A Fading Role

There is a stark contrast between family life a hundred years ago and today’s modern family. Boys of yesteryear had significant daily interaction with their dads, but today’s dad is mostly absent for one reason or the other. Somehow the American father has all but disappeared from his family. Yet one thing remains constant: boys still long for intimacy and input from their fathers. The lyrics in that great country song by Rodney Atkins so succinctly makes my point:

“I’ve been watching you dad, ain’t that cool?
I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you.
And eat all my food and grow as tall as you are.
We got cowboy boots and camo pants
Yeah, we’re just alike, hey, ain’t we dad?
I want to do everything you do.
So I’ve been watching you.”

Boys beg their fathers to teach them how to do ‘men’ things, like play baseball, be in the outdoors, or fix things. But with their dads missing from their lives, many boys grow up with those yearnings and needs largely unfulfilled. The result of this absent dad has left behind a generation that is riddled with stories of masculine anger.

Many men today have approached manhood feeling unprepared and ill equipped. They come into manhood knowing very little about how a man works, plays, relates to other men, and loves women. Men today are trying to act and function as men in this world, just as their fathers seem to have done. But at the same time, they struggle because their dads never showed them how.

Experience has shown us that the men who are happiest and most content in their masculine role are those whose fathers invested time and energy into their lives. These dads may have worked outside the home, as the vast majority of fathers in our society do today. But their priorities were in the right place. They were committed in principle, and found concrete ways to maintain a positive, nurturing relationship with their sons. These fathers helped their sons discern and nurture their individual talents, and supported them in their chosen careers. They identified their sons’ strengths and weaknesses and addressed them accordingly. They attempted to understand their sons’ unique ambitions, and appreciated their achievements. In short, these fathers helped their sons become men. And as a result of their investments, their sons are among the most well-adjusted and peaceful husbands and fathers in our society.

However, men with these kinds of dads are in the minority today. Most men are struggling to recover from relationships with fathers who failed to nurture, affirm, and validate them at the most fundamental level. These men have had fathers who have abdicated their role and have left behind a legacy of pain, confusion, frustration, anxiety, bitterness, fear, and anger. These adult sons are often the angry men of our society.

If you are reading this today and are a dad, my question for you is which description best fits your situation? Are you reaping the benefits of a committed, invested father, or are you struggling to overcome a sonship that has left you a wounded and angry man? If it’s the latter, don’t remain stuck there—won’t you take steps to get some help? Call us today at 800-NEW-LIFE (639-5433) and let us help you on your journey to restoration.



  1. avinson says:

    It is time to rebuild and restore. Men, we need you for our sons.
    Happy Father’s Day.

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