On Fathering

Previous generations of theorists would often complain about the mother’s role, but
the effects of physically and emotionally absent fathering pervade our culture.  
This is from the work of John Bradshaw and Guy Corneau [see bibliography page]
and is about the importance of fatherhood in the lives of children of both genders,
and the transmission of male emotional and physical abandonment from one
generation to another.  The industrial revolution took fathers off the farm, out of
the home, away from their children, and placed them in factories and offices.  Once
fathers would work the family farm with their sons, and now sons rarely see their
fathers.  Fathers arrive home after working one or two jobs, and often have little
energy for their children, preferring to relax with a beer, the newspaper and
television.  Both girls and boys, generally, get much more exposure to the mother.  
Girls have a more available role model to imitate, identify with, and rebel against.  
Mother teaches her daughter the ways of women, and often has more time and
investment to do so.  The process is conveyed through the
emotional bond that
the child feels.  A boy often has less of a model for gender identification.  A father
is often not present, or father can be present but too often indifferent, overly busy.  
Bradshaw says,
“What you love is what you give time to…”,  A child can sense
that he/she isn’t ‘’worth’’ giving time to as an unworded conclusion about the
father's apparent emotional absence.    The girl child will have mother to identify
with, but the boy's role model is too often indifferent or absent by work, divorce,
stress, exhaustion, addictions, or other interests.  No matter how loving mother is,
she cannot teach her sons how to be men.  She doesn’t have the right equipment.  
The essential bond with fathering is how a boy is attracted away from the
attachment to, and domination by, mother into the world of men.  It happens in
stages, from a 5 yr old carrying daddy’s hammer, to an older boy doing projects
with dad.  Still older boys having exclusive plans with his father.  There’s the
mouthy adolescent corrected by dad, the teenager taught to drive, and the young
man who makes dad proud with his college grades.  Throughout, the father ideally
wants to have a relationship with his son, has an investment in teaching his son,
making the son feel worthy of his father’s time.  
Without a father figure to teach and attract the son, the boy can be engulfed by
mother, feel responsible for yet resentful of for mother’s unmet emotional needs,
and remain in the guilty tug of war with mom, hating her for his bondage yet
needing her constant attention and guarantee of her love.  He might choose a
spouse eventually, but he will bond with her like ‘’mother’’, transferring the same
maternal expectations onto the next woman, acting like a boy and expecting to be
mothered.  The expected roles of ''the man of the house'' as leader, protector,
provider, teacher, etc. are compromised since the wife is more like a parent to her
husband.  Many wives roll their eyes and refer to their husband and two children as
her "three children".  
Without an involved father, it is furthermore difficult for mother to demonstrate the
standard for the future men in her daughter’s life.  It is the father who teaches his
daughter that she is lovable to men, that she is worth his protection, time and
concern.  When he is absent, a daughter senses that she is not worth caring
about.  The standard is now set for her likely poor future choices in men, who
would also not be expected to care about her.  "After all, if your own father can't be
bothered....."
If the father takes an interest in what is important to his son, he makes his son's
activity important by his attention. The son will learn to take an interest in his own
activities, feeling worth and value. "If it matters to Dad, it matters to me.  If it doesn't
matter to Dad, it doesn't matter to me."   In the younger years of a future husband
and father, the emotional and/or physical absence of one’s own father is like the
absence of an important vitamin from the diet. There may be plenty of food, but an
important nutrient is missing.  It's hard to identify.  There's no feeling of wholeness
or completeness.  There's an unnamed but severe emptiness there.  Emotionally, it
is hard to measure ‘’nothing’’, sensed only by an absence.  The absence may show
up as a naive like quality, acting in life but with a lack of information, support,
and/or an inner sense of self or ‘’manliness’’.    John Bradshaw, in his lecture on
toxic shame, asks,
“How can you love yourself as a man if you’ve never been
loved by a man, and how can you love a woman as a man if you don’t love
yourself as a man?”.   
There are the day to day interactions and "visiting" that might happen with a
father in the home.  A father's work week influence is conveyed by his
participation in the routine from evening to morning, how his disposition
expresses itself becomes part of the fabric of the world each child takes in.  
What happens when there's no father there?  
Imagine the ten most crucial times in life when, above all else, a child needs the
father to
