In the first post of this little series I looked at the pros of cons of mothers on the development of our fledgling psyche. Interestingly most folk have kept their comments to themselves after reading it. Perhaps I have unearthed a pain not yet reading for the Light. Perhaps the post was way off mark. Anyway, today I wish to look at fathers and how they influence our psycho-spiritual makeup.
Contrary to popular myth it was the women folk who ruled the roost within the human communities of ancient times. The warrior Amazons of folklore representing a hidden truth that the modern male prefers to ignore. Somewhere in the dark annals of history a shift took place and men rose to the top of the tribal pecking order, at least in theory if not altogether in practice.
Today we again live in a time of flux where the relatively recent social order is once again shifting. Women are once more emerging from under the male dominance of social norms. It is difficult being a mother and indeed a father in such a whirlwind of social change, no matter how beneficial it may prove to the future of mankind.
Having said this, I wish to look at fathers in light of the traditional Middle Eastern take on fathers, one that prevailed in 1st century Palestine at the time of the Nazarene. Such social norms greatly influenced the religious take on God, pushing the concept of the Divine feminine to the edges of acceptability or into the so-called heretical realms of goddess worship. Yeshua’s contemporaries perceived God as a Father due to their belief that fathers were the source of life. This Divine Source was by their definition in control as of right. The One who provides the gift of life wields the authority to govern it. Middle Eastern fathers were thus perceived as governors in their own home and as such to be honoured and obeyed.
This model of fatherhood was left unchanged by the developing Christian movement as it spread westwards. Today our Western view of fatherhood is slowly changing but vestiges of the old hierarchical order still cling to our daily family affairs.
So what of our fathers? How have they shaped our psycho-spiritual development. Let me first start with the negatives. Absentee fathers are the plague of our modern world. Willing enough to sow their seed in an act of sensual pleasure many ‘dads’ aren’t so keen on hanging around for long. Many of our inner feelings of abandonment and loneliness can be attributed to the absence of an authenticating male parent. No matter how well our single mothers pour their love and nurture into our fledgling psyche-souls there is a wee gap. At the risk of appearing sexist, I believe that fathers who run away are depriving their kids of something deeply valuable. It is one thing to be loved by a single parent; it’s an altogether different level of assurance to have two parents, both present and engaging in a mutual love. The world appears to be a safer place for those of us fortunate enough to have been raised in such an environment.
Of course many fathers hang around but might as well have left. Fathers who are severely dysfunctional imprint disorder and confusion onto the psyche-soul of their deeply observational kids. Violent mood swings or emotional apathy are vicious psychic wounds that remain with us well into adulthood. Unaware of how messed up our fathers really are we give them the benefit of the doubt by believing ourselves to be at fault. Our childhood reasoning goes something like this: “If I take the blame, then dad will love me”. Such faulty programming goes with us into life as we seek the approval of further father-like figures, whether future husbands or work-place bosses.
Of course some fathers are dysfunctional in an altogether way, attempting to micro-manage the life of their child. Discipline and training are the cover stories for what in essence is a form of bullying. The bullying dad who makes his son or daughter do the right thing is a deeply insecure individual, most likely a victim himself of past parental abuse. In this camp we often find the religious zealot who believes that it is his duty to instil the fear of God into his offspring. Nothing of course is further from the truth, but many fathers use God as their cover story for emotional and often physical abuse.
So enough of the bad news! How can a father aid our healthy psycho-spiritual development. Well, obvious as it may seem, he must be a man who is secure enough to change and admit his own frailties, even to his children. If he has frozen on his own path of discovery he will do the same to his kids. Above all he will be a channel of unconditional love, even as one who sets out boundaries for his children. The children must know that they are loved not because of their performance but just because they are. If dads can convey and model this to their young families then they have sown a seed within their children’s psyche that will bear much emotional health in adulthood.
A father who understands the keys of human development and adjusts the manifestations of his love to suit his child’s stage of maturation is a wise man indeed. For the loving boundary setter of early childhood must morph into the dependable supporter as his growing child sets of on their own journey of Self-discovery.
Above all, the father who believes and trusts that Divine Love is within and authenticating the life of his child has the right idea. At times of suffering and pain, the good father will be helpless. It is in such times of turmoil that there is nothing left to hold onto but One who is All in All. It’s not easy to believe, for the pain of fatherhood can be psyche-shattering at times. As I stood over the open grave of my wee baby son Ben, back in 1984 I gave him over to the One from whom he’d come. It was as painful as hell but it was the only way. To do otherwise would have been a one way trip to insanity.
So, if you’ve been deprived by a lack of input or indeed damaged by abusive acts of a loveless man what is one to do? Well, the best plan is to call a spade a spade and get those inner memories out into the open. Left in denial they only fester away and manifest in mental health issues or physical illness. Find an external authenticator, one who can reprogramme those inner tracks of hurt with unconditional love. For some of us this requires therapy or the listening ear of a deep friend, for others serious reading and a willingness to delve into that place of rejection that we’ve never wanted to visit.
May Abba, the Cosmic Parent of the Nazarene and all mankind, guide us on the Path of inner healing and peace.