Fathers As Order Keepers: Guiding Boys To Responsible Adulthood

The acronym “POPS” stands for protector, order keeper, provider, and stabilizer. In last week’s Fathering Strong blog post, we shared some thoughts about being a protector. The main takeaway was that mature, responsible males are indispensable in making homes, neighborhoods, and schools safe places for children.

In this article, let’s turn to the second of four attributes of POPS: Order Keeper.

Keeping Order

As order keepers, our manly influence calms the unruly tendencies of younger males. The old saying, “Boys will be boys,” is used to excuse disorderly behavior and implies that it is just a natural part of being male and shouldn’t be taken seriously. The problem is that the unruly tendencies will likely worsen without an adult male present and engaged in correcting bad behavior.

Every boy needs a mature, responsible, and nurturing father or father figure to emulate.

The famous educator Geoffrey Canada said, “Boys want to grow up to be like their male role models. And boys who grow up in homes with absent fathers search the hardest to figure out what it means to be male.” Having no male role model or having one who is not a good role model tends to normalize boys’ bad behavior.  Perhaps you have heard a true story about elephants that illustrates a very important fact about human males.

The Story of the Rhino Killers

It was reported in February 2000 that aggressive young orphaned elephants are reported to have killed 36 rhinos, including rare black ones, in a game park in eastern South Africa. According to conservationists, the young elephants have been provoking confrontation with the rhinos since they were introduced at the game park. 

The elephants were orphaned when their parents were culled in the early 1990’s in an effort to control the elephant population in Kruger National Park. As the elephants matured, so they have become more aggressive. Attacks on rhinos have been growing over the past two years, with 13 killed, including two black rhino, in the last five months of 1999, South African newspapers report.

A park ranger said he had witnessed an elephant knocking a rhino over, trampling it and driving a tusk through its chest. Conservation vet Dave Cooper said, “There was a spate of killings, and it was if they were purposeful. The rhinos were ripped to pieces.” He said that elephants and rhino routinely clash in nature, “but this sort of behavior, when elephants actively go out and chase rhino, if totally abnormal.”

Fellow conservationist Tony Conway said similarly aggressive behavior had also been seen in Pilanesberg National Park in Northwest Province – another home for Kruger Park orphaned elephants. However, the killings at Pilanesberg stopped when six adult elephant bulls were introduced to the park. The young ones’ behavior patterns returned to normal under their influence.

Why would the young elephants kill rhinos? Well, like human juvenile delinquents, they had grown up without role models.

“I think everyone needs a role model, and these elephants that left the herd had no role model and no idea of what appropriate elephant behavior was,” stated Gus Van Dyk, Pilanesberg Park’s field ecologist.[i] 

Just as those young male elephants needed adult males to show them how to be elephants, boys need mature adult father figures to show them what it means to be men.

Order Keeping Starts at Home

The Creator’s original family plan was for every child to have both a mother and a father who would provide 24/7 guidance and nurturance as they grew up. Although much has changed societally, some studies suggest that, on average, children in married-parent households have advantages over children in other family structures. A primary benefit is family stability and the consistent presence of two loving parents to maintain order and structure.

Whatever the family makeup, research shows that some factors are important for a child’s well-being. These include:

  • Stable and nurturing relationships with caregivers: Children thrive with strong, positive bonds with the adults who raise them. This can be with biological parents, adoptive parents, same-sex parents, or other caregivers.
  • Economic security: Financial stress can affect children’s well-being. Having enough resources to meet basic needs is important for healthy development.
  • Positive parenting practices: Children do best with parents who are responsive to their needs, provide clear and consistent expectations, and use positive reinforcement.

We will have more on this subtopic in the upcoming episode: Fathers as Stabilizers.

The original family design provided for constant parental teaching. For example, when instructing parents to teach their children the commandments of God, they were told: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”[ii] That’s pretty much most of the time!

Interestingly, this passage’s Hebrew word for “teach” means “goad.”  Cattlemen used a goad (a sharp stick) to gently poke the cattle to get them to go in the direction they wanted them to go. The prodding didn’t hurt or damage the cows but provided constant guidance.  The goading’s point (pun intended) was to keep things orderly.  

Likewise, teaching children requires constant presence and consistent gentle correction, accompanied by modeling appropriate behavior.

Modeling Healthy Conflict Resolution

 Good discipline includes the ability to handle conflict nonviolently. As order keepers, dads can show their children how to do this through their peacemaking practice. 

Fathers and father figures can play a powerful role in teaching boys (and children of all genders) how to navigate conflict in a healthy way. Here are some strategies they can use:

Active Listening and Empathy:

  • Model good listening skills: Pay attention to the other person, make eye contact, and avoid interrupting.
  • Validate feelings: Acknowledge the other person’s emotions, even if you disagree.
  • Ask clarifying questions: Make sure you understand the other person’s perspective before responding.

