Title: How Moms Can Shape Our Perception: The Truth That Changed Everything!
Sometimes, what our moms tell us about our dads isn’t always true. It can make us hate our dads for reasons that are not accurate. I believed lies about my dad for more than 15 years without realizing it. I blamed him, held grudges against him, and carried hurt for things that never really happened. But fortunately, I finally forgave him and found healing.
Let me share my childhood with you. My mom was always busy working, either in the market or on our family farm, even on Sundays. She hardly took breaks except when she was sick. On the other hand, my dad wasn’t around much. He worked as a carpenter, mostly doing roofing jobs. He would come home every 2-3 months and bring us treats like biscuits. Sometimes, he would buy us clothes and shoes for Christmas.
My dad had experienced pain caused by his own siblings, but he chose to forgive them and maintain a good relationship with his nephews. My mom didn’t agree with this forgiveness. However, my dad would often remind us about the things we learned in Sunday school during our personal conversations and morning devotions. This made me appreciate him more on this matter.
My mom took care of our financial needs because she had enough money. If we disagreed with her too much, she would tell us to go to our dad for our needs. But we knew that he wasn’t always around and couldn’t help us as much as mom did.
Now, let’s talk about the lies. Whenever my dad wasn’t around, my mom would sit us down and tell us stories about the early days of their marriage. She said that my dad left her after their third baby because she was sick with something called fibroids. She told us that she carried these fibroids for a long time and they made her very sick, almost to the point of dying. She prayed for help, and a pastor from a church heard about her and took her to the hospital for surgery. The surgery went well, but unfortunately, the baby didn’t survive.
After the surgery, my dad came back and asked for forgiveness. At first, my mom didn’t want to go back to him because he had left her. But an older lady convinced her to give him another chance, so she did. My mom repeated this story so many times that I could recite it word for word, even if I just woke up from sleep.
Along with this story, my mom would say that my dad was weak and forgave too easily. She told us that he had too many enemies, and she made it seem like he didn’t care about us. She also said that nobody liked us, and she put my dad in the same category as those relatives who didn’t like us. She even told us about times when my brothers were very sick, but my dad didn’t do anything to help them. My mom wanted us to hate and despise our dad.
Because of all this, I started feeling bitter towards my dad for how he treated my mom in the past. I understood that he couldn’t earn as much money as my mom, but my mom’s words made me think that he didn’t love me. I believed that I would be better off without him.
School was tough too. Teachers often didn’t show up, and there were fights between classes where people got seriously hurt. Despite the challenges, I consistently ranked first in my class from Junior Secondary School 1 to 3, even though my scores weren’t always high. I wanted to leave that school and go to a better one in Ediene Abak, but my dad discouraged it. He didn’t want to go into debt or have any problems. He believed in living within our means. On the other hand, my mom was willing to do anything, including going into debt, to make us happy and ensure we had the best education.
All of these things made me believe even more that my dad didn’t love me, and that only my mom cared for me and wanted the best for me.
Back in December 2014, my dad lost his only brother. He returned home to mourn his passing. While he was there, he received news that his house in Port Harcourt had caught fire due to a neighbouring house. The next day, he hurried back to see if he could salvage any of his belongings. Unfortunately, everything, including his working tools, had either burned or been stolen. He didn’t even bring back a hammer. So he returned to the village empty-handed.
Even in this difficult situation, my dad tried to find work in the village to support us. However, while doing one of these jobs, he fell from a roof and broke his hip. This accident marked the end of his working life. From that point on, my dad went from contributing a little to the household income to bringing nothing. We became completely dependent on what my mom could provide.
One might think that this would have been an opportunity for me to spend more time with my father, getting to know and appreciate him better. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, I despised being around him. I couldn’t see how his presence at home pushed us to support our mom more. I felt that he had returned to make my life more miserable and take away the little peace and joy I had before he came back.
At times, when he was angry, he would say hurtful things to me, which only fueled my hatred towards him. It felt like he was rubbing salt into an already existing wound. I remember one particular day when I wasted time and delayed leaving for the morning market. I was supposed to go and sell by 7:30 am, but I wasted time until 8:30 am. My dad shouted at me throughout, but I was stubborn. I barely moved because I already despised him as a father in my mind. I did things at my own pace. In his anger, he said something that deeply wounded me that morning. He said, “Don’t worry, you will grow up, have a baby out of wedlock, tie her with a wrapper behind you, and struggle to climb trucks to Igbo land to buy palm fruit for a living.” This hurt me deeply because it was a common situation in the village. Young girls would get pregnant before even finishing Junior Secondary School and then drop out to start that particular business to earn money.
