Five Common Barriers To Being The Father Your Child Needs
100% of children have a father. There is truly no other way for a child to exist. Sperm has to connect with an egg, and sperm only comes from the father. Some fathers have passed, but they are still the father. Some fathers have left, but they are still the father. Some fathers are incarcerated, but they are still the father.
Whatever way you experienced your father is what we call your “Father Pattern.” All of us — male and female — have experienced our father. Perhaps he was absent and you never knew him or he was always away, but that is a father pattern that you have. For women, most report that their father pattern effects how they interact with men in general. It impacts how they think about the father of their children. For men, their father pattern impacts what they believe is needed or necessary for their child from them.
I developed a curriculum called Full Throttle Into Fatherhood that I have taught in a Pregnancy Center for a couple of years now. I sometimes find moms who have a hard time believing that their child needs their father as much as a child needs their mom. Usually what we find is that those moms who reject this scientific truth have been in horrible situations with their father — or father figures — and they just do not trust men. They have had a horrible father pattern in their life.
When we first developed this course, it was facilitated with fathers and expectant fathers who were 17 years old and younger and incarcerated. Many of these fathers hated all of the men who were a part of their childhood years. Some did not know their fathers or were unsure if the man they called father was their actual biological father. Other men in their life may have abused them and mistreated them.
What impact can you imagine such father patterns leave them in their preparation to be a father? Now they are fathers — or expectant fathers — and they have no idea what it means to be a man or to be a father. They are insecure as to what it means to be an active and engaged father. They might not even be sure that they want to be a father. They are challenged and afraid about becoming a father. Every type of father pattern impacts what kind of father they will become. Even fathers who have always lived in the same house as the children impact them. Perhaps he was always there physically but was never involved or engaged in your life. If you experienced this as a child, you really did not ever know your father. He never came into your world and played. And he never invited your into their world. He spent no time with you.
What did you learn from your father/father figures in your life? What did you learn about how to do relationships, how to do emotions, how to handle your fears or anger, or what to do when there is relationship drama?
“And, fathers, do not drive your children mad, but nurture them in the discipline and teaching that come from the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 (VOICE)
5 General Father Patterns
- Absent Father- A Father you never knew. Whether incarcerated or if he just simply left or ran off, he is totally absent from your life. Men with an absent father pattern usually wonder “Do I have what it takes to be a father” or “Am I enough of a man to be the father my children need.” Women with an absent father pattern frequently wonder if they have value or worth. In that pursuit, some horrible things could happen to them in efforts to try to fill the gap caused by the absent father pattern.
- Angry Father- A Father with a pattern of aggression. We might never know when he’s angry. This can make their children feel that something is wrong or broken inside of them and that they can never do anything right. Children grown up living in fear and when they are adults they continue to be fearful. They are uncertain as to what or when Angry Father will have an outburst or incident. It us ingrained in many people’s minds, who experienced the Angry Father pattern growing up, that they cannot do anything right. They might get an interview for a dream job, but they don’t go. Or if they go they inadvertently sabotage the opportunity. This is because they feel that they cannot perform well or that they cannot do it right. Relationships are the same way. They might always feel it is their fault that their relationship is failing and in turn avoid commitment and happiness because they feel they are broken inside.
- Doormat Father- the passive father or the father without action. This father may have been involved in the child’s life but idly watches as he is ran over by mom, work, and others. This is a father that has never made a decision and always takes the path of least resistance. He tries to make peace at all costs. Many men who experience this as young boys might be unsure of their masculinity. Because of this uncertainty, they feel the need to power-up as they are afraid that people will take advantage of them. People with a doormat father pattern are frequently suspicious of others and feel everyone is trying to “pull one over” on them. They grow up looking for a fight to prove that no one is going to run over them, that they will be no one’s doormat.
- Present Only Physically Father. This Father stays present with the children, but does not engage them. People with a Present-Only-Physically father pattern never get to know him, nor did they ever felt like they had a relationship with him. He might just be there on the couch. He never shows full body attention to his children. His children are never on his radar. He never puts down what he’s reading, or never puts down his cell phone. In turn, the children never experience his full attention, or active engagement.
- HEALTHY FATHER. This father engages his children with a healthy relationship and expresses his emotion in healthy ways. He does not scream or yell. When he makes a mistake he offers an apology and tries to move forward after reconciling the relationship. He is present physically and engages his children in full body attention. When a child asks for his attention, he turns off work, phone, sports, television, or whatever is going on in his mind and turns toward them to fully engage them. He engages children in their world and invites them into his. He is emotionally present and he knows what’s going on in the head and heart of his child. He is able to read his child’s facial expressions to know that maybe something bad happened that day at school or with friends. He knows if they are happy, sad, or scared. He is involved enough in his child’s lives that he knows his child’s greatest joys and fears. He disagrees in ways that are not disagreeable. He finds healthy solutions and uses healthy methods to resolve conflict. He expresses his opinion and stands up for his family. He talks to the family member who is annoying him instead of talking about them to others. The healthy father pattern is also present spiritually – he engages his children for the future in their life, but he also prepares them for the life after this one. He helps them develop spiritual values that are important beyond this life. He is a forgiver and is not shy about also offering an apology when his actions intentionally or unintentionally cause a family member pain at any level.
Listen, Men ..
- Good fathers take the best of what they got from their father patterns and make the best choices so their children won’t have some of the same wounds that they have.
- They help their children grow up in a healthy environment.
- Your child needs you no matter what your father pattern.
- You cannot control what father pattern you experienced, but you have incredible power to give your child the father pattern you believe they most need.
– By Roy Wooten
Roy completed his initial Crucible weekend in 2009 and has been the longtime leader of The Crucible Project community in Houston. Roy and his wife Devra have led over 135 of their Life Together Forever Couples Weekends and are the authors of The Secret to Lifetime Love: Speaking and Hearing Truth. He also authored Full Throttle Into Fatherhood and is the Executive Director of Shield Bearer Counseling Centers in Houston, Texas. Follow Roy at LifeTogetherForever.com.
Photo Credit: Photo used with permission from Justin Fordinal.