Monday, March 09, 2009

Silence is Optional

Men today are longing to have good relationships with their children. But there have been generations of silence about what it means to be a father. We didn’t hear our own dads talk about it.

At my fathering workshops the most moving moment is when I ask, ‘How many of you feel like you’ve been changed as a man by having this daughter? Stand up if you can tell me one or two or three things that are different for you.’ Everyone in the room stands.

Then I ask, ‘Stand up if your father ever spoke to you about how he was changed as a man by you being his child.’ Often no one stands, and rarely more than 3 men stand. That’s a very emotional moment.

So many of us dads never heard anything on the subject from our own fathers. That’s really sad. However, it’s also an opportunity to break that cycle of silence, and talk to other fathers (including our own) about it.

In the process of writing my book Dads & Daughters®: How to Inspire, Understand and Support Your Daughter, I conducted in-depth interviews with about 130 men across the US, and corresponded with hundreds more. Women are always startled to learn that fully half of these men said I (a perfect stranger) was the first person they’d ever talked to in depth about fatherhood. Me aren’t surprised, because we’re so accustomed to father silence.

The good news? With only a handful of exceptions, the fathers I interviewed were articulate and passionate; we have a lot to say about the experience and importance of being a dad. And while all of that had gone unspoken until the moment of our interview, those men and I quickly learned there’s real power in asking.


Paul Bogush said...

Just spent some time going way back into your archives. Terrific blog. You will be added to my reader.