Tag Archives: “What Makes a Good Father?”

Tribute to a Step-Father

Probably not a lot of step-fathers get honored for being great fathers, but some do and my son-in-law deserves it. I’m so glad he has taken on the task of fathering his three step-sons seriously.

And they respond.

Some of his notable acts have been taking the middle one to the hospital when he broke his arm clean off, and staying with him there all night long to make sure he was ok.

Another is selling his own ATV to put the money into the pickup truck and fix it up for the oldest so it is ready in two years when he can drive. The plan is to work on it together and teach Wade what he knows.

Even more important, was the help and guidance he has given the oldest (14) when he has gotten into trouble with friends. One of them posted a nude picture on Wade’s Instagram account as a prank and his step-dad helped him take it off and let his girl-friend know that he wouldn’t do that, and then track down who had done it. There have been even more serious infractions when his calm, steady, non-shaming guidance have been most helpful and invaluable.

He takes them with him to do service projects at the church and wherever they can help him, teaching them work skills. He doesn’t miss any of their parent-teacher conferences, ball-games, or band concerts. He is there for them–the strong steady modeling young boys becoming men desperately need.

He is definitely an asset; added value in their lives, and I am grateful. Of course I wish he would smile at them more and hug them more to cement his example into their hearts and  lives. He thinks they get enough of that from their other three parents, but I know it would feed their bond with him and feed their needy hearts. No boys get too much of that from dads!

No one is perfect, but he comes pretty close.

Happy Father’s Day, Jeremy!

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What Makes a Good Father?

Did you have a good father?

I would love to know what percentage of you can answer yes, and feel it. What made him good? I know already he wasn’t perfect, there isn’t such a thing, but I wonder why there aren’t more who were (are) good enough. What do we need in a father?

It’s a good question for Father’s Day. We need fathers: their strength, their guidance and directions, their understanding and gentleness. But so often they are either a detriment or just absent. Being a woman and a mother, I don’t really understand that. Having a father who worked very hard, I do appreciate the responsibility and loyalty of men for their families, but why is it so hard for them to relate to their children?

I know they have the same love mothers have. I’ve watched and talked to my friends. Are men afraid of attachment? Are they raised to avoid deep relationships? Is it because they stop talking to parents at puberty? Is it that the separation from mom is so traumatic and the separation from dad often violent that they have a feeling of being alone? They seem to be more isolated inside than women are. Are they more afraid of their emotions? Afraid to own them, to have them? I’ve only experienced it vicariously through my clients.

I recently worked with a man who believed love was weakness. His dad was absent, his mother too. But why would a man who had a good relationship with at least one parent think that? There seems to be something inherent in a man that says you have to be strong. You must be independent.

Separating from parents is important, but it is tough if you don’t have a relationship with them. Cutting off doesn’t get it. You end up feeling isolated. So men usually identify with their work–what they do becomes who they are. But is that really the same? It would explain why they focus on work. And if they haven’t had a safe-feeling relationship, they will shy away from emotions.

Falling in love is the next emotional connection, and if it goes badly, which most first-love experiences do, because of immaturity, lack of identity, and rushing into them, it will fail him. Perhaps making him lock up softness and affection even tighter. A man’s emotions are more fragile and yet more powerful than a woman’s, but much more rare.

If a man doesn’t mature them in the second and third decades by being slow and purposeful with relationships and choices, emotions do not mature from disuse or misuse, and they can be scary and feel out-of-control. Drinking, drugs and porn seem easier than growing up emotionally. I worked with a man, a very successful pastor of many years, a master teacher, but who was so emotionally shut down he didn’t have any idea what he felt. And life had gotten hard. He had never learned this, and addiction got him.

This I can relate to because I shut down  emotions early. I can remember making choices to do it at 8 and 9. According to my mother my emotions were defective, and my father was pretty much absent. I didn’t start actually looking at them and understanding them until I was in my late 20’s and went to therapy for the first time. That was a short, very helpful stint. I began to unpack them. Later, I faced them again–eight-year-old emotions that came up in a 34 yr-old relationship. I took them to God, asked what was going on, and He told me I had saved them for a safe man. But they needed to be lived with every day and matured.

It’s important to grow up emotionally. God is a balanced, loving, ever-present father who will never abandon you. He is a safe person with which to unpack your emotions and practice them. He made you with them. And whether you missed the critical second and third decades of growing them well, you can start today. Journaling, writing your feelings to God every day, is a great way to start–whether male or female, whether you are 12 or 72.

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