Just for Dads ~ June 2021
by Ward Williams
Executive director, Vineyard Family Services
Early in my marriage, I remember regularly watching two television shows. The first was Ally McBeal, which left me wondering and confused if I knew anything about how 20-year-old women dressed, thought, and pursued relationships. The other show was 7th Heaven, a show about the perfect family, which left me questioning if there really were families and homes that were that loving.
On one episode of 7th Heaven, there was conflict between the parents and their middle child. The middle child, Simon, told his parents he knew they loved him, but they could love him a lot less. As a young married man, the thought that parents could be overly involved really confused me and left me unsure if it was something I believed.
This blog is being written around Father’s Day and just after celebrating Mother’s Day. After many years working with men and fathers, I have come to the conclusion that loving too much, or more specifically over-involvement from parents, specifically moms, can wound children, especially boys.
I would never say anything negative about moms, and most boys and men will fight you if you say anything negative about their moms. There has been a great deal of research, which shows that an uninvolved or under-involved father leaves a wound on both genders of children. There is lesson in Authentic Manhood’s “33 the Series” that discusses a man’s relationship with his mother.
Henry Cloud argues that the way a man’s mother handled his needs as a child shapes his worldview, relationships, marriage, career, and self-image. There is an argument that men with overinvolved moms or men who are overly connected to their moms can become males who are sometimes too controlling in relationships with women or too passive.
There was a popular John Mayer song, “Daughters,” that talked about how the daughter’s relationship with her father impacted all her relationships with other men. I am convinced that the opposite is true and there could be a song called “Sons” written by women trying to figure out why her relationships with men keep failing — and implore mothers to help raise healthy boys who will become healthy men.
The ability to identify overinvolvement is not nearly as easy to identify as lack of involvement. If you have a high level of self-awareness, some good questions to ask yourself might be, “Am I helping my son build skills in resiliency, compassion, masculinity, and spiritual leadership?” “Am I preparing my son to be able to have meaningful healthy emotional connections as an adult?” “Am I preparing myself for healthy emotional breaks?”
If you know a good, healthy father, he was most likely influenced by a fantastic mom. Happy Father’s Day!
Ward Williams is the founder and executive director of Vineyard Family Services. Contact him at email@example.com.