If you’re like most new or expectant dads, you’re probably carrying around some silent assumptions about what it means to be a father. Those ideas are rooted in your experiences with your own father and in what you believe society expects of a male parent. Unfortunately, few resources exist to help men address these issues or put common myths to the test. Yet the more you examine and understand your unspoken expectations of fatherhood, the better chance you have of becoming the parent you want to be.
by Bruce Linton
The HUGE life change of becoming a father is the greatest challenge we face as men. Nothing can make us feel so overwhelmed and yet also so satisfied as being a dad. Having “peak experiences” like hiking in the Himalayas, traveling penniless through Europe, living on a Greek island, attending the Monterey Pop Festival, meeting Frank Zappa, studying with Chogam Trungpa Rinpoche, all were enlightening. But now in my late 60’s I can see that being a father was more profound and I learned more about myself than any of these wonderful adventures taught me.
by Bruce Linton
When I became a lay Buddhist monk 37 years ago I never imagined becoming a father or that I my children would teach me the life truths I had been trying to understand through meditation and dharma study.
There is a story about a Zen monk who wants to become an archer. He seeks out the finest Zen archery teacher in all of Japan. He asks to become his student and how long his training will last. The teacher says, “It will take your whole life.” The monk says “What if I really apply myself very diligently?” The teacher says, “Then it will take you only 30 years.” But says the monk, “What if I double my efforts, how long would it take me then?” The teacher says, “Then it will take you 70 years.” But says the monk “How could it take me 70 years if I am redoubling my efforts!” The teacher says “Because you are so impatient, it will take you longer.”
by Bruce Linton, Founder of the Fathers’ Forum
What was silent in the father speaks in the son, and often I found in the son the unveiled secret of the father. Friedrich Nietzsche
When men become fathers, they are confronted with a profound challenge to understand what “father” means to them. Most men are perplexed by this. In both my personal and professional lives, I have searched to understand why becoming a father is such an uncertain experience for today’s men.
In the fathers’ groups I have led, most men look to their own fathers as examples of how to be parents. Reflecting on their own fathers’ behavior often leaves them feeling sad, lonely, frustrated, angry and ambivalent. In our group, together, we struggle to understand and make peace with our fathers. Many of the men in my groups feel very limited by having a father who was either physically or emotionally absent from their lives. We try to understand how we can be more available and more emotionally connected with our families. Some of the men who had abusive fathers become fearful and wonder if they might hurt their own children. If we must rely on our own personal fathers as teachers or mentors on parenting, we may feel limited. To understand himself as a man, each of us must come to an understanding of his own father and his father’s influence on his life, both positive and negative.