportive and understanding because sometimes when alone, I would think I was the problem in this relationship. Now all I can do is to move on with my life because I am still healing from a severe eczema that lasted for more than a year.

Thank you for sharing you experiences.

I was so moved reading your post regarding your father. I think homeschooling is a great idea and personally I feel it is better to be able to monitor and choose a child's friends and acquaintances rather than leave them to chance in the hope that they choose wisely. Peers have such an influence on children and sometimes a bad one. If I had children at home currently,knowing what I know, and how dangerous public schools can be, I would homeschool too.
My hubby's children have abandoned him even when he was so ill with cancer, neither of them called or wrote to him. Hubby is a colon cancer survivor and actually thriving. We still don't know why they abandoned him but he has come to terms with it. Each Father's Day thst comes and goes without a word from them is painful although he does not admit it. He was a good dad and never spanked although his dad often beat him, not spanked. At 19, hubby finally had enough and joined the army where he remained for 21 years. Hubby's son joined the army but wants little to do with his own children. We don't understand any of it and they refuse to communicate. At least you are communicating with your dad so there is hope. I hope you and your dad reconcile to each others satisfaction. If not, God sees your efforts. 7 x 70.

It's amazing how sometimes you feel that you are the only one that goes through this kind of situation. While I don't have kids myself yet, reading your post really reminded me of my own father. In similar ways, being second of six kids isn't a whole lot different than being seventh of eight. He often reminisces about how he was top in his class and how all the other kids looked to him to plan big camping trips. When he made rice for dinner on a trip, other kids would exclaim how his cooking was better than their parents'. Many of your revelations about your father apply to mine, as well. "What he craves most is respect, and when he feels disrespected by his children, he loses his temper." It's so true. Respect and Attention are two big areas for my father that he probably doesn't get as much of as he would like.

Thank you for sharing your story about the difficulties you have in relating to your family. It helps me understand mine a bit better. Please post more of these in the future. Relationships are just as important to maintaining our physical health as food.

I'm a Family Nurse Practitioner who believes in Integrative medicine and natural healing remedies. I believe the heart and mind work together. I love the way you see your role in pointing out the toxic nature of relationships as a source of stress! I work with college students who are under alot of stress, I always remind them to consider if they have healthy friendships, roommate situations and healthy relationships as these issues frequently are the under pinning of poor health (as well as good health). I whole-heartedly agree with your philosophy in this regard and hope you continue your practice. Of course, counseling and psychotherapy has it's place, but why can't all Providers partner up and do their part to help our patients get insight into their physical and mental health! Thanks for your newsletters! My 35 year old daughter who is a Holistic Health Coach with the IIN model, has taught me alot about disease prevention and healthy lifestyle choices and introduced me to your newsletters! Kathy Blattner