Communication Skills:

  • Use “I” statements: Focus on your own feelings and needs instead of blaming the other person.
  • Be clear and assertive: Communicate your needs clearly and confidently, but without being aggressive.
  • Focus on the problem, not the person: Keep the conversation focused on the issue at hand, not personal attacks.

Problem-Solving and Compromise:

  • Brainstorm solutions together: Work with the other person to find a solution that works for everyone involved.
  • Be willing to compromise: Conflict resolution is rarely a win-lose situation. Be open to finding a middle ground.
  • Focus on win-win solutions: Aim for solutions that address everyone’s needs and concerns.

Modeling Emotional Regulation:

  • Stay calm and collected: Avoid yelling, name-calling, or other aggressive behavior.
  • Take time to cool down: If emotions are running high, take a break to calm down before continuing the conversation.
  • Use healthy coping mechanisms: Model healthy ways to deal with anger, frustration, and other difficult emotions.

Additionally:

  • Show that it’s okay to disagree: Disagreements are normal, but it’s important to handle them respectfully.
  • Apologize when necessary: Be willing to take responsibility for your mistakes.
  • Focus on the positive outcome: Celebrate reaching a solution and rebuilding the relationship.

By following these tips, father figures can set a positive example and teach valuable skills to help children navigate conflict.

Instruction from the Holy Scriptures

Train up a child in the way he should go,
[a]And when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6 NKJV

About the Author

Eli Williams is a father, grandfather, and father figure to many. He and his wife Judy have served in community outreach ministry since the late 1980s and founded Urban Light Ministries in 1995. Eli has been a professional fatherhood practitioner since 2008 and is an ordained Christian minister helping to pastor New Hope Church in Springfield, Ohio. Reverend Williams authored Father Love—The Powerful Resource Every Child Needs in 2018.

Join

We invite you to join Fathering Strong, a new and growing community of fathers. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, converse with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Go to www.fatheringstrong.com to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.


[i] http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-3475_162-226894.html

[ii] Duet. 6:7 NKJV

Why Every Child Needs a “POPS”: Father As Protector

[1]Every child needs the love of a “pops.” That is what my son, Elijah, and many children call their fathers or father figures today. If you have a child, you must know about your important, God-given role in that child’s life. To communicate this, I’ve created the acronym “POPS,” which stands for protectors, order keepers, providers, and stabilizers. What follows are my definitions of those terms as they are related to fatherhood.

PROTECTORS

Mature, responsible males are indispensable in making homes, neighborhoods, and schools safe places for children.

ORDER KEEPERS

Their manly influence calms the unruly tendencies of younger males.

PROVIDERS

Responsible fathers contribute as many resources as they can for their children, including financial, emotional, spiritual, educational, and other valuable resources.

STABILIZERS

As mature, responsible men are present, empowered, and engaged in homes and neighborhoods, they bring stability.

In the next few blog posts, we will explore these aspects of effective fatherhood, beginning with protector.

Being a Protector

Mothers are known as protectors of their children. The Creator has also placed the instinct to be his child’s guardian within fathers. Every child needs the secure feeling that comes from knowing their father loves them and is there to watch over and protect them.

Neither is the urge to protect offspring exclusive to moms in the animal kingdom. Dads of many species play a vital role in keeping their young safe. Animals like silverback gorillas and lion prides have strong males who act as guardians. Silverbacks will use their impressive size and strength to deter threats from their family group, including young ones. While the females do most of the hunting, lions rely on the males to defend their pride from outside dangers. The drive to ensure the survival of their offspring is a powerful instinct in many male animals.

In 2019, a man named Dustin Elick from Colorado risked his own life to save his young son from a mountain lion attack. While hiking with his wife and two children, a mountain lion lunged at Elick’s 6-year-old son. Elick threw himself between the predator and his son, yelling and swatting at the animal. The mountain lion attacked Elick, leaving him with severe injuries on his arms and legs. However, his bravery gave his wife time to grab their other child and call for help. Elick underwent surgery and extensive therapy but eventually recovered. This story gained national attention, highlighting the incredible lengths a father will go to protect his child.[2] Hopefully, most of us dads will never have to battle a mountain lion to protect our families! But there are many things we can do to ensure our children’s safety. It begins at home.

In the Home

Having a mature, responsible, and present dad is best for the safety of children. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, kids with live-at-home fathers are less likely to be abused.[i]

It is a father’s responsibility to work with his child’s mother to ensure their child’s physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual safety.

Even live-away dads have this duty. The dedicated father is most likely to fulfill this obligation when he is encouraged and enabled to be consistently present in his child’s life. Just being around makes a difference in the level of protection he can give his child. No child should live in fear in their own home. Yet, too often, boys and girls witness family violence or become victims of abuse at the hands of someone in their own home. Often, the perpetrator is the boyfriend of the mother, the mother herself, or shamefully, sometimes even the biological father.

