Chapter 3. Freeing the Father - Preparation
My father gave me the greatest gift anyone
could give another person, he believed in me.
Gifts from Our Fathers
We have each received gifts from our father.
There were the material gifts, perhaps toys or
sporting gear. Also there were the non-physical
gifts. Did your dad spend time with you? Did he
take the time to personally support you in things
that were important to you? Did he believe in you?
What messages did he give you about who you are?
Here we will reflect on the non-physical gifts,
rather than the material ones.
A variety of these gifts have been received
knowingly and some unknowingly. The gifts we
received from our father may have seemed like a
shiny, red bicycle or perhaps they felt more like a
rusty old bike with a flat tire and a bent wheel,
metaphorically speaking. Maybe they were wonderful,
endearing and cherished or possibly not.
Negative gifts you received could be
having an ongoing detrimental effect. If left
unresolved, events from our past can affect our
life and relationships indefinitely.
The opportunity here is to integrate the gifts,
regardless of their nature. If you are to discover
their value it may necessitate an unwrapping and
close examination of them in order to decide how
they can be useful to you now, as an adult. The
gifts from your father may have included love,
support and encouragement or criticism, anger and
blame. More likely than not, you received a
combination. What if you were able to embrace the
gifts, and the giver, and thereby receive value
from them? For those who received what seemed like
unloving gifts this may not always be an easy
process, and it is possible.
The following exercise can help. Judge for
yourself how deeply you want to go into the
questions raised and explorations into your
background. If there are deep, unresolved issues
you may want to consult with a counselor. This is
just the beginning of our exploration. Throughout
this book your enquiry will be guided by the use of
various techniques. Whatever type of fathering you
received, you have the ability to work through
issues and resolve them so you can feel more
confident about your own fathering.
You may wish to write a list of the
received from your father. Perhaps divide it
two lists; one of the cherished and empowering
gifts and another of the ones that seem
for you. This may include specific memories
or general feelings and thoughts.
We each had an upbringing which was one of a
kind. No one else had the same one, not even our
siblings. We were each conceived, spent time in the
womb and were born and raised under unique
circumstances. We also arrived at different times
in our fathers life as an individual and as a
father. As such, we have each had different
This time growing up could be compared to going
to school. Your father was the lead teacher in your
fathering school. You were taught about fathering
by your father. It was virtually the same as if you
had been learning accounting, in accounting school,
except it was typically for a much more extended
period of time and imprinted at a deeper emotional
level. Imagine attending the same school for
eighteen years and every day you have a lesson on
one particular subject; fathering. Some days the
lesson was explicit; other times it was more
subtle. Fathering may have been your favorite
class. You may have had an outstanding teacher who
treated you with love and respect. Perhaps you were
even his favorite student. Or it could have been an
unpleasant experience for you and not your favorite
class, or teacher for that matter. For most, it was
probably a mixture. In any case your father was
giving lessons and you were receiving them.
A review of your fathering curriculum could
prove valuable. View the teaching you received as
your career training for fatherhood. You may want
to do some review or post graduate studies in order
to have more freedom in your choices about being
the kind of father you want to be.
You could take this opportunity to
contemplate or write about what you think you
learned from your father. What was your childhood
like? What was your father like, and your
relationship with him? How was your fathers
relationship with your mother? How did he treat
her? What was your fathers relationship to
your family? Spending time reflecting on these
questions could be quite enlightening for you.
Often, answers are available to us when we ask the
right questions. You may wish to speak with
your father about this, if possible. You could also
write and explore some of these questions in an
autobiographical way. Feel free to do this as and
when it suits you.
According to Dr. Thomas Verny, a psychiatrist
and pioneer in the field of prenatal and birth
psychology: Findings in the peer-reviewed
literature over the course of decades establish,
beyond any doubt, that parents have overwhelming
influence on the mental and physical attributes of
the children they raise. This influence
begins before the children are born, not after. In
his groundbreaking book, The Secret Life of
the Unborn Child he states further:
New research is also beginning to focus much
more on the father's feelings. Until recently his
emotions were disregarded. Our latest studies
indicate that this view is dangerously wrong. They
show that how a man feels about his wife and unborn
child is one of the single most important factors
in determining the success of a
Walk a Mile in Dads Shoes
Another useful insight to consider is where your
father was coming from, literally. He may not have
had the best relationship with his father. This may
have affected the way he was with you and your
There were eight of us in my family. We were as
much a team as a family. I learned about
relationships and co-operation from an early age.