In my mind, I believed that my father didn’t love me and didn’t even see me as his daughter. That’s why he wished such terrible things upon me. I tearfully reported it to my mom, and she angrily warned him never to say such things to her children again. She told him that he didn’t understand the challenges she faced in raising us. This made me hate him even more. I started seeing him as a hypocrite in church, especially when he was given the responsibility of a deacon. Somehow, I wished I didn’t have a dad so that I could receive sympathy for not having a father. I felt that his presence hindered people from favoring us because they thought he provided for us.
After I joined God’s Lighthouse, during the first Friday gathering in 2021, Pastor Ita spoke at length about our relationship with our family members. He emphasized the importance of forgiving our dads if we had grown to hate and feel bitter towards them. He explained that forgiveness would bring healing. I was willing, so I began to ask God to forgive my dad. A great healing process started in my heart, and slowly, I started to have a better relationship with him.
Years passed, and our relationship continued to improve and grow closer. This is something I have consistently thanked God for, even openly, at different times
I started seeing good in my dad, contrary to what my mom had always told us. Even though he wasn’t providing much financially, I realized he was still important in my life. Church lessons about the role of a father helped change my perspective. I regretted praying for his death in the past because he no longer seemed like an evil person to me. I asked God for forgiveness for those prayers and thanked Him for not answering them.
Whenever I saw my dad, I felt sorry for him. He looked like someone who had been wrongly accused and humiliated. I started obeying Pastor Ita’s teachings about buying things for our parents, even as a student with limited resources. My mom would refuse to accept edible gifts, saying I should eat them to gain weight. She only accepted non-edible gifts. But my dad would gratefully accept anything I gave him. I saw that my dad’s intentions for me were pure and not driven by hate, as long as I kept communicating with him.
In church meetings, Pastor talked about how we often mistakenly believe lies we may be told by our mothers because they spend more time with us and talk to us. He also emphasized the importance of listening to our fathers. This made me realize that everything might not be as my mom had portrayed it.
On a particular Friday evening in March 2023, my Pastor (Pastor Ita Udoh) mentioned this again. It struck me deeply, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I felt there was something I needed to hear from my dad about the early days of their marriage.
The next morning, I woke up with a strong conviction that my mom had lied to us. I wasn’t angry or offended; I just wanted to know the truth. I travelled back home from school and eagerly waited for an opportunity to talk to my parents.The truth my father told me was shocking. My maternal grandmother had taken my mom to a herbalist, accusing my dad of trying to kill her. They gave my mom various herbal medicines to drink while she was still breastfeeding, which ultimately caused the death of the baby. It became clear how harmful these unknown herbs and concoctions can be to a baby when breastfeeding.
They falsely accused my dad of being responsible for the child’s death and dumped the baby in our compound, raising an alarm in the neighborhood. I can’t imagine the embarrassment and pain he went through.
Despite all this, my dad kept trying to help my mom, but she refused to accept his assistance. Instead, she believed her family and their superstitious beliefs, suspecting my dad of causing her illness. It was a strange and demonic situation. My dad shared all these details with me, and it became evident that he had been falsely accused.
After the baby’s death, my dad’s family advised him to marry another woman and forget about my mom, but he refused. Even when his mother brought a girl for him to marry, he showed no interest because he had already made it clear that he wouldn’t marry anyone else.
In the end, an outsider, a church overseer, helped take my mom to the hospital, and that’s when the surgery was performed, leading to her recovery. Till this day, my mom remains loyal to that church. Ironically, my dad had offered to take her to the hospital, but she rejected his help because she saw him as a suspect.
Dad eventually succeeded in bringing her back home, although it was a struggle. This alone proved to me that he didn’t go to marry another wife; otherwise, he wouldn’t have fought so hard to bring her back.
This truth changed everything for me.
Now I understand that when my dad did not agree that I be sent to a better secondary school, it wasn’t because he hated me but because he lacked the funds. The stories he shared about me having a child out of wedlock were his way of motivating me to work hard and be responsible, so I wouldn’t end up like other young girls in our village. When he asked me to prioritize farm work over my books, it was his way of pushing me to work hard and contribute to our family’s well-being.
His forgiving nature isn’t a sign of weakness; it has brought him peace. If I had lost him while wishing for his death, I would have regretted it once I discovered the truth. I would have blamed myself for hating an innocent person and struggled to forgive my mom. I’m grateful for Pastor Ita, who doesn’t always blame men for marriage problems. Women can also be at fault, including those who accuse men.
I thank God for this truth and for my dad, who raised us in the ways of God. I’m thankful my dad is alive to share these things with me, and I know there are more truths to come. I welcome them, but I’m truly grateful for this one.
Praise be to God!
— Sis F.O.
9th June 2023
© God’s Lighthouse 2023