Father’s Hold On And Throw Another Log On The Fire

Recently I was asked how and what fathers actually do. I decided to write about it and share with you that I’ve spent the last 15 years exploring, working on myself, and pushing myself to understand more.

A father brings life to a child. A mother carries the child and grows the child while the father tries to support, nurture, and give space while this metamorphosis takes place. While this happens a man can notice true love growing. I know as I saw it myself with my wife and our third child. I’m sure I’d seen it with the first two pregnancies, however; being such a consumed worker and I must have lost sight of many things. I saw my wife holding her belly smiling, and looking at one of the trees on our property. I thought to myself then and there I understood love and the power it contains.

Providing for a father means many things. Provide nurturing, provide peace for a family to grow, provide comfort for a partner grow, and supporting with love regardless if it’s emotional, intellectual, physical, financial or simply with time. A father never let’s go and they never stop throwing wood on the fire. A job can let you go, fire you, hire you, promote you, provide for you, trust you, however; it can not love you back. It can take and take and take until it doesn’t want to take any more and then it can spit you out and leave you alone wondering why or why did one even do it to begin with. We’ve all either had a job, lost a job, didn’t get hired for a job, or watch our kids and wonder what and when will they start working and dreaming about what they will bring to the world.

I now sit with the world ahead of me, with the work waiting, with my own wife and children’s questions, looking at my own successes and failures as I scratch my head as ponder the most effective way to parent.

A wise woman once told me that children have all the answers in the world. It’s not hard to see when you watch a child under a mobile dreaming about their next meal, next nap, or next smile. I would try to watch before I left for work, however; I’m not sure it really sunk in. As I continued to “provide” for my family I was pulled more and more to travel, lead, share, and design better models for the treatment and care of those in immediate need of care.

I made a choice as a young man in graduate school in the mid ’90s to change the field of social work. I saw the problems from the inner city of Boston and how the nonprofit world did all they could, however; the environments children returned to left many feeling hopeless and overrun. Some of my early clients during these years have ended up in jail, dead, murdered, overdosed, and also lost to the point they have taken their own lives. Several of my early clients also found peace, harmony, and great success in their life.

Parents tend to wonder how or why clinical work with adolescents and young adults is so important. The process can be challenging and confusing at times, however; through the trust and commitment real shifts can occur. Here is an example:

Years ago a client of mine tested me to the point of where an even more intense inpatient treatment center may have been needed. He pushed the envelop so far that I decided to put him on a talking ban with me and in essence fired him from our therapy sessions. This was a drastic attempt to get his attention as I’d seen how his intellect and physical attributes had allowed him to manipulate and navigate untouched through the treatment process. The teenager at the time had lost himself in his own avoidance, his family’s understanding, and didn’t know which direction to turn. I thought it would take a week. I returned four days later and nodded at him. I returned 6 days later and he nodded at me. This pattern continued for three weeks. The entire process was collapsing around me as his parents, my company, the consultant who referred the child all began to wonder if, how, and why this would work. I asked they trust me and trust their son as it seemed it was what he needed.

On the third week, I walked by him and looked again at him and he welcomed me to sit down. He said, “I wanted to thank you for your assignment. I have learned a great deal and I am so thankful to have met you. I know you aren’t going to like what I’m about to say, so please just let me say it and then we can move on. We’ve known each other a long time now and I wanted to give you a compliment. You told me a few months ago that one day I’d look in a mirror again and be able to thank myself for the hard work and dedication I showed. You told me not to thank you and you were wrong. You should be thanked and you are a wonderful Licensed Clinical Social Worker, in fact, I think you may be the greatest.”

I smiled and looked back at him glad to be hearing him speak. “Well that just means I got you to do your own work, so thank you, however; you as you thought I’d say you did all the work and I just provided you the space to find yourself, a kick in the pants when you needed it and the first high five possible when I saw you being real.”

With that, he shrugged and we walked on. Soon he graduated from our program and moved onto college. I learned about a year or so ago that he graduated from college and was off to his future. I teared up when I got that graduation card as I didn’t even know they knew how to find me anymore as I’d left the program he attended years ago. I remember what he said to me all those years ago and the pride in his own eyes.

I thought back to our talks and his interpretation of my lessons and I realized what I always knew, children are the answer and parents have to learn how best to follow, hold, contain, balance, provide, and accept their kids for who they are, not who they want them to be. I realized yet again that children are the future and without our guidance and our ability to follow our future remains as it’s always been, stuck and often without understanding.

Love the children you have not the ones you dreamt of having or even wanted them to be like. I never wanted a certain type of child, I just dreamt of being a dad and providing a safe home for my wife and children to grow and flourish. I thought regardless of the cost that’s the most important thing in the world. Now as I wrap up this article I realize how wrong I was.

A father never gives up. A father will always throw another log on the fire, and a father will admit when he’s wrong and submit to what he believes in. I myself as a professional who spends most waking hours a day supporting others do so every night and every day and still am unclear if I’m doing the right or wrong thing to support those I care for the most.

I’m going to wrap my entry now and go home to have dinner with my wife and daughters. I’m going to leave my phone off, I’m going to watch them, I’m going to be present, and I’m going to ask them more about their day’s than I share about mine. I’m lucky they aren’t older and I still have a chance. I encourage those dads reading this who feel they no longer do to try again. If that’s not an option I respect that encourage you to add another log to the next campfire you see. Allow yourself to heal as you watch it burn and remember you continue to have a chance to share and provide fuel for another.