Family violence (also named domestic abuse or domestic violence) is a pattern of behavior that involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation.

10 million children are exposed to family violence every year!

If you have violent tendencies, please seek help right away for the safety of your family.

Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Contact a crisis hotline: Resources are available 24/7 to talk confidentially with a trained professional. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (https://www.thehotline.org/) is a good option in the US, or you can find resources specific to your area by searching online for “crisis hotline” + your location.
  2. Contact a therapist or counselor: A therapist can provide treatment to explore the root causes of violent tendencies and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Psychologists can also assess underlying conditions that might be contributing to anger or aggression. You can find a therapist through your insurance provider or by searching online for therapists in your area.
  3. Join an anger management program: These programs teach skills to identify triggers, manage anger healthily, and communicate effectively. Many options are available online and in person.
  4. Talk to your doctor: Sometimes, violent tendencies can be linked to underlying medical conditions. Your doctor can do a physical exam and recommend treatment if necessary.
  5. Consider a men’s support group: Connecting with other men who are working on managing anger or violence can be a source of support and encouragement. You can find men’s support groups online or through local mental health organizations.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Be honest: The more open you are with a therapist or counselor, the better they can help you.
  • Be patient: Change takes time and effort. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately.
  • Stay committed: Recovery is a journey, not a destination. There will be setbacks, but it’s important to keep working towards your goals.

Remember, there is no shame in seeking help. It’s a sign of strength and a commitment to living a safer and healthier life for yourself, your family, and others around you.

Other Threats in the Home

Protective dads are on the lookout for threats to their families’ well-being from hazards like chemical, fire, electrical, and other dangers. Plus, online predators.

In the Neighborhood

Neighborhoods are safer for children when fathers are present. It is believed by some that the chief predictor of crime in a neighborhood is the percentage of homes without fathers.[ii]

The popular African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” assumes that the village includes fathers who fulfill their roles in the lives of the children. Masai warriors, for example, greet each other every day with the question, “How are the children?” They answer each other, “All the children are well.” Those mighty warriors understand that the truest measure of the health and security of their community is indicated by the well-being of the children. They know that their mission as protectors of the tribe is to defend the village from internal and external threats to the welfare of the children.

High-crime neighborhoods are characterized by a high concentration of families abandoned by fathers. Fathers who want their neighborhoods to be safe places for children must commit to being present, involved, and vigilant.

Protecting Your Child from Traffickers

Child trafficking is a horrific crime, and it’s understandable to want to do everything you can to keep your kids safe. Here are some steps parents can take:

Open Communication:

  • Build Trust: Create a safe space where your children feel comfortable talking to you about anything, including uncomfortable situations or people who make them feel weird.
  • Start Early & Often: Talk to your children about personal safety early and have regular conversations as they grow older. Age-appropriate discussions are key.
  • Body Safety & Boundaries: Teach your children about their bodies, privacy, and the importance of saying “no” to anything that makes them uncomfortable, even from adults they know.

Education & Awareness:

  • “Stranger Danger” Revisited: While the term “stranger danger” can be limiting, emphasize that not everyone they meet will be safe, even if they seem nice.
  • “Good Touch” vs. “Bad Touch”: Teach children about appropriate and inappropriate touching and empower them to tell you if someone touches them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • The “Buddy System” & Safe Places: Encourage children to be with a trusted adult or friend in public places and designate safe places to go for help if they feel lost or scared.

Supervision & Monitoring:

  • Know Their Activities: Know your children’s whereabouts, who they are with, and what they’re doing online.
  • Monitor Online Activity: Talk to your children about online safety and monitor their internet use. Social media platforms can be breeding grounds for traffickers.
  • Watch for Warning Signs: Be aware of potential signs that a child might be at risk, such as withdrawal, unexplained absences, or new possessions they can’t explain.

Community & Support:

  • Talk to Other Parents: Discuss safety concerns with other parents and consider creating a network of trusted adults to watch over children in your community.
  • Get Involved in Prevention: Support organizations working to combat child trafficking and educate yourself about local resources.

Remember:

  • Empower your children with knowledge and confidence.
  • Practice safety skills regularly.
  • Stay informed and involved in your children’s lives.

By following these steps, you can help create a strong foundation of safety and awareness for your children.

Inspiration from the Holy Scriptures

God highly values children and will avenge their abuse.

6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. – Matthew 18:6

About the Author

Eli Williams is a father, grandfather, and father figure to many. He and his wife Judy have served in community outreach ministry since the late 1980s and founded Urban Light Ministries in 1995. Eli has been a professional fatherhood practitioner since 2008 and is an ordained Christian minister. Reverend Williams authored Father Love—The Powerful Resource Every Child Needs in 2018.

Join

We invite you to join Fathering Strong, a new and growing community of fathers. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, converse with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Go to www.fatheringstrong.com to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.


