Maybe you cannot relate to fathers who have trouble showing physical affection to their sons. Possibly your issue – the reason for distance between you and your son – is more emotional. We will now turn our attention to this very important matter.
Fathers who unintentionally sow the bad soil of rejection into the hearts of their sons ultimately risk losing their sons. Fathers who withhold physical affection from their sons risk losing their sons. But it’s not all about physical affection. There’s more.
Our sons need us to be physically present and emotionally present in their lives. They need our physical and emotional presence in order to grow into healthy adult men and women with strong personal identities capable of forming strong relationships with others. Whatever image of male we present to our sons will significantly impact their perception of God: we want our sons to have a healthy image of God.
Our sons need us to be present in their lives – physically and emotionally – to learn how to process and express their emotions in healthy ways. Men who don’t talk raise boys who grow up to be men unable to express their emotions in healthy ways. Men who do not share at an emotional level typically have fragile marriages and end up damaging their children. This male tendency, even for those of us who know the negative consequences, can be hard to overcome for many men. Outside help is often needed and that is one of the primary purposes of our relational orientation counseling.
For men who struggle to open up emotionally, you can learn to experience greater openness in a comfortable, natural way. Doing so will not only help your relationship with your son: it will also improve your relationship with your wife and your other children. Men who allow God to transform them to greater emotional health are often surprised at the positive growth that occurs within their families.
Fathers and husbands who have been appointed by God as spiritual directors of their families impact the relational orientation of their families by the way they express their leadership. If fathers are withdrawn, weak models of male and female are developed and thus children grow up with weak personal identity. Fathers who work hard to learn how to be more emotionally present to their sons will see their example multiply throughout the family: their family’s relational orientation will be reoriented to greater health.
There are fathers who cannot fathom such a change. After all, they were raised by their own fathers who instilled in them the island-isolation approach of manhood. How can they possibly change after all these years? The surprising irony is that men who cannot fathom change in their own heart are often the ones most demanding ‘change’ in their sons: specifically, sons who self-identify as gay.
Dad, I promise you this: you can change. For the sake of your family and according to the promises of the Gospel, you can be renewed to a new place where you can inject new life into your family. Yes, it will take hard work. But you know what? The work can be fun. The way I structure the work is for Dad and son to work together in healing their relationship. While I do expect significant work from fathers, it ultimately takes two to heal a wounded relationship. Fathers are often deeply impacted by the work, while learning to more deeply love their sons and encourage their sons.
Physical presence without emotional connection leaves our sons grasping for something more. If we don’t fill them up with ‘something more’, the world will offer them many artificial substitutes to fill the emotional deficits in their heart and mind. Is it a stretch to say that raising a healthy son hinges upon a father’s commitment to become more emotionally healthy? I don’t think so.
So, are you a father who needs help? Where do you go from here? My suggestion is this: relational orientation counseling; you and your son working together to gain greater personal health while healing your wounded relationship. Help is available. The only question is this: do you want to get well?
Talk to me, Dad.
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This series deals with fathers and sons. Relational orientation counseling can be a blessing to any parent of any child – boy, girl, homosexual or heterosexual. If your family is in need of such counseling, contact me toll-free at (877) 683-6867 or email me. I am happy to serve your family. God bless.