My father, Jim, was the friendliest man I have ever
known. In our home town, as he drove down the
street, he would wave to virtually everyone who
went past. He did not necessarily know each person,
it was just his nature. His friendliness, however,
was not always experienced by his own family.
In the early years my father was very involved
in our family. He engaged in play and evening
activities; baths and bedtime. However, as our
numbers increased and we got older, we moved from
the farm where I had grown up and my father went to
work for his father. My grandfather had an
automobile dealership and my father was the service
manager. Although my grandfather was loving with
his grandchildren, he was persistently critical
towards my father. He belittled him constantly.
Anger was my grandfathers most common method
of communicating with him. This deeply affected my
dad. His resulting conduct in our family often
wavered between expressing his anger, toward his
children, and disappearing (physically and/or
emotionally) so he would do no
Their relationship had a knock-on effect, often
experienced literally by my siblings and me. When
my father dispensed discipline (aka corporal
punishment), it was often fuelled with his
frustration and resulting anger. This left us with
an experience of what I call a Fathers
Cloud over my family. The way in which my
father related to his children was affected by how
his father related to him. I also perceive that my
father felt insecure about his participation in our
family because of the harmful effects he caused at
times. It was this insecurity which resulted in his
As I reflect on my own fathering I recognize
that there were times when I would find ways to
disappear from my children. I would watch
television or find excuses to not participate with
them. Although this was mild in comparison, and
there was no aggression, I can sense the family
origins. For much of my childrens early
childhood I was a stay at home dad and was very
involved in their daily lives. However, I often
felt insecure about how to be with them.
The saving grace for my siblings and me was that
my father and mother were deeply in love. One
expression of that love was their love for their
children, which they gave us generously. My father
was a great and loving contributor to my life for
whom I am deeply grateful. He wanted to be a
good father and I think he did the best
he could with what he had inherited from his own
Know that your father was probably working with
what his father had given him. What characteristics
do you think you have inherited from your father
that have become part of your personal landscape?
Lets redefine family inheritance to include
matters of the heart and bequeath to our children
gifts of love and joy, strength and tenderness. Be
certain about what you want to pass on to your
children and make clear choices about that.
The Power of Choice
Some men face varying degrees of apprehension
about fathering. This can be because of their
personal experiences or perhaps a lack of
information. I have known two men who had
vasectomies at a young age because of their
personal fears about the possibility of
becoming their father. They were not
going to risk doing to another what had been done
to them. The nature of their particular action was
radical to say the least. They did not know how to
unlearn what their fathers taught them
and they did not trust themselves. They thought
they had no choice. Rest assured, you do.
This raises the question, will I become like my
father? If you had a great dad who did everything
you could hope for to support you and provide you
with ideal fathering you would, more likely than
not, follow a similar direction with your own
children. You would carry out the fathering
training you had received. If you are trained as an
accountant, you do accounting and you do it the way
you were taught, with variations of course. This
ideal father scenario is not always the case. Many
of us had an upbringing by our fathers that was
lacking in a variety of ways. This could have
included ambivalence, neglect, disapproval,
physical and/or emotional abuse, disrespect and
Even if your father disappeared early on, or was
absent in other ways like mine, that action and
others had an effect on you. You made decisions
about fathering as a result of how you were
fathered. You may not be aware of these decisions
because often they are held in the subconscious
mind. When you are becoming a father, these
unconscious patterns can surface. If they do,
typically one of two things will happen. One
possibility is that you pass them on to your
children, through unconscious behavior. Another is
that you bring them into your conscious awareness
and work on resolving them so this does not happen.
Shortly, you will be provided with various tools to
help you move past such challenges. You can then
make decisions, in awareness, and have more choices
about how you are with your children.
In a counseling session I received years ago I
uncovered an unresolved issue from when I was a
teenager. There was this great black and chrome
motorcycle that I wanted. Since quite young I
delivered newspapers and did odd jobs for money. I
was good at saving money so I could afford the
motorcycle and I really, really wanted it. My
parents had forbidden me to purchase the
motorcycle. I argued but to no avail. I was angry
and felt controlled by them.