[1] Portions of this blog post series were adapted from POPS 101, a training series published by Urban Light Ministries in the early 2000s. The POPS 101 online course is available in English and Spanish at https://www.fatheringstrong.com/spaces/7467745/content

[2] [Source: News articles about “Dustin Elick mountain lion attack” can be found with a web search].


[i] Promoting Responsible Fatherhood http://fatherhood.hhs.gov/Parenting/index.shtml

[ii] Fatherhood Facts http://www.dhr.state.al.us/page.asp?pageid=408

Making Father’s Day Special: History, Global Traditions, And Celebration Tips

One of the greatest institutions on earth is fatherhood. When fatherhood is done right, it benefits children and families and improves communities and the world. Appropriately, Father’s Day is observed once a year on the third Sunday in June to honor fathers.

In today’s Fathering Strong blog, we will look into the history of Fatherhood and will offer suggestions for making this year’s celebration special.

The History of Father’s Day

Father’s Day in the US has a fascinating history, with several key figures and events contributing to its establishment:

  • Early Attempts:
    • In 1908, a woman named Grace Golden Clayton held a church service in West Virginia to honor fathers, particularly those lost in a mining accident. However, this event didn’t gain widespread traction.
  • Sonora Smart Dodd’s Initiative:
    • In 1909, inspired by Mother’s Day, Sonora Smart Dodd, a woman from Washington, proposed a day to honor fathers. Her own father, a Civil War veteran who raised six children alone, motivated her.
    • In 1910, the first official Father’s Day celebration occurred in Spokane, Washington, on June 19th.
  • Gaining Momentum:
    • The idea gradually gained support, with President Calvin Coolidge expressing his approval in 1924.
    • In 1956, Congress passed a resolution recognizing Father’s Day, but it wasn’t yet a national holiday.
  • Official Recognition:
    • In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day through an executive order.
    • Finally, in 1972, President Richard Nixon signed the law that made Father’s Day a permanent national holiday in the United States.

So, while there were earlier attempts, Sonora Smart Dodd’s initiative and the dedication of others ultimately led to the official establishment of Father’s Day in the US on the third Sunday of June.

Father’s Day is a significant and popular holiday in the US, though not quite as popular as Mother’s Day. Here’s how it compares:

  • Spending:
    • In 2023, Americans spent a record-breaking $22.9 billion on Father’s Day, which is a substantial amount.
    • However, Mother’s Day typically sees even higher spending, reaching around $25 billion in 2023.
  • Participation:
    • Surveys suggest that around 75% of Americans plan to celebrate Father’s Day, indicating a high level of participation.
    • Mother’s Day usually sees slightly higher participation rates.
  • Overall Popularity:
    • YouGov polling ranks Father’s Day as the 6th most popular national and religious event in the US.
    • Mother’s Day typically holds a higher position in these rankings.

So, while Father’s Day is widely celebrated and generates significant spending, it doesn’t quite reach the same level of popularity as Mother’s Day in the US. That’s okay.

Is Father’s Day Observed Globally?

Father’s Day is observed in many countries worldwide, but the dates and traditions vary. Here are some key points:

  • Global Reach:
    • Father’s Day is celebrated in over 110 countries, showcasing its widespread recognition.
  • Date Variations:
    • While the US celebrates on the third Sunday of June, other countries have different dates.
      • Some examples include:
        • Canada, UK, and Argentina: Third Sunday of June.
        • Australia and New Zealand: First Sunday of September.
        • Thailand: December 5th (King’s Birthday).
        • Italy and Portugal: March 19th (St. Joseph’s Day).
  • Local Traditions:
    • Each country has its own unique traditions for celebrating Father’s Day.
    • Common themes include gift-giving, special meals, family gatherings, and outdoor activities.

So, while the specific date and traditions may differ, the spirit of honoring fathers is shared across many cultures.

Celebrating the Holiday

I don’t usually give much thought to it. Every year, going out for a nice lunch after church is the extent of what my family does.

How will you celebrate Father’s Day this year? I searched for ideas for making the holiday special, and here are some I came up with.

Ideas for Making Father’s Day Special

Honoring your father on Father’s Day:

There are many ways to celebrate Father’s Day, depending on your father’s interests and your budget. Here are some ideas:

Quality Time:

  • Plan an activity you both enjoy: This could be anything from going for a hike or bike ride to playing a game of catch or watching his favorite sports team.
  • Have a family picnic: Pack a delicious lunch and head to a park or your backyard for some quality time together.
  • Help him with a project: If your dad is working on something around the house, offer to lend a hand. It’s a great way to bond and get things done.
  • Create a personalized gift: Make a photo album, write a heartfelt letter, or create a piece of art that expresses your appreciation of him.

