lundi, septembre 01, 2008

Re-imaging Dad

When I was young, I used to hear that pop song "take your passion and make it happen" and think-oh, how romantic. Now that I'm err... older, I realize that making it happen is sheer hard work.

Sometimes they start with a compliment. Sometimes the first approach is banal-I love your profile. The mating dance may also involve sexual innuendo-what is it you wear to bed? But if you get past that (and I'm losing patience with innuendo as an opening move), the conversation almost inevitably turns to children.

Custody. Arguments with the ex-spouse. Dinners in diners and hour long drives to school plays.

And what I've found, as I've spoke to divorced and separated dads, has saddened me.

Again and again, I've met fathers who seem adrift on an ocean of loss and confusion. Honestly, I don't know if they had a great working definition of dadhood before the divorce agreement. All I see is the quest for activities to fill those suddenly empty nights. Some attempt to recast their lives as part-time dads-the playboy, the workaholic, the swinger.

These are by no means the only dads I met. Some are genuinely at peace. Some have decent enough relationships with their ex-spouse that they put their kids first. Some have decided that the rocky journey towards authentic parenthood can be a joyful one, too.

But it's the vision of those decent, wry, dog-paddling dads that impelled me to seek out a colleague, another minister with counseling expertise, and create a course for area fathers.

" Spirited Fatherhood" which begins this October, is a short course in grieving one definition of dadhood- the one that disappeared when the nuclear family did, and celebrating a new one.

In tandem with my friend, a pastoral counselor who is himself divorced, we will try to help guys re-image and recreate fatherhood in the rubble-and liberate them to claim the inner dad they truly were meant to be. Scary, huh?

I'm excited-but boy is this a lot of work! There's SO much I don't know. However I am positive of one thing- our students will also be our teachers.

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