During the course of my session I released my
long held upset. For all of the years in between I
had no conscious recall of my hurt. In the session
I also became aware that my parents were acting out
of love, for my safety. They were concerned I would
be injured, or worse. My original interpretation
had been quite different. I had felt helpless and
powerless at the time and thought that it was not
fair. What followed the session was my calling
them, in an emotional state, and expressing my
gratitude for all they had done for me throughout
my life. They were a bit confused by the call yet
grateful; the gift of their love was being
received. I did not mention the motorcycle as that
was my issue, not theirs. What was important was
that I had removed an unconscious barrier I had to
loving them more fully. There could now be more
love experienced between us.
This event may not seem paramount; however it
was unresolved for me. Many of us have issues to
contend with regarding our upbringing. We can learn
to resolve them, dissipate our attachment to them,
and thus their residual effect on us. Tremendous
freedom is available to us when we let go of old
emotional baggage. We all have the ability to heal
past injuries and move on.
We can learn how to turn what looks like a
liability into an asset, a true gift. Using
affirmations, attending classes and reading,
speaking with your parents and counseling can all
help you to resolve past negative influences. We
have the option to truly receive the gifts from our
fathers, in love. He may not have known that he had
a choice or the support to make one, as you do. You
have the possibility to do your fathering exactly
how you want to.
There is a saying that a mans children and
his garden both reflect the amount of weeding done
during the growing season. Affirmations can work
similarly to weeding your garden. They help you to
thin out undesirable thoughts, which took root at
an earlier time. As you use an affirmation negative
thoughts or feelings can be brought to the surface,
like weeds to be removed. The affirmation then
takes root, as a new positive thought. Affirmations
help you to reframe your experiences, and any
decisions you made about them, and start fresh.
Affirmations should always state what you want,
as opposed to what you do not want. For example,
I am a good father, rather than,
I do not want to be a bad father.
Research shows our mind does not integrate
not, and tends to not hear
it. Reread the second statement above, leaving out
the not, and you will understand the importance of
this detail. I encourage you to embrace
affirmations and the support they can give you in
Work with one affirmation at a time. Choose one,
write it, pause
take a breath
listen in for a response and write out
the response. Allow yourself to be open to any
response; thoughts, feelings or sensations in your
body. If you do not detect a response after a
pause, simply write the affirmation again and
continue. Resist any temptation to
censor your responses to the
affirmation. Then pause, take a breath and write
the affirmation again, and your response, and
again. Repeat the exploration over and over. There
is no prescribed number. Notice how you feel and
what you are thinking. Your response could be the
same each time; however it will typically evolve
and change. Be patient. Here are some sample
affirmations for you to use for the transition to
I always know how to best support my partner and
I always know how to best support myself.
This is the perfect time for a new baby to come
into my life.
I am the perfect father for my child.
I am a capable and gifted father.
My partner is safe.
My baby is safe.
I trust myself.
Birth is safe
I am safe.
You could work with one affirmation for minutes,
hours or days. This is a process which develops. As
your responses change you may be inspired to modify
or alter the affirmation or shift to a wholly new
affirmation. Engage with an open mind so as to
inspire a new way of thinking about yourself and
your fathering. You could also work together with
your partner on this and encourage her to use
affirmations to support her mothering.
I also recommend you assign affirmations to your
mind. Choose a phrase to hold mentally and to
repeat regularly throughout the day. This is also
very effective at improving your daily outlook in
There are numerous opportunities throughout this
book which will reveal affirmations for you to
utilize. I encourage you to explore the benefit of
using affirmations regularly. Often the more you
use a particular tool, the better you get at
working with it. Over the years, I have known
people who completely transformed their lives
through the use of affirmations alone. Affirmations
are true Power Tools.
Many years ago I worked with a client named
John. He told me that he had hated his father all
of his life. John was committed to never having
children as a result of the abuse he had received
from his father. Johns relationship with his
father was a burning issue for him, which was why
he came to me. I mentioned the value of
forgiveness, for him personally as well as his
relationship with his father. He was not the least
Johns session was powerful and deep. His
father featured strongly. During the session he
released a significant amount of anger and,
ultimately, felt some sadness regarding his
relationship with his father. Near the end of his
session I asked him if he could forgive his father
for the way he had treated him. His response was,
Never. I then asked if he would be
willing to consider forgiving his father at some
point in the future. He said, Not a
chance. So, I then inquired if he would
consider that at some time in the future he might
be willing to think about the possibility of
forgiving his father. Ill think about
it, was his answer, with a very slight grin.