Gifts:

  • Choose a thoughtful gift: Consider his hobbies and interests when choosing a gift. It could be something practical, like a new tool or gadget, or something sentimental, like a framed photo or personalized item.
  • Cook him his favorite meal: Prepare a delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner for him. It’s a simple gesture that shows you care.
  • Give him an experience: Tickets to a concert, sporting event, or museum visit can be a memorable gift.

Other Ideas:

  • Write him a letter or poem: Express your love and appreciation for him in writing.
  • Create a family time capsule: Fill a box with photos, letters, and other mementos to open in the future.
  • Plant a tree in his honor: This is a lasting and meaningful way to celebrate him.
  • Volunteer together: Spend the day giving back to your community.

Remember, the most important thing is to spend quality time with your father and show him how much you appreciate him.

Dads, Let’s Celebrate Each Other!

There are many ways for fathers to celebrate other fathers on Father’s Day, fostering a sense of community and appreciation:

Sharing the Celebration:

  • Organize a group outing: Plan a dads’ day out with friends and family. This could involve:
    • A hike or camping trip
    • A sporting event or concert
    • A game night or poker tournament
  • Host a backyard barbecue: Invite other dads and their families for a casual get-together with food, drinks, and games.
  • Start a Father’s Day tradition: Create a new tradition with other dads, like an annual fishing trip or volunteering together.

Gestures of Appreciation:

  • Write a letter or card:  Express your gratitude for other dads in your life, highlighting their positive qualities and the impact they have.
  • Offer a helping hand: If another dad is struggling with a project or chore, offer to lend a hand. It’s a simple way to show support and appreciation.
  • Share a thoughtful gift: Consider a small, personalized gift for other dads, like a homemade treat, a book related to their interests, or a gift card to their favorite store.

Community Involvement:

  • Volunteer together: Organize a group of dads to volunteer at a local charity or organization. This is a meaningful way to give back to the community and spend time together.
  • Support local businesses: Choose to patronize businesses owned or operated by dads in your community.
  • Spread the word: Encourage other dads to celebrate Father’s Day and recognize the importance of their role in families and society.

Remember, the key is to show appreciation and create a sense of connection among fathers.

Community Recognition of Fathers

As communities acknowledge the contributions of good fathers to the well-being of their families and the greater community, they encourage more of the same.

Our nonprofit, Urban Light Ministries, provides the Good Dad Award™ in my community. The award aims to raise awareness and promote good fatherhood through positive and meaningful recognition that inspires and motivates others. More than 40 fathers will be honored this year with one of the Good Dad Awards™. They will be presented certificates the day before Father’s Day at an annual public event we call FatherFest.

The Good Dad Award™ is available for anyone, anywhere, to recognize a father at any time. Simply go to our website, www.urbanlight.org. You will find the criteria, rules, and online nomination form there. Their certificate will be emailed to them. The submission is free, but donations to our fatherhood work are encouraged.

Guidance from the Holy Scriptures

Honoring fathers is not only a good idea; it is commanded by the Heavenly Father.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you. – Exodus 20:12

The mandate is also found in the New Testament.

“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.” – Ephesians 6:2-3

About the Author

Eli Williams is a father, grandfather, and father figure to many. He and his wife Judy have served in community outreach ministry since the late 1980s and founded Urban Light Ministries in 1995. Eli has been a professional fatherhood practitioner since 2008 and is an ordained Christian minister. Reverend Williams authored Father Love—The Powerful Resource Every Child Needs in 2018.

Join

We invite you to join Fathering Strong, a new and growing community of fathers. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, converse with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Click here to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.

Understanding The Father Wound: Causes, Effects, And Healing Strategies

In the last few episodes of the Fathering Strong Podcast, we have spent considerable blog space on fathers’ holistic health and inner healing. Today, we will take it a step further in our series on Self-Care by delving into the phenomenon of the father wound. What is a Father Wound? What can we do to heal? How can we break the cycle?

What is a Father Wound?

Simply stated, a father wound is a term used to describe the emotional pain caused by a problematic relationship with a father figure. A father wound can stem from having an absent father.

Absent Father

This can be that he was physically absent, like through death, divorce, frequent travel for work or military deployment, incarceration, or had workaholic tendencies.

  • Or, it can be that he was emotionally absent, where he was physically present but not engaged.
    • He was distant, aloof, disinterested, or non-communicative.

A father wound could have occurred because of having had an abusive father.

  • This can be physical, emotional, or even sexual abuse.

He may have been critical or dismissive.

  • A father who constantly criticizes you or belittles your achievements or emotions can create a wound.

These unhealthy father-child relationships may have left you feeling insecure, unworthy, or seeking constant validation. A father wound can also impact your future relationships.

“Daddy Issues”

Some people are said to have “daddy issues.” Is that the same as father wounds?

Pretty much.

  • “Daddy issues” is a casual term used to describe the lasting effects of a difficult relationship with a father figure during childhood. It’s important to note that it’s not a clinical diagnosis.
  • While the term is often used for women, it can apply to anyone experiencing problems due to a difficult and hurtful father figure.

