The Commodity of Fatherhood

Imagine possessing a great resource, one which much of the world is hungry to own. This resource is essential for growth, yet becoming rarer with each passing year, as if the sun began to lose its heat. Although it would seem that it is bountiful, what most people find when they receive it is something which only resembles, and often betrays.

To be a good-enough father, particularly today, is quite uncommon.

We all know the devastating effects of fatherlessness, many have experienced it, while all have watched its consequences take hold around them. Robert Bly, in his book “Iron John”, says that we live in a time with ‘not enough father’. He goes on to say that “father is a substance like salt, which in earlier times was occasionally in short supply, or like groundwater, which in some areas now has simply disappeared….’father water’ in the home has sunk below the reach of most wells.”

You have a rare and precious commodity in simply being who you are. This isn’t to say it is easy to be a father, there are many things that cause us to pull back from offering this resource to those we love, but it is worth the work it takes to give it away. Many of us struggle to even know we have it in us, thinking that our failures, abuses or neglects, or self-doubt inhibit us from fully tapping into it. Neither is fatherhood limited to biology. I have been ‘fathered’ by men young and old, married, divorced and single, with and without children to raise in their own home. To father someone is to simply offer them the tenderness and strength of your masculinity, to guide them along their own path, and to offer your self more than your opinion or advice.

Fatherhood is as much joy as it is sorrow, as much toil as it is delight. It will never come easy, your own wounds, insecurities, and fears prevent it from being as such. My call to you men is to engage your fathering with more tenacity than you do your career. The world needs far more loving dad’s and proud papa’s than it does successful men in the workplace. To raise daughter’s and son’s into men and women who know what it is to be fiercely loved, strongly held, and deeply delighted in is your greatest work and most profound achievement. You have what it takes, even on your bad days, to do this well enough. Pursue it wholeheartedly.