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5 Ways to Father yourself and Why You'd Want to!

Whatever your relationship with your dad, whether it’s good, bad, or non-existent, it’s never too late to give yourself the fathering you always wanted. But as an adult, why would you want to develop an inner father-figure? What can it do for you? And how do you know if you need to? Read on to find out!

Child's hand in a larger father's hand with the words: Fathering yourself

 

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One of my most popular blogs from last year was about mothering yourself as an adult. Seems we all resonate with the idea of “mothering” no matter how adult we become, or even what gender we identify with.



For awhile I’ve been meaning to write an article on fathering ourselves in the same vein. I write the outline, or part of the article, and then I shy away from publishing it...



In fact, I never do. Why?


Well, it’s not so clear to me anymore where the role of father fits into our society, or even if it even does. Is the idea of "father" even relevant anymore?

Hold up. I'm not bashing dads. I promise.


It's not that fathers aren’t important, or needed anymore, of course they are! But their role is being rapidly re-modeled into one that looks a lot more like mom’s. Dad’s can nurturers and caretakers, too.


And I’m here for that. I’m all for more choices and more freedom.



But where does that leave the concept of the traditional father? And all the values it once upon a time held for us? You know the flip side of the mom coin.



In a world where gender-bending and gender fluidity rule, and where the power structures of patriarchy are actively being dismantled, where does that leave the values embodied in the idea of the traditional father?


And let us not forget that traditionally “dad” modeled a very exclusive version of masculinity and it’s values. It was modeled for their sons, and other men, or rather soon to be men.

Women, and daughters, were always left out of that equation and those values.



The closest we ever came to inclusion was the idea that dad would model for us what a man should be, and how a man in our lives should treat us, but he decidedly did not model for us inner qualities we too could emulate.



So is there room anymore for the traditional, stereotypical Father-figure? The one so closely connected, unfortunately with patriarchy?


And if modern millennial men have all but abandoned it, what use could it possibly hold for us, as women?

And here’s what I keep shying away from: I think there is.


Not the patriarchal bits — power, dominion, control, that’s the garbage — but what about the other stuff hidden within it?


Did we throw the baby out with the bathwater?



I strongly suspect there is missing treasure for us, as women, hidden in that dusty old relic of the traditional father-figure.



And it's hidden in those values that were embodied with the archetype of the traditional father. You remember, those values and qualities that were the flip side to “mom”?



Those values hold many of qualities we missed out on developing fully as little kids, if we were raised as girls.


Developing them out more fully might be the solution to some of the power struggles that plague us today.



In that vein, let’s look at some of those qualities and ask some questions to ferret out if we could use a little strengthening of that inner father figure!


In an ideal world a traditional Father figure would have modeled for us:



1. Protection and Worth.


“I cannot think of any need in children as strong as the need for a father’s protection.”

— Sigmund Freud


Even Freud knew that in a dangerous, uncertain world a Father’s first duty was to protect his family, his home, and his kids. Yes? So, what happens when dad doesn’t show up at all? Or doesn't do a good job of protecting them and teaching them the value of protection?


Often kids get the idea that they weren’t worth protecting, and that’s a wound that can show up all life long, regardless of gender.


Or as women, we can get the idea that we can't protect ourselves. We have to rely on others to do it for us.


So, when evaluating your own protection and worth, let me ask you:

  • Are you doing a good job at protecting yourself? Not just physically, but what about your inner resources? Do you protect your time? Your energy? Your ability to care for others? Or can anyone and everyone access them?

  • Do you have good boundaries?


  • Do you see your intrinsic worth, just as you? No need to earn it? Or do you see yourself as unimportant in comparison to others? A second class citizen?

  • Are you good at discerning who to let into your world, and who to politely leave out, or can anyone talk to you, befriend you or make demands of you?


  • Do you rely on other people to tell you your value or worth? Do your friends or partners have to give you worth?


Answering “yes” to any of those question might suggest you need to do some strengthening of you inner father-figure in those areas.




2. Work & Self-Respect


“I remember a very important lesson that my father gave me when I was twelve or thirteen. He said, ‘You know, today I welded a perfect seam and I signed my name to it.’ And I said, ‘But, Daddy, no one's going to see it!’ And he said, ‘Yeah, but I know it's there.’ So when I was working in kitchens, I did good work.”

— Toni Morrison


Back in that ideal world, your dad would have had you shadow him at work for the summer, or invited you into his wood shop, or maybe helped you with a science fair project. Through working with you he would have shown you the value in doing difficult work, and persevering with it.


Dad would have insisted that you always meet a standard of excellence. That you always do your best work, even when no one is looking.


And not just because hard work pays off, but also because hard work is a reward in and of itself. We gain dignity, and respect (our own) by striving for those ideals. We don’t always hit the mark. But we feel better, somehow, when we know we gave it our all.



So, when evaluating your own work ethic and self-respect let me ask you:


  • Do you readily embrace difficult work? Or do you fear that you aren’t ready or good enough?

  • Are you consistently disappointed by whatever effort of work you put in because it wasn’t “perfect” without any regard to how hard you worked, or what your level of skill is? Is perfect the only acceptable outcome, no matter how much effort you put in?

