Just because a father lives at home, does not mean he is available to his son or daughter. Fathers often overbusy themselves, so that they don't have to deal with their own responsibility and subliminal pain from their childhood. A parent has to resolve his own issues before he can completely be present and mindful of his children.
Boys desperately need and are searching for a connection to their father. Fathers are the ones who teach their sons control. In a physical game such as wrestling, it is the father who winds it down before someone gets hurt. However in the case of sports or contests, a father must check himself to see if the competition is indeed healthy, or if the father initiates competing for ego's sake.
If the father is submerged in his own ego, the challenge can take an aggressive tone, doing great harm to the boy's self esteem. When a boy has to actually fight his dad to win, the game loses its fun and becomes a struggle of wills and egos. A self-centered father manipulates the game, not as a pleasant pastime of teaching, but rather creates a situation to prove he is better.
Physically and psychologically, the father will be able to overpower and outwit his son. The odds are stacked against the younger player. So where is the sense of sportsmanship and fairness? In such battles of ego, the son will resent his dad for setting him up for failure. The son feels a great sense of defeat because he can never measure up to his father's standards and power. Instead of boosting the son's morale or teaching his son the art of a game, the dad keeps squashing him down, to build up his own ego. The boy feels frustration because he can never win.
When you analyze it, this kind of play has nothing to do with competition, rather it has to do with the father battling his own insecurity and bad feelings. In some instances, a father actually harbors jealousy toward his son and this takes the form of cruelty during play.
When Jessie and Matt are asked how they feel about their father Paul, before offering a reply, they smirk with cynicism. These brothers admit they don't completely trust that their father would be there for them, because when they were kids he was devilishly competitive with them.
Paul would frequently take his boys out for a game of tennis, under the guise of giving them instruction. But the boys never came away feeling like they learned much about the game at all. They would end each match feeling dejected and confused about their father. Paul would beat them using unscrupulous tactics; returning a volley too short for anyone to hit. The boys would discuss amongst themselves why their father would employ such strategies. There was never any question that their father was by far the more experienced player, so therefore why did he need to prove it? They could not figure out why their dad always had to win.
As adults, Jessie and Matt followed their father into careers in the entertainment industry. Grown up, they look back on the years of advice their father gave, but not much more help was extended. Their dad never went out of his way to help them, especially in terms of shaping and cultivating their professions. Paul told his sons over and over again, " I don't believe in nepotism, you have to do it yourselves."
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The boys understood their father's philosophy to a point, but there were so many instances when they really could have used some intelligent feedback and guidance. Their father never extended himself beyond, "just keep at it". No matter how hard they worked, they could never win praise. How they longed to hear "well done, good job!" Those simple words were never uttered. Jessie and Matt admired their dad and, so often, when they really needed him, he just wasn't there.
Paul restrained support and nurturing towards his sons because of a silent but fervent jealousy he harbored toward them. Paul really saw them as outstanding and marvelous boys turned men, and hated that their futures were filled with hope and possibilities. This father admired his sons, but jealousy, and his own feelings of unworthiness, could never bring him to say so. Jessie and Matt have lived their lives never knowing how their father feels about them.
When Dads are Absent
The proliferation of gangs in this country is a result of boys missing their fathers. Fatherless families leave mothers with the overwhelming responsibility of playing both roles. It is impossible; mothers can not do it all. Moms who believe that they are doing it all, and doing it all well, are fooling themselves.
Single mothers are over-taxed with the obligations of raising children; preparing meals, cleaning house, shuttling kids to and from school, making doctors appointments, helping with homework, marketing, banking, tending to car repairs, and car-pooling to and after school activities. All this leaves very little time for nurturing their children or themselves. In fact, most hard working moms do not have an outlet for their own stresses. This weariness takes its toll on the children. Moms with short fuses are unable to cater to the emotional needs of her children.
No matter how bad or unattending a father is to his son and daughter, the children will always seek their father's approval. A father's approval is critical to a child's development, and particularly in the case of boys. A son feels as though he is adrift without the support and consent of his dad. For this reason, it is vital to our culture that boys have the attention and time of their fathers.
It is equally important that when a father advises and guides his son, the word is not darkened with criticism and judgments. The father must be mindful of not projecting his own issues or depression onto his son; because the boy will accept everything his father says as unfailing truth. Boys crave approval and unconditional love from their dads, as well as guidance and respect. Without it they flounder like an unmoored boat, smashing against the rocks.
This article is excerpted from the book "Broken Wings Can Learn to Fly: Why Children are Broken and How They Can Be Healed" by Francesca Cappucci Fordyce. To order the book, contact Francesca at: [email protected].
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About The Author
Francesca Cappucci Fordyce is a journalist who has worked in television, radio, and print mediums. She worked as an on-air reporter for 10 years with ABC News in Los Angeles. She is now a stay-at-home mom. Being a "broken child" who grew into a "broken person", she made it a priority to heal her pain because she did not want her child to inherit her negative traits. She can be contacted at: [email protected].