Here’s a breakdown of the concept of “daddy issues”:

  • Causes: It often stems from an absent father (physically or emotionally), an abusive father, or a generally unhealthy relationship with a father.
  • Impacts: These experiences can lead to various challenges in adulthood, like difficulty trusting men, seeking constant validation, or being drawn to emotionally unavailable partners.

Something else to keep in mind:

  • Oversimplification: “Daddy issues” can be a flippant way to describe complex emotional issues.

Consequences of Unhealed Father Wounds

In the article You Should Know About the Father Wound,” Charlie Health explores the concept of a father wound and its impact on a person’s life.

  • He points out that father wounds typically begin in childhood and can have lasting consequences if left unaddressed.
  • His research suggests these wounds can increase the risk of
    • dropping out of school
    • developing behavioral problems
    • or experiencing mental health issues

The article emphasizes the emotional impact of a father wound, including feelings of:

  • Insecurity
  • Unworthiness
  • Seeking constant validation

It also highlights how these wounds can affect future relationships.

The Negative Impact on Relationships

A father wound can cast a long shadow on your present relationships, impacting how you connect with others in various ways. Here’s a breakdown of some potential effects:

Self-Esteem and Trust:

  • Feeling Unworthy: A father who was not supportive or present may have left you questioning your self-worth. This might make you doubt your ability to have healthy relationships or feel you don’t deserve love.
  • Difficulty Trusting Others: If your father figure was unreliable or deceitful, you may find it hard to trust new partners or friends. You might constantly anticipate rejection or abandonment. This can sometimes be self-fulfilling.

Relationship Patterns:

  • Seeking Validation: Craving the approval you didn’t receive from your father, you might end up in relationships where you constantly seek validation or approval from your partner.
  • Fear of Commitment: An emotionally distant father might make you wary of getting close to someone, leading to a fear of commitment.
  • Unhealthy Partners: You might unconsciously gravitate towards partners who exhibit similar qualities to your father, such as being emotionally unavailable or critical. This can lead to a cycle of unhealthy relationships.

Communication and Boundaries:

  • People-Pleasing: In an attempt to gain the approval you did not receive from your father, you might become a people-pleaser, prioritizing your partner’s needs while severely neglecting your own. This can create resentment and unhealthy boundaries.
  • Fearful of Intimacy: Having a distant father might make intimacy feel scary. You might struggle to open up emotionally or feel uncomfortable depending on someone else.
  • Anger Issues: Unexpressed anger from childhood can manifest in new relationships, leading to arguments and difficulty communicating effectively.

It’s important to remember that these are just some possibilities, and not everyone with a father wound will experience each of these effects. However, knowing these potential impacts can help you understand your relationship patterns and work towards healthier connections.

Here are some strategies for healing your father wound.

Healing the Father Wound

Acknowledge and Validate Your Pain:

  • The First Step: The journey to healing starts with acknowledging the pain caused by your father figure. Suppressing these emotions only hinders progress.
  • Allow Yourself to Feel: Grant yourself permission to feel the full range of emotions associated with the wound, like anger, sadness, or frustration. Journaling or talking to a therapist can be helpful outlets.

Understanding the Wound:

  • Identify the Cause: Reflect on your relationship with your father. Was he absent, abusive, critical, or something else? Understanding the root of the wound can provide context for your emotions.
  • Triggers: Notice situations or behaviors that trigger feelings of pain or anger related to your father. Identifying them allows you to develop coping mechanisms.

Self-Compassion and Inner Strength:

  • Be Kind to Yourself: Instead of self-criticism, practice self-compassion. Recognize that you were a child who deserved love and support.
  • Inner Strength: Healing takes time and effort. Celebrate your progress and build your inner strength through activities that boost your self-esteem.

Inner Child Work:

  • Reconnect with Your Inner Child: The part of you that still carries the pain from your childhood needs attention. Techniques like visualization or writing letters to your younger self can help you process those emotions.

Seeking Support:

  • Therapy: Professional help from a therapist can be invaluable in guiding you through the healing process. They can provide tools and strategies for managing your emotions and developing healthier relationship patterns.
  • Support Groups: Connecting with others with similar experiences can validate and provide a sense of community.
    • Join a Fathering Strong community or start one.

Additional Tips:

  • Setting Boundaries: Learn to set healthy boundaries in your relationships. This empowers you to avoid situations that trigger your pain.
  • Focus on Healthy Relationships: Nurture positive relationships with supportive and loving people who can fulfill your emotional needs.
  • Forgive: Forgiveness is not for your father but for yourself. It’s about letting go of resentment and anger that can hinder your healing.
    • Forgiveness is a process. The deeper the wound, the longer the process my be.
    • Keep forgiving every time you remember and feel the pain. Eventually, your healing will come.
    • Have a heart-to-heart talk with him.
      • Tell him how much he hurt you.
      • Tell him you have forgiven him.
      • Tell him why you have forgiven him.