  • Do you value your work in the world, your job? Do you give yourself your own dignity and respect for what you do, no matter what it is? Your work is important and should value and respect yourself for it!


Again, if you aren’t answering yes here, it may be time to pull on that inner archetype to help you develop those qualities, to re-father yourself.




3. Courage & Risk-taking



"Being a dad isn’t just about eating a huge bag of gummy bears as your wife gives birth. It means being comfortable with the word ‘hero.”

— Ryan Reynolds


Traditionally dads are our first heroes. They teach us in real life what it means to have courage, and to risk things for others. That mouse in the house that must be caught, the one that has everyone else screaming and on chairs?


That’s ideally "traditionally" dad’s world. Only he can face down that dilemma. Only he can show us how to face and deal with our fears.


Dad’s model for us the hero’s journey, going out and doing amazing feats of daring for his family. And they also show us how to get up when they fall down, and do it until they get it right. After all, their family is counting on them.



So, when evaluating your own work courage and risk-taking let me ask you:


  • Are you comfortable with the word hero? Are you comfortable seeing yourself as a hero on your personal journey of fulfillment? Are you capable of doing daring things for yourself and your best life?

  • Do you have strategies for dealing with fear? And with failures? Or do you overthink/over-analyze past losses/failures? Maybe beat yourself up over them? Or give up quickly after the first defeat?

  • Are you good at taking risks? When was the last time I took a big risk? And does your life reflect back to you the values of valor and bravery?



Answering “yes” to any of those question might suggest you need to do some strengthening of you inner father-figure in those areas.




4. Self-confidence and Belief


"My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person: He believed in me.”

— Jim Valvano


Imagine that you’re back in high school, and you want to try out for the lead in the play, or maybe for track team, but you’re not sure you’d have a chance. If you’re lucky, it was your dad who insisted you go for it, and told you he believed in you, that he knew you could.


Hopefully, he showed you how to dismantle and dissolve self-doubt: with deep faith and belief in yourself. And he didn’t just tell you that you were good enough, he insisted you prove it to yourself by backing it up with action.


Dad’s are often the ones in our lives challenging us to reach for more, to aim higher, to dream bigger. To never settle for less than everything we want. Couldn’t we all use more of that in our lives?



So, when evaluating your own self-confidence and belief in yourself let me ask you:


  • Do you have areas in your life where you've settled for less than you want? Or for less than your abilities? Why?

  • Do believe in yourself and your ability to make things happen? Do you have faith that life is on your side and wants even more good things for you, or have you lost some of that faith, and why?

  • Do you know how to deal with disappointment when things don't work out on the first try? Or are you scared to hope for more and to aim higher and be disappointed again? How might your life and standards change is you weren't? If you believed in yourself again, the way a dad would a favorite child?


Answering “yes” to any of those question might suggest you need to do some strengthening of you inner father-figure in those areas.


5. Freedom & Independence


“My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass.’ ‘We’re not raising grass,’ Dad would reply. ‘We’re raising boys.’”

— Harmon Killebrew


When dad’s watch over us, they often turn a bit of a benign blind eye to our play and infractions. They may even encourage us to break the rules, or even lead the way into doing so. Why? It helps us grow and find ourselves.


Instilling independence means we all have differentiate ourselves from our families and even our fathers. And that means we’re going to have to break some rules in order to find our own set of them. The ones we will live by as adults.


Not to mention, figure out how to get ourselves out of some of our own messes and shenanigans. Dad’s like no other encourage use to own that freedom.



So, when evaluating your own work freedom and independence let me ask you:


  • Do you pride yourself on following all the rules? Are you a good girl who feels guilty breaking them? And yet, do you have your own inner rules for you that can override some of the other rules? When was the last time you broke someone else's rules, even a silly one? How did it feel?

  • Can you fly solo and do your own independent thing, at work or even socially? Or do you always need a partner to re-assure you that you’re doing it right, to make you feel safe?

  • How have your traditions, rules and customs changed from your family of origins? How have you gained your independence and made your own rules?


Answering “yes” to any of those question might suggest you need to do some strengthening of you inner father-figure in those areas.


And that's the list, or at least the beginning of a list of "traditional" masculine values, un-tethered from the previous culture.


I hope you can see how developing those inner qualities could leave you in a stronger place to be a leader, to guard your time and space, give you even more permission to be you boldly and even have more fun in life.


Use this list and the questions to re-parent yourself and develop those inner qualities in you so you can have that kind of life.


But remember: Go gently, be kind, the best fathers (even inner-fathers) are kind. And then put some action and thought into those areas.


And have fun. Always have fun, that’s the key to doing anything successfully.


I hope that helps and I will see you next week!


All my love,

Desirée Sommer


 

Desirée Sommer is a former Interior Designer, and a current Writer/Speaker who helps people just like you Style, Beautify and make their lives Fun again!



She happily resides in the rural beauty of Idaho with her pet pooch Bree, where she gets to take epic hikes, and plot her next big adventure/road trip/travel destination.


 

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