Many of the dads in my Fathers’ Forum program have been having dreams at night about not being able to protect their children or family from danger. Both in the dad’s group I facilitate and in my private sessions, there has been a marked unsettledness that these dreams have been causing. How important is our night time dreaming and what does it tell us?
We all experience night time dreams about being late for a plane flight or not having our homework done for a class. These are the usual anxiety dreams we all experience. They are classic dreams from our personal unconscious about worrying about being prepared. There are many personal themes that occur in dreams that often reflect issues we are struggling with in our daily lives. Through our personal dreams, we may be able to understand things that are challenging us in our current situations.
But what does it mean when a group of people, in this case, dads all start to share dreams around a similar theme? To me, these dreams of not being able to protect your children or family are expressing a collective fear.
What is this collective fear about?
I am wondering if this “collective unsettledness” as I call it is reflecting a feeling these dads are having about our President. The President is our collective symbol for “father.” What happens in a family when the father appears emotionally unstable or unpredictable?
Emotional distress and worry occur in families where the father is unstable or unpredictable. It is obvious in families with alcoholic dads but also angry fathers or depressed dads can lead to children being preoccupied with feelings of fear about their security. Disruption in regular routines, having to deal with bizarre or reckless behavior all create uncertainty and instability for children and family members. Financial stresses, strained marital or family relationships, changes in family roles all lead to worrying concerns that our lives are not safe. Difficulty in maintaining relationships outside the family also leads to worry and insecurity for all concerned.
So my question is, are these dads experiencing dreams of danger and worry because our President is acting in ways that feel unstable to them? Is the President creating an unstable or unpredictable social climate for them to feel safe?
Is their unsettling dreaming reflecting a collective fear that we are living in a country (family) where the normal routines are changing in a way that is creating a fearful environment and they are experience their deeper worries of not being able , as “fathers” being able to keep their own families safe? How much effect does our President (father of our country), have on our individual fathering?
As Sigmund Freud wrote, reflecting on the role of the father in the family,
“I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”
What happens to us as dads when we feel insecure and concerned about the competency of our elected President? Do these collections of dreams I am hearing in my psychotherapy practice tells us anything more than the individuals who are having them?
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