It is Important to Know What Forgiveness is Not.

  • Forgiveness is not pretending it did not happen.
  • Forgiveness is not forgetting it happened.
  • Forgiveness is not condoning or excusing what happened.
  • Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation.

Remember: Healing a father-wound is a journey, not a destination. There will be setbacks, but with consistent effort and self-compassion, you can build healthier relationships and move forward with a stronger sense of self.

Spiritual Healing of the Father Wound

A piece titled Understanding and Healing the Father Wound by Focus on the Family Canada offers a Christian viewpoint, pointing out that:

  • Salvation and a relationship with God alone may not erase the wound itself.
  • Healing sometimes requires addressing barriers like pride, unforgiveness, and negative beliefs about yourself and God.
  • Inner healing involves revisiting and processing painful memories with Jesus’ help. 

Forgiveness is a requirement for Christians.

  • Forgiveness is not optional.

According to Matthew 6:14-15, a person who doesn’t forgive others will not be forgiven by God. In the verses, Jesus states: For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Inspiration from the Holy Scriptures

32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32

To review the other blog posts in this series, click here.

About the Author

Eli Williams is a father, grandfather, and father figure to many. He and his wife Judy have served in community outreach ministry since the late 1980s and founded Urban Light Ministries in 1995. Eli has been a professional fatherhood practitioner since 2008 and is an ordained Christian minister. Reverend Williams authored Father Love—The Powerful Resource Every Child Needs in 2018.

Join

We invite you to join Fathering Strong, a new and growing community of fathers. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, converse with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Click here to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.

Unlocking Inner Healing: Your Ultimate Guide to Self-Care

You probably wouldn’t take the time to read these articles if you were not committed to being the best dad you can be for your children. That starts with taking care of ourselves first. On an airplane, during the pre-flight instructions, the flight attendant advises parents that the masks will drop down in the event of a loss of oxygen.  They tell us to put on our masks before putting on the children’s. Why? Of course, it is because if we pass out, we won’t be able to help our child. In that, we are reminded that we are no good for others unless we take care of ourselves first. This applies when we are talking about inner health.

Today’s blog post is another in our series on Self-Care. Our conversation will focus on Inner Healing.

Healing Inside and Out

Being our best requires being holistically healthy in the deepest sense. Have you ever bit into an apple that looked delicious on the outside only to realize that it was mushy because it was overripe?  We can look good on the outside while suffering greatly internally. To be truly whole, we need to be healthy inside and out.

Inner healing is the process of addressing and resolving emotional and psychological wounds from past experiences. It aims to bring wholeness and well-being to a person’s mind, body, and spirit.

Here are some key aspects of inner healing:

Dealing with Past Hurts

This can involve negative experiences like abuse, neglect, trauma, or loss.

  • If a past hurt remains unhealed, the wound will get worse. As a physical injury can become infected and send poison throughout the body, unresolved trauma can have a significant impact on our lives.  

Here are some of the consequences of unhealed hurts:

  • Mental health issues: Unprocessed pain can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. The constant emotional strain can leave you overwhelmed and struggling to cope with daily life.
  • Relationship problems: Unhealed hurts can make trusting others and forming healthy relationships difficult.
    • An unhealed trauma is like an unexploded landmine. It can blow up on innocent people with the slightest trigger.
    • You might find yourself pushing people away or attracting unhealthy partners who mirror your past experiences.
  • Self-esteem and self-worth: Unresolved trauma can chip away at your self-esteem and make it difficult to believe in yourself. You might engage in negative self-talk or feel like you’re not good enough.
  • Emotional regulation: You might struggle to manage your emotions healthily. Unhealed hurts can lead to emotional outbursts, difficulty expressing feelings, or numbing your emotions altogether.
  • Destructive behaviors: Unprocessed pain can sometimes lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse, self-harm, or risky behaviors.
  • Repetitive patterns: Unhealed hurts can keep you stuck in unhealthy cycles. You might find yourself repeatedly having similar negative experiences in your life.

Inner healing helps us understand how these experiences have impacted us and develop healthier coping methods.

Forgiveness

Letting go of resentment and anger towards ourselves or others who may have caused us pain is crucial to inner healing.

