I was part of it. I didnt know what I was part of but the transition was very real and appears to still reverberate to this day. Like many I was one of the first generations to be overtly and purposely influenced by television. Now of course the influence of television has been mastered and marketing executives, producers of commercials and the like rival any of the pioneers in the field of psychology. We arent even disappointed anymore when the burger we order looks nothing like that mouth-watering meal in a fist flashed between an episode of our favorite sit-com, nor do we question why out of no where we suddenly desire pizza with every meat topping available. The persuasion is real. No this is not another food blog or fast food review.
What I, and many others, have been unconsciously a part of is the removal of fathers from the home. I wont call it a conspiracy. There isnt some council of women sitting around an oak table, tablets at the ready and pitching ideals in plotting the demise of fathers. In fact fathers are as much a part of the issue of fatherlessness as anyone. We were busy. Most fathers are working to provide. Many fathers, and step-fathers, embrace their role as provider they missed the first steps of their child, the first dangling tooth, and not to mention many baseball games, school plays or parent-teacher conferences. In this civilized western culture the first order of a fathers business is to provide for their families. A noble and worthy perspective.
Then it happened. It wasn’t sudden or swift, but the shift was certainly under way. Television families created to depict and reflect the typical American family changed. The American television family as representatives of values, morality and all things good in the United States of America shifted. We went from Ward Cleaver teaching life lessons to the Beaver and we humming the jaunty jingle for Fathers Knows Best to Make Room for Daddy and Julia, there wasnt even a father cast in those episodes. Of the television shows featuring a father he was typically the bumbling Rob Petri of the Dick Van Dyke Show or the forever one-step behind in figuring out their teenagers of Hazel, The Patty Duke Show or Giget. Sorry, Im trying to demonstrate a shift in television broadcasting not a review of old TV shows. Perhaps we were all caught up in the shift from Black and White TV to the new Techni-color so as not to notice the real influence on the psyche. Then came the 70’s and the 80’s when fathers in the home became the bigoted Archie Bunker and his Black reflection George Jefferson. Also a spawn of the 80’s, everyone’s beloved father Heathcliff Huxtable of the Cosby’s as comic relief to his family and Ray of Everybody Loves Raymond both needing the sensible and steadying force of the mother/wife to fix the calamity they each caused in their homes. If art does in fact reflect reality fathers have become obsolete. The single parent households headed by mothers is all that’s really necessary to raise children to maturity. If television fathers are any indication of the male parenting role within the dynamics of the family no wonder we are where we are as a culture. But, where are we?
There are countless children being reared in home that do not feature a father. In many instances in which father is present he is emotionally disconnected from the lives of his children. His children are suffering the many traverses of development like a sailing boat with one sail. To continue the sailing analogy, yes the boat will reach its destination, adulthood. The journey is rough and long going without the larger main sail of father to catch hold of big winds that move us swiftly through high waters. The smaller sails, mother, provide a steadying force, keep us upright but cant grab the big gusts propelling children forward and through the big waves. Mothers do a phenomenal job of keeping their children steady through treacherous seas. Without a father’s appropriate influence many children become stuck out at sea, afloat but seemingly going no where. We see it everyday in children treading water, putting forth great effort to simply breath but never reaching dry land; destination, full maturity. These arent just children, many adults remain stuck at half maturity proficient at treading water and perhaps not even realizing there is a destination to be achieved.
I work with children, young and older, everyday cast out at sea treading water. I work with their parents also treading water to stay afloat. Its become so prominent as to be normalized. I work in a system that often disregards fathers. Currently the absence of fathers is so prevalent its often overlooked. Many children caught in the netting of mental health services are so because there is no other way to address the under current of absent fathers. To be sure there are those in need of treatment, but I estimate far more than half need to resolve issues of fatherlessness. Its become generational as I probe the parents to understand their parental relationships to assess family dynamic and culture. More than why do your children believe what they believe but how did they come to believe these things about themselves and life. Spiritual Family Guidance is created to facilitate this healing.
I work with children, adolescents and teenagers “lost” at sea and growing weary while treading the waters of fatherlessness. I work with fathers who themselves were never fathered and recreating their experience of fatherlessness in their children. I work with mothers not fathered and creating families with no experience of the influence of fathers.
Poor choices, angry outbursts, opposition and defiance, substance abuse, overt sadness and lacking in motivation are all reflective of a fatherless experience. Early sexual encounters, poor self-esteem, failing grades are a result of family dysfunction. Failing relationships, the inability to commit, and a general over all feeling of sadness can be resolved. Reunification with family members, when appropriate and available, and the issues surrounding chaotic and inconsistent parenting can be addressed outside the confines and restrictions of the mental health system.
Transformative Spirituality is about connecting to one’s truth. One’s history goes unchanged while the emotional implications that alter our view, see ourselves through and infuse our experiences can be.