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Man to Man
posted March 2, 2009
Wayne Levine answers letters from men
He feels like an
I have a beautiful, healthy four-year-old son. And although I should be
beside myself with joy, what I’m feeling is a lot of pain. I just don’t
know what I’m doing sometimes. I struggle to find the right way to
react to him, to teach him, and even to have fun with him. I feel like
an awful father, which shouldn’t be a big surprise because my own
father was not great and left me and my mom when I was just four
myself. How can I get through this and be the dad I want to be?
Dad in Pain
When you don’t know how to run a software program, you take a class or
read a book and you learn. When you’re assembling a piece of furniture,
you don’t just start hammering and nailing. You read the instructions
and you take it step by step. So what does a guy do to learn how to be
a confident, loving, and strong father? It’s not so easy to figure out,
as you’ve experienced.
Without a good role model, it may be more difficult for us to trust our
paternal instincts. But let me assure you, that father that you want to
be, it’s inside of you. You just don’t know it yet.
There are some books available that may help you to connect your head
with your instincts. Go to the library or bookstore and start reading.
But perhaps the most effective way to learn how to father, is to get
the fathering you never had. It’s not too late.
At the West Coast Men’s Center, we teach men to father each other so
that these dads can go home and be the fathers they want and need to be
for their kids.
You’re not the only guy around who had a lousy father and you’re
certainly not the only young dad who’s frustrated and feeling
ill-equipped and overwhelmed.
Reach out to other men. Join a men’s group. Ask for help and, I assure
you, you’ll get it. As you bring the wisdom you receive from the men
home to your son, you’ll slowly but assuredly become that better dad.
Be patient and don’t quit. You’re son is counting on you.
just not fitting in with his college crowd.
I’m 20 and a college student. It’s always been hard for me to fit in
with the other guys. I’ve tried to “be the man” with them when we hang
out in bars. But it’s just not me. The other guys seem to have such a
great time. Meanwhile, I go back to my apartment feeling crappy and
lonely. What can I do to fit in and to have a good time with these guys?
Dear Bummed Out,
As alone as you feel, you’re not alone with your feelings. They may not
let on, but a lot of the guys you see “enjoying themselves,” may not be
having the blast you imagine. The truth is, these young men grow up to
be older men, like the guys I work with at the men’s center, who have
always “played the game,” but never developed a true sense of who they
were as men. Now they feel lost.
As you get older, it becomes much more challenging to change your
habits and to be the man you always wanted to be. That’s why you are a
lucky man. This is the best time for you to build these muscles.
Rather than comparing yourself to others, start taking the time to
figure out what the man you want to be looks like. You see, inside,
you’re already that man. It’s just that the noise from peer pressure,
marketing, TV and movies, makes it hard for you to hear that voice
within. It’s time to start listening to that voice, so you can start
trusting that voice. That voice is you!
There’s nothing wrong with you. You just don’t like to do some of the
things the other guys are doing. Fine. What do you want to do? And
what’s in the way of you doing it? I suspect, whatever the obstacles,
they’re more imagined than real. It takes courage to be the man you
want to be. Now’s the time for you to experiment and to take some
risks. The rewards will be outstanding.
Wayne M. Levine, M.A.,
mentors men to be better men, husbands and fathers. Email your
questions to MantoMan@BetterMen.org. See how you can become a better man at www.BetterMen.org.
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