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.
Has anyone ever said this to you?
Whatever the answer, with children of our own now, we are challenged to carve out a brand new path for the following generations. One where we do become the fathers we’ve always needed.
Listen to Jason Momoa share his dream of fatherhood in his Canvas of My Life story and tell me if it awakens something in you.

There isn’t anything you have to do to earn your worth, it is given to you.

You either know this deep within the fibers of your being, or you don’t yet and have to learn to give it to yourself. When you have to be the one to give it first, it’s the kind of thing that benefits from an outside witness to help us face our self-doubt and reassure us we indeed speak the truth.

This is what fathers can do for each other.

Fathers need each other, to be involved in one another’s lives, to create safe places together where we can be honest with how we feel about our role as a father.
This is only the beginning of an exhilarating journey deeper into fatherhood, which will take years to unpack and explore and relish. For now, just imagine how the world could change with a little grace helping to heal this father hunger so many of us suffer from — the act of a father freely choosing his son (or daughter) may be the first step leading to the restoration of all other things.

Idea explorer. Visual storyteller. Conflict mediator. Student of the human heart. A while back I taught workshops at and helped creative professionals around the globe #createsustainably.


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