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Naming our Father Hunger

Do you see now that fathers
who cannot love their sons
have sons who cannot love?
It was not your fault
and it was not mine. I needed
your love but I recovered without it.
Now I no longer need anything.

–Richard Shelton

For over 25 years, Richard Rohr has identified something he calls father hunger as “the single most prevalent [and painful] absence in the human soul.” He underlines the unique importance of identity the same-sex parent passes on to their children. For men, “we cannot be ourselves, we cannot be our own man, or our own father, until we have been someone else’s little boy.”

Father hunger is a deep, often unconscious, need for masculine acceptance and approval.

When this craving goes unsatisfied, it may be a key driving force enabling many of the world’s self-destructive problems. It’s what keep men imprisoned under the myth there “is no other game in town but the game of power, status, and wealth… the game that is played in the boardrooms of corporate America, on the stock and commodity exchanges, on the playing fields of professional sports, in local and national governments, in the ranks of factory and office workers and in the neighborhoods of suburbia,” says Rohr. It is the compulsion behind doing whatever it takes to please men in power — coaches, CEOs or presidents — deep down almost everyone wants a chance to make Daddy proud.
Too many men spend their lives trying to prove to other men they are men, while often emotionally, spiritually and psychologically still remaining boys who secretly feel powerless. All because they have yet to experience the energy of a father’s love and guidance that says you, my son, already are a man.

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