Conversation Our Fathers Never Had

What We Can Learn From Them?

Your father did the best he could with what he had. This simple truth holds a profound depth. Being a father is no easy task. It demands a tremendous investment of time, emotion, and energy. The role of a father is an intricate dance of love, sacrifice, and perseverance. Despite the challenges, it is through his commitment that you have become the man you are today.

Fatherhood is a journey filled with highs and lows, triumphs and tribulations. Your father, like many, navigated this path with the tools he had available. These tools were often shaped by the norms and expectations of his time. While you’ve inherited many strengths from him, you’ve also encountered some weaknesses.

In our fathers’ era, men rarely had the opportunity to engage in deep, introspective work. Societal norms often discouraged men from expressing vulnerability or seeking help.

Today, MDI encourages men to break free from these outdated paradigms

MDI provides safe, confidential spaces where men can confront their pain and begin the healing process. This work is crucial in ensuring that the wounds of the past are not passed down to future generations.

In my private practice, I’ve observed a recurring pattern: men often subconsciously inherit their fathers’ beliefs and behaviors around sex, intimacy, and relationships. These inherited patterns can be deeply ingrained, influencing how men interact with their partners and what they pass down to future generations. Many men missed out on healthy, supportive communication on these topics from their fathers.

This lack of open communication on these topics creates distance and disconnection between us and our partners. It prevents the development of deep, meaningful relationships and fosters a sense of isolation. Worse, when facing a challenge in these areas fear, guilt, shame, and anger can quickly surface, leading to avoidance, suppression, and resignation. This perpetuates a cycle of emotional disconnection and misunderstanding.

So, what can we learn from the conversations we didn’t have with our fathers? First and foremost, we must start having these conversations. It’s about opening up, even if it’s just to check in and show willingness to talk. The act of initiating a conversation can be a powerful step towards breaking the cycle of silence. Sometimes, a simple, “How are you feeling about X?” can open the door to deeper dialogue.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, we must do the personal work to break these generational cycles of misinformation and misunderstanding. This work involves examining our own beliefs and behaviors, seeking to understand where they come from and how they impact our lives.

It requires courage and vulnerability to confront our own shortcomings and strive to become better men

You were never taught how to have these conversations. As a man you were taught that you have to be strong, you to have all the answers to be a good partner. However, much of our identity and ego is tied up in these roles, making such discussions daunting. It’s challenging to admit that we don’t have all the answers, that we too struggle with doubts and fears.

So I ask you what would it take for you to bring this up at your next men’s team meeting? To reach out to a professional for support? Or even have a heart-to-heart with your partner(s)? These steps may seem intimidating, but they are essential for fostering healthier relationships and personal well-being.

This is why I developed what is called the MenAndMastery Seminar series, an online four-session series where we will help men:

  1. Understand Your Sexual Health
  2. Communicate & Connect in Relationships – not just romantic, but family, business, etc.
  3. Overcome Intimacy Challenges
  4. Navigate Sexuality in Midlife

As a primer to the MenAndMastery seminar series, let’s consider some practical strategies for initiating a conversation with your partner, for example.

First, create a safe space for dialogue. This can be as simple as choosing a quiet, comfortable setting where both parties feel at ease. Start with open-ended questions that invite sharing, such as, “What’s been on your mind lately?” or “How do you feel about our relationship?”

Active listening is crucial. Pay attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues. Show empathy and understanding, and avoid interrupting or offering unsolicited advice. Sometimes, just being heard is incredibly healing.

Share your own experiences and feelings. This can help to normalize the conversation and make the other person feel less alone. Be honest about your struggles and the steps you’re taking to address them. This vulnerability can build trust and encourage others to open up.

It’s also important to recognize that these conversations are ongoing. One discussion won’t solve everything, but it can pave the way for more open and honest communication in the future. Be patient and persistent. Change takes time, but every step forward is progress.

We should honor our fathers for all they did for us. Despite their limitations and the societal constraints they faced, they did their best. It’s in their honor that we strive to grow, learn, and evolve. By doing so, we not only improve our own lives but also create a better future for our children.

Reflect on the legacy you want to leave behind. What values and behaviors do you want to pass on to the next generation? How can you ensure that your children inherit a legacy of love, understanding, and emotional resilience?

Let’s face it – the journey of fatherhood is complex and multifaceted. It’s shaped by the interplay of personal experiences, societal expectations, and generational patterns. By acknowledging the sacrifices our fathers made and the challenges they faced, we can better understand where we are on our own journey.

Remember, it’s never too late to start this journey. Each step you take towards healing and growth has the potential to transform your life and the lives of those around you. Embrace this opportunity with courage and compassion, and watch as your relationships and personal well-being flourish.

Sexologist, Dr. Stephen de Wit has been a member of MDI for over a decade and has been instrumental in the evolution of the Legacy Discovery Weekend. Committed to normalizing the conversations around sex, intimacy and relationships, he supports men in his private practice and speaking engagements throughout North America. His most recent initiative is the Men and Mastery seminar series live online that he is making available to all men. More here: menandmastery.com and on Instagram here: @menandmastery

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