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Take a breath and take a moment to remember your father’s touch. What did that question mean to you? Did you go to his hands, his words, his life? All of us are here only by coming through our fathers. How we were held by our fathers is part of our self definition. How we were touched is different for every person. The kicker is that we live in a culture which threatens young boys with shame if they are gentle. Boys who are kind and experience vulnerability are commonly rejected as weak. As a result many men were intimidated out of gentle touch long before they became fathers.
What do you know about your dad’s dad? How was your father touched by his? This question connects directly to your memory of your father’s touch. Your grandfather’s touch has been handed down to you through your father. Tender, rough, abusive, absent, our fathers have extended their childhoods and their fathers’ touch into and through us.
If you don’t know about your grandfather, ask your father. “How did your father touch you?” When we ask about their intimacy, how they shared touch, we can use that understanding with our children. If our fathers we’re held well by our grandfathers, then that has been passed along. If our fathers were held at a distance, pushed aside or ignored, some part of that has come to us through our fathers. Our children are steadily receiving our fathers’ touch.
Sitting quietly contemplating our father’s touch tells us immediately whether we got enough. If we did, our relationship with our children is rooted in that assurance. If we didn’t, there remains some element of fear which constricts the flow of love from us to our children. It may emerge as control, hesitation, isolation, anger. If we have brought a wound to our children from our fathers, we know it and feel it in our daily thoughts, feelings and interactions. Are our children are experiencing a legacy of emotional distance and discomfort in relationship to us? Take a breath and ask again about your father’s touch. If there is discomfort there rather than confidence and joy, you’ve got work to do.
Simply turning awareness to our father’s touch focuses on what we have retained and will use with our children as our nurturer’s legacy. If we didn’t get enough loving touch, whether physical, emotional or mental, we can use courage and wisdom now to heal our wounds and tend to any our children have inherited. So here’s the good news. We’re males, constructed in a way that does things, fixes, designs, operates. Here’s what you can “do”.
Ask this question
“How do you feel me in your heart?” Simple question. The answers will vary and change from moment to moment, life stage to life stage. Every child including you is made of awareness. This includes understanding of how we are held by our fathers hearts. This awareness is always operating. If there is confusion there, pain and urge to change will accompany that. Ask your child. Be a man who uses courage to be simultaneously vulnerable and powerful.
If your dad is still alive, and you desire to feel deeper love and connection, tell him you love him. And if you’re unsure, ask if he loves you.
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