show up, to be the hero, to save the day, by being physically  present
original trauma is often less of the unresolved problem than the perceived
failures of the life mentors
obliged to protect us and to help us pick up the
pieces afterwards.  
With a 57% divorce rate, there is an abundance of children growing up without a
father in the home, and an even greater number whose fathers are emotionally,
as well as physically, uninvolved....jmh
"...In the United States and Norway, several studies involving
boys with behavioral problems arrived at the conclusions
that...
male children absolutely need their fathers in the first
two years of their existence..."
....A son who is familiar with the physical presence of his father
is thus initially able to love his mother, and later in life, is able
to desire women rather than fearing them or despising
them....."
Guy Corneau,
Absent Fathers Lost Sons
The pitched battles that often
take place between teenage
boys and their mothers are
because the sons are
trying
in every possible way to
escape from maternal
domination
, trying to wrest
their bodies away from their
mothers, and trying to prove
themselves as men.  The
fathers usually feel powerless
to do anything but watch
these hostilities from the
sidelines, unaware that they
themselves are largely
responsible for those
hostilities.  These situations
often indicate that the sons
are repressing their gentler
emotions and imitating the
worst macho types our
society has produced...like
Rambo and his cohorts...just
to prove they are ''man
enough''.
Guy Corneau,
Absent
Fathers, Lost Sons
My father and me at my cousin's wedding in
1966.  He was 57, my age last year.  I was
15 then, his age when his father killed
himself.  This is about the closest we ever  
were.  Six years later, he was dead.
My father long before I was born
Left; My father
with his hand on
brother's
shoulder.  When
Dad was 12, his
older brother
died at 15 of
Three years
later, my father's
father  killed
himself.  Dad
was immediately
sent off to
boarding school
by his mother.  
".....Ironically, men are...expected to have a capacity for intimacy with their
partners and their children.  How in the world can a person who has cut
himself off from his body and heart--and be admired for this by
society--aspire to intimacy with anybody?"  
Guy Corneau,
Absent Fathers, Lost Sons
Lacking a Father is like Lacking a Backbone
".....An individual's psychological identity is
based on his sense of his own spine that
provides him with support from the inside.  The
father's absence results in the child's lack of
internal structure; this is the very essence of the
negative father complex.  An individual with a
negative father complex does not feel himself
structured from within.  His ideas are confused;
he has trouble setting himself goals, making
choices, deciding what is good for him, and
identifying his own needs.  
For him, everything gets mixed up; love and
reason, sexual appetites and the simple need
for affection.   He sometimes has problems
concentrating, and he is distracted by all sorts of
insignificant details, and in severe cases, he has
difficulty organizing his perceptions.  Basically,
he never feels sure about anything.  
"The more fragile a man feels internally, the more likely he
is to try building an outer shell to hide this fragility.   The
shell make take the form of bulging muscles or a bulging
belly.....................
By means of these outward compensations, lost sons
miss their deep desire to be touched, their need to love
and be loved.  It is hard for them to face up to these
feelings because the facing-up makes them feel
vulnerable.
The signature of a missing father is the fragile
masculine identity of his sons."
Guy Corneau, Absent Fathers, Lost Sons
".......the sense of limits and discipline imposed
by the father will only be effective in the context    
of a loving relationship.  In other contexts, this  
prevents empty imitating his father."   
Guy Corneau
".....Masculine Energy
I believe that a forceful,
penetrating, active energy is
one of the foundations of
masculine energy; a man
who is out of touch with his
impulses or unable to control
them, never feels himself to
be a man....he must sense
the particular kind of energy
that makes him essentially
different from women.  
Corneau, page 120
A father's emotional presence brings his
sons to their inner strength, strength that
is rooted in primitive energy and natural
aggression.   The father's presence
provides the son access to this
aggression.  When the father is absent,
the son cannot tap into his sex's inherent
impulses.  The son is subject to his
mother's restrictions; she is likely to be
less tolerant of his instinctive, aggressive
behavior than his father might have
been..."
Corneau, page 115
".....The steep rise in domestic
violence since the 1960s directly
parallels the decline in fatherhood in
America.  When fathers are in
families, they are more likely to
struggle for power and control over
their wives and girlfriends.  They
compensate for failure to protect
with dominance.  My experience
with thousands of court-ordered
domestic violence offenders tells me
that when fathers are more involved
in the lives of their children, they are
unlikely to hurt
any woman..."

