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.
Providing good schools, participating in community and sports activities, having a computer, offering music lessons these are some of the ways we help to nurture our kids as they grow and develop. Every father wants his child to grow up to be an honest and caring person. But how does that happen?
If we reflect on our own parent’s marriage, what was it like? Did they treat each other with dignity and respect? Were they considerate and understanding with each other? How did they handle the inevitable anger and frustration that comes not just with parenting, but with life? Did they seem to enjoy being married? Why did they have children?
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, 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.