Over the last couple of weeks I’ve talked about what we can do to begin the process of reconciling a relationship that has been shaken to its core–one that has been decimated by a father who has not been present, for any one of many reasons, either physically or emotionally for his son. Before we can actually step into our rightful role as a mentor or as a father we have to re-establish a trust. We need to demonstrate a genuine want to be there and to be involved. Remember that the son has gotten along without you up to now so why would he want to change things at this point. That’s why those first three elements are so important.(If you missed them they are in the archives on the main page)They lay the ground work for creating an environment where the healing can begin. There is no time table for this to take place. It’s not a matter of two weeks and everything is good again. This work can sometimes take months or years. But when it does happen we need to be ready to keep the process moving to the next level of engagement. The time to prove ourselves doesn’t end-it may never end. It takes constant reinforcement. Drop the ball again and the likelihood is we will not get another chance at being a dad.
So what is it that our sons need from us as their fathers or mentors? Sometimes they want us to see them as growing and maturing. Sometimes they need to show us that they are good at something-a particular skill or talent for instance and that we are proud of them for their accomplishment(s). Sometimes they just need to show us that they are smart, intelligent and capable of thinking ahead and of understanding the world they live in. Most of the time they just want to know or have us tell them that we get them and that we hear them and that we are interested in their views and what they consider to be important. They want us to know about the world they live in and what that world is like for them. They want us to understand what they go through each day to live in their world. It’s about us giving them our undivided attention. We need to make an effort to hear them without judgement, criticism or taking them lightly. They want us to see them and to accept them as young men who are growing into adult men.
Sometimes the most important words a father can say to his son are the ones that remain unspoken. What they need is for us to sit with them and listen to what it is they have to say about what’s on their mind. What consumes their thinking? What are they struggling with? What challenges they face? It doesn’t matter what it is. Just know that it is important to them and that they are wanting to talk to us about it. This is what adds a sense of value to our relationship with our sons. Isn’t that what we all want as parents? Don’t we want our sons to feel that they can come to us and talk to us about anything before they talk to anyone else? Our job here is to pay attention and be quiet. That’s it. We may not like their opinions or their views but there will come a time when further discussions will happen around these topics or issues. If they are bringing them up for discussion then they must feel it’s important to them for some reason unknown to us. At some point they will tell us what it is they want from us–IF we are listening and not trying to formulate a response to them instead. In any case we need to respect that, whether we like it or not, our sons are entitled to their views and opinions and our job is not to tell them how to think or feel. We can not demand they see the world as we do. If we can remain objective here the rest will be much easier.
Anyway that’s how I see it–all the best–Jim
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