Stephen Stosny, PhD. How to
Improve Your Marriage Without
Talking About It
       DADDY REPORT CARD
                                                        
1.  TAKING CARE OF ME;        

A. TALKING WITH MOM ABOUT WHAT I NEED TO GROW;
B. GIVING MONEY FOR CLOTHES, FOOD AND HOME;
C. BEING AN IMPORTANT PART OF MY DAILY ROUTINE;
D. MAKING THE NECESSARY, TOUGH, UNPOPULAR
DECISIONS;
E. MAKING SURE THAT I’M SAFE;
F. NOT DRINKING TOO MUCH ALCOHOL OR ABUSING
DRUGS;

2. TEACHING ME ABOUT THE WORLD;

A. TEACHING ME ABOUT MEAN PEOPLE;
B. TEACHING ME ABOUT MAKING FRIENDS;
C. TEACHING ME ABOUT MONEY;
D. TEACHING ME HOW TO STICK UP FOR MYSELF;
E. TEACHING ME HOW TO CONTROL MY TEMPER;
F. TEACHING ME ABOUT TELLING THE TRUTH;

3. BEING SOMEONE I CAN LOOK UP TO;

A. MAKING THE BEST OF FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS;
B. HELPING ME FEEL BETTER WHEN MY WORLD FALLS
APART;
C. TEACHING ME TO HAVE  FAITH IN MYSELF;
D. SHOWING ME THE RIGHT WAY TO ACT;
E. CORRECTING MY MISTAKES IN A KIND AND GENTLE
WAY;
F. GIVING ME A GOOD EXAMPLE TO LIVE UP TO
Resources;
David DeAngelo,
On Being a Man, Video series, David DeAngelo.com
Bryan Bayer and Travis Decker,
Authentic Man Program,
Guy Corneau, Absent Fatehrs, Lost Sons
Samuel Osherson, Finding Our Fathers
Jonathan Diamond, Fatherless Sons
Susan Forward, Men Who Hate Women, The Women Who Love Them
Bryn C. Collins, Emotional Unavailability
Marvin Allen, Angry Men, Passive Men
  "A young man's heart is wounded when he has no one to take him into the adventures his soul craves, no one
to show him how to shoot a free throw or jump his bike or rock climb or use a power tool.   This is how most young
men experience fatherlessness.  There is no man around who cares and who is strong enough to lead him into
anything.   His father might be physically present, but unavailable in every way, hiding behind a newspaper or
spending hours at a computer while the young man sits and waits hours for the man who never comes.   Much of
the anger we see in young men comes from this experience, because he is ready and fired up but has no outlet,
no place to go.   So it comes out in anger.   A young man's heart is wounded when he repeatedly fails.   Of
course, failure is part of learning and every cowboy gets thrown from his horse, so to speak.   But there needs to
be someone at his side to
interpret the failures and setbacks, to urge him to get back on the horse."  from;
The Way of the Wild at Heart  workbook, by McConnell and Eldredge