It’s Father’s Day. What do you feel?
I have worked with hundreds of men, listened to many stories of a man’s relationship with his dad, and then, of his own relationship with his son.
Some stories are heart warming, encouraging. Many others, sadly, are stories of distance, bitterness, frustration, and loneliness,
What is your story? What do you feel on Father’s Day?
Like it or not, the relationship you had with your dad shapes how you create the relationship with your son. Let me share my story.
My real dad died when I was three. My mom remarried when I was 5 years old. This new man in my life was angry, hostile, and harsh. He created an atmosphere of fear in the home.
It is an odd thing that as a boy, exposed to that kind of energy, I still desired to be close to him. I wanted a dad, someone I could trust and depend on. A man who showed me life’s ropes, and would be proud of me as I learned and met its challenges.
I spent my entire childhood wishing for that, working for it, yet never got it.
This brings me to Father’s Day and the dreaded search for a Father’s Day card when I was a kid. Can any of you relate? (I honestly hope you can’t relate because that may indicate you had a positive father son experience.)
I remember spending hours reading every card trying to find one that could express warmth and appreciation for a man whom I called dad, yet who was antithetical to anything I understood about what being a father meant.
Honestly, it was a bit of a mind fuck for a pre-teen boy to endure.
When I finally did select the “right” card, and I gave it to my dad, I remember feeling relief that I survived such an awkward expectation…a son acknowledging and loving his dad on Father’s Day…with a man that I was terrified of.
The truth was that on most day’s I imagined how much better my life would be without him around.
Overall, what I learned growing up with my dad, was what not to do when I had my own kids. In hindsight, it is a deficient model to use, but it was all I had at the time.
So coming full circle, I am a dad. I am blessed to have been able to raise two terrific sons; and despite my failings, they have grown into capable, awesome men.
Father’s Day is weird for me. There is part of my brain that wonders if my sons feel like I did on Father’s Day with my dad. By all appearances they don’t, and I’m grateful for that.
Remember what I said earlier, that your relationship with your dad shapes the relationship with your sons?
I was not immune to this. On the positive side of shaping things, I planned on being all those things my dad wasn’t…caring, encouraging, supportive. I think I did this.
Unfortunately I picked up some of his negative attributes. My dad was a rager and I picked that up. There are a couple of cringe worthy memories I have where I unleashed on my sons, and I wonder what wound I created?
Fortunately my sons and I can talk to each other. I can admit how I messed up, express my regret, and provide words and actions that I only want the best for them.
And I think this is what’s key in the father son relationship…making your peace with whatever the relationship was, and taking ownership of who you want to be in the relationship going forward.
We can’t make anyone else be for us what we want in a relationship.
We can, however, make our own selves be what we want for the relationship…with our dads, and with our sons.
This Father’s Day I encourage you to do just that. Show up as you want to be…as the father…as the son…as a man who impacts the world with his thoughts, actions, and deeds.
When I do this I am empowered to create a future that feels right, and I can feel good, not only on Father’s Day, but every day.
Author: Todd Gorishek
Todd is a certified Men’s Life Coach, an entrepreneur, a licensed healthcare professional, a husband, a father, and a world traveler. His mission is to co-create a strong and compassionate world by facilitating transformation through understanding, trust, and empowerment.
He received his professional Life Coaching education from Newfield Network, a certified Life Coach training school, and is a member of the International Coach Federation.