October 6, 2015

Father Hunger, Son Hunger, Two Songs, and the Father Wound

NOTE: I'm still recovering from traveling in Spain. So here is one more post from the archive.

I was in a men's circle last night. It was a meeting for men interested in working with young males. To help men get anchored in the teenage male experience, they were asked, "As a teen, who were the men who were, or were not, there to support you?" It was a rich conversation and, as is always the case, men learned that when we speak our "truth," when we are real with each other, we are all way more alike than different.

As a teen, who were the men
who were, or were not,
there to support you?

One of the common themes that showed up in the conversation was about the father who was physically present but emotionally distant: workaholic, alcoholic, womanizing, angry, sometimes abusive, and/or a man without any skills for intimate connection. One man labelled him a ghost father, visible, but was not really there. For some men, it felt more confusing, painful and damaging than having a father who just left, leaving a fatherless boy.

These men, sometimes teary, talked about the profound longing for time and connection with their dad, the most important male in a young man's life. They described how, without this man's guidance and direction, it was so easy for a life to take a wrong turn. Each man, in different ways, and for different reasons, spoke to deep father hunger that was never satisfied, and the wound they have carried into adulthood as a result.

Daddy, where are you?

The film clip below is titled Papaoutai and performed by a Belgian singer named Stromae. It was sent to me by a brother in mission, Andrew MacDonald, who lives near Ottawa, Canada. Loosely translated, Papaoutai means, Daddy, where are you? I don't speak the language of the song, but no matter, its message is painfully clear.

In countless young guy circles, I've heard "Daddy, where are you?" asked many times by so many young men . . . too many young men. It's at the literal heart of what I often call "the epidemic of under-male-nourished boys." Men and young men carrying this kind of father wound may find Papaoutai hard to watch, especially the ending.

If this clip doesn't show up use this link.

As almost a direct counterpoint to Papaoutai, I want to offer up another song. This one comes from the other direction, a song about a father hungry for time with his son. Mark Chandler, in his song Making A Man, is speaking out for so many good men cut off from their sons by life's circumstances. Mark is a military officer approaching retirement. It's been difficult to get time with his son because for three of the last eight years, Mark has been deployed. On top of that, he's been divorced for the last four years.

Mark feels the core message of the song is it takes a man to make a man, and it's what "poured out of him" when he was longing for time with his son. Again, for men and young men carrying a father wound, Mark's longing, love, and commitment, as expressed in this song, may dampen your eyes.

If this clip doesn't show up use this link.

To connect with Mark Chandler, visit his Facebook page.

These songs represent two very different and profoundly deep calls for connection between fathers and sons. When that bond is broken, everyone suffers. What's left for us to do is to support men and young men who've been damaged in that unique way. Today, in so many ways, we're paying the social costs of not offering that support. We can do better and we must.

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