Today you're going to learn about improving the relationship that you have with your father. Your relationship with your father has a massive impact on your sense of self as a man and your general level of self-confidence. And this exercise is going to be particularly easy for you if your father is still alive.
If he’s not still alive or you don’t have any contact with him, that’s going to be a little bit trickier. But this is primarily for guys whose fathers are still alive, and the idea here is that you go and connect with your father in a way that perhaps you haven’t done before.
If you’ve already got a great relationship with your father, that’s cool. If you see him regularly and you spend some one-on-one time with him, then that’s exactly what you want to be aiming for. But if you haven’t, here’s how to make that happen.
Before I go into it, though, it’s important to note that spending time with your father is not the same doing it alone as doing it with other people, particularly if your mother is around or other family members; it completely changes the dynamic, I find for me. When I get my father by himself, he’s quite a different person to what I experience when he’s under the thumb of my mother or around my sisters.
So how do you do this? Well, you start just by ringing your dad up and saying, “Hey dad, it’s” – you know, whatever your name is – “and I’d like to take you out to dinner and spend a bit of time with you. What do you think? When are you free?” And hopefully he’ll say yes. It’s kind of unlikely he’s going to say no. If he’s a bit evasive, he might be wondering, like, “What’s going on here?” if it hasn’t happened before.
But all you want to do is just take him out to dinner and just spend a bit of time with him. The important thing is to start by spending some quality time when you’re building a relationship with somebody that’s a little bit new to what you’ve had before, and this is going to be most important to you if your relationship with your father has been distant or emotionally disconnected or unrewarding to you.
If you found that relationship problematic and a cause of stress, pain or hurt for you, then this is one way to start taking some steps towards rectifying that.
It’s important not to put big expectations on your father. If you haven’t got from him what you felt you needed as a kid or as adult, then it’s a little unlikely that he’s going to suddenly change now and start dolling out whatever it is that you’ve been missing. Although on the flip side, when you connect with him you may find that some of what you've been missing has actually been there or maybe he can give you some of the things that you’re looking for.
But really the main important reason for doing this is just to learn how to connect with your father on a much deeper level than what you’re used to doing in the past.
Our relationship with our father tends to set the pattern for our relationship with other men generally, so this is a great little exercise to do. As I said before, it’s obviously tricky if your father’s not alive or if you don’t have contact with him. I’d encourage you if you don’t have contact with him, this could be a great opportunity to re-establish that on a new basis.
Often if we haven’t had contact with someone for a while, when we reconnect with them, we have the opportunity to re-establish the sort of relationship that we would like to have rather than whatever default relationship pattern we were falling into before.
Calling your father when you haven’t seen him in a long time and saying “Hey, I’d just like to see you” is a great idea. Once again, most parents love hearing this kind of stuff from their adult children. That song Cats in The Cradle really springs to mind about how much fathers really love to spend time with their sons, and often it’s us that’s been too busy to hang out with them once we became an adult. As a child, it may have been them too busy to hang out with us, but as an adult the dynamic tends to flip around the other way.
Okay, so what do you do if your father is no longer with us, if he’s dead? Or you completely can’t even get contact with him? In that case, I recommend you still do this but just pick another father figure in your environment, someone around you in your social circle, somebody older than you.
Find other men that you can connect with, particularly other older men that maybe have some of the wisdom that you might be able to benefit from, and say, “Hey, would you like to go grab dinner some time?” Just start having a talk to them and just talk to them a little bit about life. Find out what they’re lives are about, ask them about them first and generally when we do that people are then receptive to them asking about us and before you know it we end up with what’s called relating.
I recommend get in touch with your father if he’s still alive. If not, find another man who you can go connect with. And get in touch with that sort of masculine essence that men have that we can learn from and we can then learn to develop in ourselves that ultimately ends up leading us to feel more grounded in our sense of masculinity and our self-confidence.