Fatherhood's Pain and Glory

We Must Face Our Own Story First



ARZTSAMUI/Shutterstock.com

I have worked in the corporate world, served as a missionary in the Middle East during 9/11 and the Iraq War, been assaulted with a knife, launched a small business and a nonprofit and suffered deep loss at the early deaths of dear friends, but nothing has terrified or paralyzed me more than fathering my own son. It has demanded me to first face my own father-story with an intensity and intentionality I would rather flee than engage.

My parents more than adequately provided for my physical needs. I had friends, lived in the suburbs and even had a horse. From the outside looking in, I had nothing to complain about. Any time the haunting ache of father-hunger emerged from my soul, I quickly squelched it, telling myself to simply move on. It is the story of most men in my generation.

I continued to live as if all was well until I married and had a son of my own. I was now a father, and the weight of this title sent my soul into a tailspin. What is father? Who am I as father? What does it mean to father? And finally, with the force of a left upper jab to the jaw: How was I fathered? I realized that to father him, I, myself, still needed to be fathered.

In my conversations with men about their father-stories, the most frequent sentence I hear is, “My dad did okay. He did the best he could.” But no child wants an “okay” dad. Every child longs for a dad to know, see, pursue, hope, envision, create and bless. Franciscan friar and author Richard Rohr states, “If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it in some form.” Untransformed pain from our father, whether from his absence, vacancy or violence, will inevitably be transmitted to our children.

I can only take my son as far as I myself have gone. Our sons were born into an already existing story—our story—and for them to know who they are, we need to know who we are, in all of our glory and pain. From this place of freedom, we can usher our sons into a manhood we can come to know together.


Reprinted with permission from Chris Bruno, the director of the Restoration Counseling Center of Northern Colorado and the president of the Restoration Project. He is the author of Man Maker Project: Boys are Born, Men are Made.


This article appears in the June 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Feeding Healthy Habits

Today’s barrage of junk food ads can easily influence kids for the worse, but 10 strategies, including visiting farmers’ markets, teaching cooking skills and implementing device-free family meals, can help them choose to eat better.

Beyond Sustainability

Farmers are increasingly exploring inexpensive organic methods to return microbial diversity to the soil, which could help mitigate a warming planet by allowing soil to absorb more carbon.

Aysha Akhtar on Our Symphony With Animals

Through her personal story as a survivor of childhood abuse and the stories of others, the neurologist demonstrates the scientific bond between animals and humans—and how they can heal each other.

Take It Easy on the Eggs

Eating three to four eggs a week increases heart disease mortality by 6 percent and all-cause mortality by 8 percent, a new study found.

Savor Cherries to Lower Metabolic Syndrome Risk

Montmorency tart cherries in juice or capsules lower systolic blood pressure and insulin levels within hours, reducing factors that lead to metabolic syndrome.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

Chicago NA to be Featured on The Zen Mommies Radio Show

Listen to Deb Hanneman, host of The Zen Mommies Radio Show as she interviews Peggy Malecki, publisher of Natural Awakenings Chicago North and North Shore.

Discover the 2013 Body Mind Spirit Expo

The Body Mind Spirit Expo, dedicated to helping individuals discover the radiant life that surrounds them, will be held March 2-3 at the Midwest Conference Center.

Karyn’s Inner Beauty Center and Day Spa Re-opens

Karyn Calabrese, an innovative leader in the holistic health industry, has reopened Karyn’s Inner Beauty Center and O2 Day Spa at 1901 North Halsted, in Lincoln Park.

Digital is Important for Dental X-Rays

We know that X-ray radiation is nothing to trifle with, but in comparison, dental X-rays are pretty tame.

Native Bees

While raising monarch butterflies in her Round Lake backyard, Pam Wolfe began learning about some much lesser-known and tinier insects—native bees.

Solar Tour Shows Benefits of Clean Renewable Energy

The Illinois Solar Tour, a day of free public open house self-guided tours organized by the Illinois Solar Energy Association, will highlight home, business and nonprofit renewable energy installations throughout the state.