Over the last century, America’s undergone tremendous changes including what employment opportunities are available to us today, where and how we live, and how families relate and function’both internally and with others.
How have these changes affected us as men? Well, one important way is that it’s systematically distanced sons from their fathers. In fact, it’s become clear to experts that a primary source of the seething undercurrent of anger pervading much of the male population results from the diminishing influence of the father in a man’s life. Recent studies have shown less than 1 percent of males have or have had a close relationship with their fathers. Many men cannot remember their dads touching them affectionately, or telling them, ‘I love you.’
Men are often not very emotional, but if you want to see a man get that way in a hurry, ask him about his dad. A large number of adult males today have grown up virtually without their fathers, and they’re profoundly hurt and angry because of it.
Why? What’s happened to create this problem? The problem, of course, cannot be reduced to one factor alone. Yet neither is it a total mystery. The last century has seen the American male’s role change, and the role of fatherhood has suffered for it. Over the next several days I’ll be explaining how this happened and what it’s caused. I hope you’ll tune in.
Experience has shown us that the men who are happiest and most content in their masculine role today are those whose fathers invested time and energy in their lives. These dads may have worked outside the home, as the vast majority of fathers in our society today do. 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. Their fathers have left these men a legacy of pain, confusion, frustration, anxiety, bitterness, fear, and anger. These adult sons are often the angry men of our society.
Friend, which description best fits your situation? Are you reaping the benefits of a committed, invested father, or struggling to overcome a sonship that has left you a wounded and angry man? If it’s the latter, won’t you take steps to get some help?
Don’t stay stuck there.
Only a hundred years ago, the majority of American boys worked with their fathers from a very young age. They’d spend hours each day together, and in the process, be trained and ushered into manhood by him. Dad would teach his boys about weather, agriculture, and commerce as they worked the land together. He’d use farm animals to teach them about life, growth, and death’including the details of sex, reproduction, birth and infant care. And because dad usually worked at or very near home, his sons would get ample opportunity to learn from him how to be a husband and father. Dad would be the boys’ primary mentor, guide, counselor, and friend. And when they grew into young men, he’d accept them as partners in the family business.
Now fast-forward a century. Most fathers leave home early each morning and don’t return until six or seven at night. If young boys spend any significant time with a parent at all, it’s usually with mom, not dad. Apart from school, most of what today’s young boys learn about life, work, and people comes from her instruction and example or from the schools and his peers. As a result, boys are substantially deprived of fatherly instruction, guidance, counsel, and friendship. They’ll soon grow to be men, but their limited interaction with dad provides them little understanding of what it actually means to be a man.
Therefore, I encourage you to counter this trend by doing everything in your power to actively father your son!