Downside Of The Revolution

Stephen Arterburn

Why has the American father largely disappeared from his sons’ lives? One answer lies in the Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the transition from an agricultural to an industrial society.

A century ago, the majority of fathers and sons lived and worked together on the family farm. Those who didn’t farm often owned and ran family businesses or labored at trades that their sons learned from them through years of observation, instruction, and hands-on experience. Boys spent most of their time with their fathers, who where their primary mentors.

But as the industrialization of our nation expanded, more men were needed to build and repair the machines, sell and deliver the products, count the profits, and pay the bills.

Increasing numbers of ambitious men moved to the city to take these jobs. Instead of spending the day tutoring their sons in the skills of life and work, these men left home every morning to pursue their careers’and their sons stayed home. The more time a man directed to his work away from home, the less time he had to mentor his sons. The downside of this revolution was that young boys were cut loose from the means that once so efficiently ushered them into confident and prepared manhood.

I know it’s much harder now, but you need to make time for your sons. If you feel ill equipped, I encourage you to take advantage of the resources available to you.

The Irresponsible Father

Stephen Arterburn

Many men today grew up in homes where the father was completely absent because of divorce. Many of these men judged their roles as husbands and fathers to be expendable in the pursuit of their careers and lifestyles. At some point their sons had to deal with the shocking reality that Daddy didn’t want to live with them anymore.

When fathers abandon their families, they plant seeds of discord in their sons that may unconsciously come to the surface when their sons marry. Boys usually perceive their fathers as the epitome of masculinity’even if the father has little time or concern for his sons. For this reason, sons often grow up to repeat their father’s behavior, thereby perpetuating the current crisis between fathers and sons.

In other families, fathers remained in the home physically but abandoned their sons emotionally. These men worked day and night, and played hard all weekend. Not only was the father-son relationship void of nurture, it left a negative impact on the boy, who was treated as an inconvenience or an interruption in his father’s life. Just at the time the boy needed a man to help him practice being a man, his father was off somewhere struggling with his own manhood.

Yet, God calls all men to be men. If your earthly dad was irresponsible, I encourage you to look to your heavenly Father. Read, pursue counseling, and seek friendships with good, Christian men. Irresponsible dads raise angry sons. Let’s not continue this pattern.

The Other Side of ‘The Father Wound’

Joe Dallas

Much has been said, in recovery circles, about the ‘Father Wound’ ‘ that is, the effect a poor relationship with Dad can have on a man’s future. On the one hand, I can say without hesitation it’s all true. If there is one single element I’ve found in common among the men I’ve counseled, it’s the proverbial ‘Father Wound.’ And yet, now that I’m facing the challenges inherent in fathering a son, I’m painfully aware of the other side of the story.

It was so easy, sixteen years ago when I married my wife and inherited a stepson, to talk about what fathers should or shouldn’t be. I was new to the game, the proud step-father of a lovably energetic five year old boy. Huge mistakes, mostly mine, hadn’t yet been made. His adolescence was years off, so our days were playful and I was his hero, snatching him up after school for bowling, football games and junk food. No wonder it was so easy for me to look critically at older fathers. I was determined never to become one.

Since then, the boy I loved has become the man who’s forgiven me. We jumped into the power struggles and mutual rage every father/son relationship is doomed to, and I careened from rigid strictness to cold fury to indifference, depending on which battle we were fighting. We weathered some tough years, re-bonded, and today I couldn’t be prouder of him, or of us, when I see the outcome.

Dad is that enormous figure
assigned to us
who will probably, for better or worse,
affect us more profoundly
than anyone else in life!

But happy ending or not, I know there are things I said and did to him that were damaging, and can’t be undone. To some degree, they’ll affect him and the way he sees life and people. So like all sons, he could write his own book, delivering a rather mixed report card to the old man. I know, too, that what I didn’t say or do, and should have said or done, can’t be compensated for. In short, I understand more than ever how difficulties between fathers and sons come about.

And more than ever, while I stress the need to examine our wounds and deal with whatever anger we may have towards Dad, I also see and stress the need for a forgiving heart.

There’s a time for anger, and I’ll wager you’ve been reluctant to recognize, much less legitimize, yours. I remember too well the first time I admitted to myself how enraged I was with my own father, and how blasphemous and childish I felt. But it was a crucial beginning. Dad is that enormous figure assigned to us who will probably, for better or worse, affect us more profoundly than anyone else in life. So your relationship with him may well play into what you’re dealing with now, including your anger. ‘Be angry, and sin not’, Paul advised. (Ephesians 4:26) It’s allowed. If you were wronged, you were hurt; if you were hurt, your anger is justified. So let it come.


Then, in due time, let it go. Because as surely as you need to express and resolve your anger, there’ll be someone else, someday, who’ll need to do the same with his anger towards you. And you, like all of us, are subject to the laws of sowing and reaping.

Be sure to sow forgiveness while you can. You will, unquestionably, be grateful it’s there to reap when you need it.

For help with forgiveness and anger please join us at our next New Life Weekend.