Navigate / search

Who Was Your Father…Who Are You?

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.

Read more

From Man to Dad

No man can possibly know what life means, what the world means, until he has a child and loves it. And then the whole universe changes and nothing will ever again seem exactly as it seemed before. —L. Hearn

The most profound and complicated event in a man’s life is becoming a father. It is also the least understood and, until recently, the least researched topic in the study of adult development. No life transition—not getting married, changing jobs, moving, or completing educational goals—will have as long-lasting an effect on a man’s sense of purpose as becoming a parent.

When I first became a father 34 years ago, I thought I was prepared for fatherhood. I had completed my training as a Family Therapist and was well educated in the stages of the family life-cycle. But I was not prepared for the deep and powerful reorganization of my identity that I would experience.

Read more