During a recent "Oprah's Lifeclass" taping in Dallas, Bishop T.D. Jakes and Oprah met a father and son in the audience who hadn't spoken in more than two years. Howard Jr. says he feels hurt by his father, Howard Sr., who wasn't there for him as a child.
In the above clip from the episode, Bishop Jakes says it's not a lack of love that stops an estranged father from reconnecting with his child -- it's often the fear of rejection. To reconnect, Bishop Jakes says, every father needs to "court" his child and discover their world.
"The language is different. The interest is different. What's cool is different. What's hip is different, and there's that generational issue," Bishop Jakes says.
"Do you feel intimidated by that?" Bishop Jakes asks Howard Sr.
"Yes," Howard Sr. admits.
The first step, Bishop Jakes says, is to understand one another. "Just because you're biologically able to produce a kid doesn't mean that you have a Master's Degree in fatherhood," he says. "It does not come with a manual. You all don't come with instructions. And what worked in our generation is now totally antiquated."
Hearing this, Oprah has an "aha" moment. Earlier in the show, Howard Jr. said he felt awkward around his father's side of the family, while Howard Sr. said he feared rejection from his son.
"I just had an aha," Oprah says. Looking at Howard Jr., she says, "You feel awkward when you're around his family. He feels awkward when he's around you. It's the same thing," Oprah says.
"Exactly," Bishop Jakes agrees. "We're going through the same thing."
The important thing to remember, Bishop Jakes says, is that it's not too late for this father and son. "You can do it," he says. "You can do it."
"And you know why you can do it?" Bishop Jakes asks. "You're not dead. Don't let the grave close the casket on the opportunity you have to discover each other."