When you think about being a father to your family do you get a knot in the pit of your stomach or thoughts of dread or fear? Do authority figures bring out a rebellious streak in you? Are you struggling with taking hold of the responsibilities of fatherhood because you’d rather play another video game first? These are signs of what’s called a father wound according to author Mark Driscoll.
I’ve worked with dads for almost 30 years. I’ll have to admit that I’ve never liked the term father wound. I don’t feel wounded by my father. When other men talked about feeling wounded, I made the assumption that they must be in the minority because I didn’t understand the depth of what they were describing.
My experience doesn’t remove the hole in the hearts of millions of men—the lack of confidence that comes from missing a father’s assurance, the lack of wisdom that comes from missing a father’s teaching or the lack of empathy that comes from missing a father’s smile and caring touch. I had those things. When I lack wisdom, confidence or empathy I can’t blame my dad.
Viewing the Conquer Series, a strategic intervention to keep internet porn from ruining your life and relationships, I was stopped in my tracks by the claim that father wounds are often at the root of porn addiction. Failure to address a father wound could drive a wedge in your marriage that will cost you intimacy in the relationship where you want it most.
Our tendency as fathers to avoid pain at all costs can prevent meaningful intervention in father wound recovery. We won’t go to the doctor because we expect the pain will just go away. We put off taking our wife on that date because we think things will get better without having to have the conversation. Sometimes the most needed action on our part is also the one we avoid.
Do one thing. Find another man to share a cup of coffee and have a conversation about your dad. Even if the summary of your dad’s involvement in your life can be stated in three sentences, have the conversation. One such conversation changed my life almost 15 years ago and hundreds of other dads have benefitted from my reflection that day. As you tell someone else about your journey, you will find clues about your future path. Connecting the dots about the things that have gone wrong can reveal effective ways to avoid pain in the right way: by confronting it head-on and taking some steps to make the future turn out different from the past.
You don’t have to blame your dad to heal a father wound. You can acknowledge his mistakes because you know you have some of your own. You can also correct your path and find greater effectiveness on the job and happiness in your life. Any father would be proud to know that his son made the necessary changes to keep a father wound from destroying his future.