Thursday, May 28, 2009

Awareness

When I first chose to move forward with The Father Project, largely my motivation stemmed from personal experience and for the benefit of myself and my son Drew. I wanted to learn and grow in order to become a better father. After researching and reading multiple articles, websites, and books pertaining to fatherhood, I am finding myself profoundly moved by the massive impact fatherhood has on our young boys. Our president has called issues relating to fatherhood the single most significant issue we face as a culture today. No longer is this just a personal endeavor.

I've found it easy to fall back into the comfort zone of my own community. Thinking, is this really a problem? These families seem happy and involved. Fathers are there...Right? Largely, the answer is no. Even if fathers are waking up everyday, heading out to work, and coming home each night, this does not mean fathers are available. Emotionally or otherwise. To make money, not argue, and to come home sober at a reasonable hour is not to be a great dad. That is not being the father our young boys need. When honest, ALL men know of the scares left from their youth as they relate to their own fathers. These scares are like war wounds we never want to see and never want to think or talk about. Perhaps like a war vet, we think no one else can possibly relate. Recently, I wrote a six page letter to my father expressing all the anger and hurt I had experienced over many years. This anger and frustration had impacted my life in numerous ways. I never mailed the letter, but I did feel so much better simply acknowledging it and putting it down in writing. The sheer pain I personally experienced just going through the process of writing this letter, serves as an indicator of the depth and impact my emotional secret has had.

Being aware of the link between fathers and sons is only the beginning. Father's MUST engage, now, in the emotional life and development of their young boys. It's never too late. Broken fences can be mended. Furthermore, mother's and wives must be involved in this process. They play a key role in helping men feel comfortable enough to "get in there". I would encourage openly discussing opportunities and ways both parents can actively engage in the healthy emotional development of their child/children. The strongest and best relationships are not "perfect" from the get go. They are created through shared experiences and not giving up. We fathers must engage in creating the relatedness it takes in order to have the emotional connection our boys so desperately need. If we aim to teach our boys to have courage and to be tough; we must willing to walk the walk ourselves by having the courage to step into not only our own emotions, but also the emotional heart of our boys. To not engage is to land a devastating blow to the life of your own child. And, secretly, you know this. Get in the game.

5 comments:

Ann J said...

As a wife and mother of one son and two stepsons, I wholeheartedly agree with and understand the impact of what you are saying here. Also, as a mother, I believe it is up to us to encourage our husbands to nurture their relationships with our sons. For some, perhaps most, men don't even know how to nurture because they sorely lack it in their own lives. Please keep up your incredible work! Our future, our sons future and the future of our country (our children are our future leaders!) depends on it. God bless you!

Oceans said...

Thank you!

Erin Joy said...

Great post, Andy. As you know, I'm a newly expectant mother and I'm not married to the father of my child. I am pleased beyond belief that he's choosing to be in our child's life and that HE so values his opportunity to be a father. I can't impose this upon him and even though I would have been "fine" if he made another choice, it isn't about me...it's about how our child would be impacted by his choice. Fortunately, she will have a wonderful father who is actively engaged in her life. Thank you for creating the space to keep ME present to the difference you daddys make.

Ann J said...

Erin Joy, I am extremely happy for your expecting bundle of joy! I am even more happy for you that the father has agreed to play a role in this precious child's life. Another man could have stepped in, but down the road, it would not have been the same as having "daddy" around. Andrew is offering some truly sound, wise advice here and I hope many, many, many people begin to follow it.
As a daughter whose father deserted her at birth, I can tell you the wounds run deep. So, it's more than a father/son thing as Andrew is saying; it's a father/child thing. We all need our daddy's from birth to old age!

Tessa said...

Andy-
Your blog is great! Keep up the good work and you are a great writer. As a side note, I just thought I would mention the importance of a father and daughter relationship. My dad helped shape my personality and independence completely. I have the utmost respect for my dad. It sounds harsh, but I will never forget the day, (I was probably 15 or 16) and my dad took me outside and handed me a car tire and said put it on. I must say it has come in handy! Also, I have become quite handy when it comes to home repair due to my dad. All in all, you don't know what may happen in your life, but I know I can take care of myself and I owe most of that to my dad. To sum it up, your father and parents shape who you are and what you value... With Father's Day coming up, Have a good day with your son Drew.

T