This was a successful first step, for John. We all
need to start where we are.
If you had a great father, who you felt
participated brilliantly in your life, then
fathering may come naturally to you. There may also
have been unloving aspects of your relationship
with your dad. This could cause you to create a
Fathers Cloud around your participation with
your children. It could also prevent you from
feeling welcome and capable in your role as a
father. Forgiveness can work wonders toward healing
Forgiveness clears the slate. It takes you out
of the blame and resentment games that are common
if you are holding something against another. It
frees up your mind, your energy and your capacity
to love and be loved.
Healing begins the moment we make a new choice.
Forgiving is one such choice. An important element
of forgiveness can include forgiving yourself. You
may be holding something against yourself;
resolving it is important and forgiveness can help.
Do you have any unresolved issues with your
partner, or a partner from the past? Now is a good
time to clean up any relationship history you may
have. Unresolved past events can be burdensome and
cause stress which you may or may not be aware of.
Forgiveness is an important element of
You may wish to explore through
contemplation or by writing the affirmations,
I forgive my father and I forgive
my father for
. Also, I forgive my
mother or anyone else who emerges as having
had a significant influence in your life. Explore
with awareness and sensitivity. Try, I
forgive myself. Write the phrase then pause
and listen for a response and then write whatever
you hear, think or feel. This will allow a clearing
effect in your mind and emotions. Repeat as
necessary and vary the phrases as you are moved to,
i.e. I forgive myself for
I forgive myself for something I did or did
If we are willing to work our way through anger,
judgments and resentments we can find the love.
Often, people who act less than kind in their words
and actions do so because they feel insecure,
afraid or inadequate. They are often making a cry
for help and want to heal but do not know how to.
Many people who have been hurt tend to go on and
hurt others, until they decide to break the cycle
and choose to love themselves and others.
Forgiveness is the key to happiness, as
A Course in Miracles says.5
Expanding gratitude can also be powerful at this
time. Gratitude for your partner is most obvious.
And of course gratitude for this magnificent child
who has come to grace your life and love you
A friend of mine, Terry, received a phone call
from her sister who had been on holiday.
Terrys sister told her that she had purchased
a gift for her and would give it to her when they
next met. Terry immediately expressed heart-felt
gratitude to her sister. Terry had not yet received
the gift nor did she even know what it was. She
was, however, already receiving an aspect of the
gift, which was the love it represented.
Gratitude is a gift we offer to the giver and
one that we receive as well. Gratitude usually
causes everyone to feel good too. Expressing
gratitude, whether you are actually experiencing it
yet or not, can clear the way to feeling grateful.
Gratitude for the non-physical gifts in our life is
most powerful. This may include: people, love,
health, trust, beauty, nature, art, music and more.
Recall for a moment a time in your life when you
were really grateful. It is a glorious feeling, a
state of grace. Be willing to embrace all of your
life experiences in gratitude knowing that they can
be of value, especially the tough ones.
Expressing gratitude for your father can create
a huge sense of freedom, especially at this time.
Gratitude opens us to truly receiving the gifts we
have been given. If your father is available, now
would be a great time to express gratitude to him
directly. Be willing to free yourself of past
negative influences. A profound deepening of the
relationship between father and son is possible
during this time.
This provides another opportunity to use
affirmations and clear the way for you to become
more aware of the good in your life. I am
grateful for my father, I am grateful
for everything my father has given me,
I am grateful for my child. Just
imagine how much you have to be grateful for. Be
patient, breathe in between phrases and be creative
with the process.
Through your inner preparation you can learn to
integrate the gifts from your father, even if they
did not have a lovely appearance or effect. If we
are free of past influences and present to the joy
in our lives now, more freedom is the inevitable
result. We only need to awaken our awareness of it.
This will prepare you well for the journey you have
begun into fatherhood.
* * *
Houser is a father and a grandfather. His second
son's arrival was the first waterbirth in the U.S.
This led him into nearly 25 years of support for
both choices and working with parents. He has
gained wide experience from various fields
including a degree in marketing, owning a
construction firm and a natural health centre.
Patrick is a Life Coach and co-founder of
Fathers-To-Be, a new concept in antenatal
education, for men. Fathers-To-Be also offers
consulting and training for health service
These articles are excerps from his book
Handbook: A road map for the transition
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