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'Mail' Newspaper Articles

Focal Point (for publishing—13/07/10)

Father Hunger is Worse


We seem to be a hungry people with an appetite that cannot be satisfied. I read last week that Australians are now more obese on average than Americans. Of course you can’t always believe what ‘they say’. However I believe it is not so much a need for more food per-se, although the sensation that certain food gives can be addictive, rather than a need to ‘comfort’ & in effect ‘anesthetize’ us against that which we are not dealing well with in our lives. Depression seems to also give way to this same need and another report says that around 80% of Australians are depressed. Now before this all gets too distressing, there are some good ways forward and it is not my job to address them here. See your doctor or health worker or may be a counselor to help find out what is going on and perhaps what you are trying to anesthetize against and why. With all that said I want to talk about another societal illness that we call ‘Father Hunger’. In my counseling, which always seems to have double the male clients than female, I find a common thread for many men and that is a ‘father hunger’. Before I go on to talk about this let me set the scene. We live in a society where 50% of first marriages breakdown, at least 65% of second ones do and as a consequences we have children growing up in a home where males rotate through a child’s life a number of times when they are growing up. Some end up in better situations if a father has been brutal or unattending and the step or next man is a good one. In a sense, boys and men who were boys once have grown up in an environment without consistent and constructive male modeling. I have men who say many things about their fathers. For example, “The day my father died was the happiest day of my life”. That man had a brutal father. Another said, “My father was cruel and abusive and his model has left me and my brothers without a spine because we didn’t know how to act in the alternative – we are all hen-pecked”. Others of course say that their stepfathers are great and have been a good influence on them. Other men have been on a lifetime search for the father-love they never had, hoping to find it in women partners. Guess what, they get disillusioned and angry because even the best of women can’t supply that. Yet other men tell me with tears of anguish, that as they try to mange their families and business life, they feel that their fathers did not prepare the for the job and they have too few ‘tools in the toolbox’. In our men’s group which is now into its sixth year, I have found that whenever we bring up the subject of fathers or even get near it starting on another subject, it is like throwing a match into petrol. There is a lot of anger in our community directed firstly to their own fathers, dead or alive, and transferred to spouse, partners, children and to authority at large. Steve Biddulph in his book manhood says that if you can’t love the father component in you (genetically) you will not love yourself and the hate will usually drive you to hate or at least disrespect older men – the ‘elders’. And that is a subject for another time – ‘Where are the Elders?’ Let me close with hope. You can get help, you do need help because if the anger over father hunger is not abated, it will continue to destroy your relationships with your partners, children and those whom you live and work with in the community which will in turn destroy your own life and health. Ring us at Valley Care today and come into a safe, man-friendly understanding place. (Booking number below)

Graeme Dawson B.Min. Grad.Dip.CC.
Co-ordinator Focal Point & Valley Care Counsellor & Manager
Valley Care Counselling Service 0409 517273
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Focal Point Yarra Valley 2009