In the book Total Forgiveness, the author R.T. Kendall argues that forgiveness isn’t just a virtue but a crucial choice and a way of life. Here are some key points:

  • Radical Forgiveness: The book challenges readers to move beyond a basic understanding of forgiveness. It’s not about condoning the wrongdoing or forgetting the hurt. Instead, it’s about letting go of the past and embracing a future filled with love, grace, and mercy.
  • Unconditional Release: Total forgiveness involves surrendering the right to hold onto the hurt and releasing the offender completely, even when it feels impossible. This act of releasing the other person also frees the one who forgives.
  • Daily Practice: The book acknowledges total forgiveness is a challenging but attainable goal. It requires ongoing effort, discipline, prayer, and reliance on God’s strength.
  • Transformation: Kendall emphasizes the transformative power of total forgiveness. By releasing bitterness, individuals can experience inner healing, improved relationships, and a life filled with greater peace and joy.
  • Biblical Foundation: The book draws heavily on the Bible to support the concept of total forgiveness. It highlights passages where Jesus and others preached forgiveness and mercy.
    • In one instance, Jesus teaches that forgiveness is a process that may need to be repeated an endless number of times – “70 times 7.”  (Matt. 18:21-22)
      • To achieve total forgiveness for a deeply hurtful offense, we may need to forgive the offending person or persons every time it is remembered until it no longer hurts.

Forgive God?

For some, total forgiveness may involve the need to forgive God.  You may be thinking, “That sounds blasphemous!” God can never need to be forgiven! He is perfect! He never makes mistakes! You are right about that.  However, we humans sometimes blame God for the bad things that happen to us, even though He is innocent. “God, why did you allow that to happen?” Or worse, “Lord, why did you do that to me?!? 

Thankfully, Jehovah is a great big God who can take being falsely blamed for the hurtful things that happen to us.

Faulty Thinking

Bad theology has led many people to believe that bad things that happen to people are caused by God. Scripture does not teach that God is the author of pain and suffering.

  • When Job, in his extreme grief, said, “The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away” (Job 1:21 NLT), he was not blaming God for all the misfortunes that happen to everyone.
    • In stating that, Job was worshipfully acknowledging Jehovah as the giver of his family and the provider of all his possessions.  (James 1:17)Job was lamenting that God had allowed His terrible losses.In faith and knowing that God is good, Job trusted that God’s will and His justice are perfect.
    • His response was heartfelt worship of the sovereign God, not anger.

To heal from any falsely perceived injury from God, forgive Him.

  • As you heal, your thinking will become clearer, and the truth about His goodness and His love for you will be revealed as never before.

Self-Compassion

Inner healing encourages us to develop kindness and understanding towards ourselves, even for our flaws.

  • Self-compassion involves forgiving ourselves for our mistakes.
  • It includes treating yourself with the same gentleness and understanding you would offer a close friend going through a tough time.
  • It means replacing self-criticism with supportive self-talk.

The Benefits of Inner Healing

The inner healing process can lead to personal growth and a stronger sense of self.

Inner healing offers a wide range of benefits that can improve your overall well-being. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Emotional Resilience:
    • By processing and releasing past hurts, you become better equipped to handle challenges and bounce back from setbacks.
    • You’ll have a stronger emotional foundation to navigate life’s difficulties.
  • Improved Mental Health:
    • Unhealed emotional wounds can contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
    • Inner healing can alleviate these symptoms and promote a more positive mental state.
  • Greater Self-Awareness:
    • Inner healing often involves introspection and self-reflection. This process can lead to a deeper understanding of your thoughts, emotions, and motivations. With greater self-awareness, you can make more conscious choices and build a life that aligns with your values.
  • Healthier Relationships:
    • Unresolved emotional baggage can negatively impact your relationships with others.
    • Inner healing can foster healthier connections by allowing you to trust more openly, communicate effectively, and build stronger bonds.
  • Increased Self-Esteem:
    • When you release negativity and forgive yourself for past mistakes, your self-esteem can flourish. Inner healing can help you develop a more positive self-image and believe in your own worth.
  • Personal Growth:
    • Inner healing is a journey of self-discovery. By confronting past hurts, you gain valuable insights into who you are and who you want to become. This process can lead to significant personal growth and positive change.
  • Greater Peace and Acceptance:
    • Letting go of past burdens can bring a profound sense of peace and acceptance. Inner healing allows you to live more fully in the present moment without being weighed down by the past.

Overall, inner healing is an investment in your well-being. It empowers you to take control of your emotional life, build stronger relationships, and create a more fulfilling future.

Inner healing can be approached through various methods, including therapy, journaling, meditation, and support groups. Some spiritual traditions also incorporate practices like prayer and forgiveness rituals into their approach.

Inspiration from the Holy Scriptures

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. – 3 John 2 NIV

Click here to read other blog posts on Self-Healing

Join

We invite you to join Fathering Strong, a new and growing community of fathers. To register, go to www.fatheringstrong.com, download the free app, and turn on the notifications. Explore the many resources, engage in conversations with other fathers, and share your story.

Your financial contributions allow us to serve fathers at no cost. Please consider donating. Fathering Strong is powered by Urban Light Ministries, Inc., a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 in Springfield, Ohio. Our mission is to turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to the Heavenly Father.  Please consider supporting to work of building and growing Fathering Strong. Click here to donate. To learn more about Urban Light Ministries’ history, work, and mission, explore www.urbanlight.org.