The Grandfather

As a personal coach, I often get to participate in areas of a persons life that effect them at levels that are deeper than just immediate problem solving. Sometimes these areas spread to social and cultural issues which effect us all and cause me to think about things from differing perspectives. One should not be surprised to learn that family relationships are a critical contributor to the filters through which we view our lives. The following is an example of that process. 

A friend had his first grandson the other day. His son has fathered a bouncing baby boy and all are doing well. Although the birth of a son experience happened to me 30 and 32 years ago, I still carry the fresh new pride and excitement that only fatherhood can bring to a man and, in a particularly different way from that of a daughter, the birth of a son.

This young father, whom I know quite well, participated in the birth of his son far more than I was allowed to. He spent the entire labor period with his wife and not only viewed the birth itself but video taped it. Such a remarkable and beautiful experience for them all to share. I wasn't allowed to do that with my sons. In fact the hospital staff sent me home during the labor and called me when it was all over. That's just the way they did it then and there. That is one of those unfillable black holes that I carry around in my little bag of emotional trash.

My first thoughts were around the memory of how magical it is to be a father particularly, if only slightly so, for the first time. I suspect this young man will be more involved with his children in the early years than I, and most of my generation of men, was partly because it has become far more acceptable socially to do so and because there is so much more information available today on the importance of fathers in a baby's life. The culture, for many reasons, is simply more supportive and expectant of deep father involvement in the raising of children and it is obvious that he takes that involvement quite seriously. I am just so delighted that this new soul has a father who is totally immersed and committed to his well being. My later thoughts then turned to the availability of multiple generations of male role models in a young mans life and that is what I chose to write about today.

So now my friend is part of three generations of sons alive and well. Having spent the better part of my life dealing with the father-son dynamic and father absence syndrome in one way or another, I would think that my perspective might be less excitable about the potentials inherent in three generations of men side by side. But truthfully, it still seems as wonderful and exciting an idea as I can imagine. The potential for passing down the genetic inheritance through the extended evolutionary chain is deliciously available and mystically demanding.

I don't mean the physical genetics, that is what it is without (at least not yet) being subject to our choices and it is constantly being changed and advanced as each new strain is introduced and intermixed. I'm speaking of the masculine memories that make the father - son interaction so deeply active and alive even when it is non-existent physically. I'm addressing the history, pain, excitement, humor and life values of men who have fought their battles and won some/lost some but always found a way to survive and create some form of legacy.

As I sit and contemplate what grandfathering is all about, I realize that part of my excitement is in recognizing that we don't pass that legacy to our children but to our grandchildren. I have long examined and quoted the Jungian idea that spirit passes from father to grandchild, skipping a generation but until now I don't think I fully understood it. 

Mythology tells us that it is the father who must, symbolically, stand in the doorway to the future and block the son from going forth to his own discovery of self, for it cannot be found without a battle. The father is the symbolic embodiment of everything that is holding the son from finding his own true self. The son must fight the father and win if he is to come into his own and if he does not win that battle both father and son die spiritually. It is an inherent element in the great mystery of life. The advice and reason that we so dearly want to give our sons to protect them from themselves and the world is deeply suspect. It is seen by the son as being possessed with treason and treachery and self interest and directly opposed to the immediate interests of the son. Whether it is or it isn't, the battle rages until it is over.

But there is no such battle to be fought with the grandson. The grandson is the proof that the genetic and spiritual seed lives, that the greatest battle, that of selective evolution, has been won. He comes with innocence and openness and a willingness to fight his battles as he must. Now my friend, as grandfather, can finally watch the legacy go to its rightful owner.

His comment to me was as magical in itself as the story of the birth; "If I can watch him learn to laugh at himself and be glad that God has granted him his small patch of time to be able to grow and be happy and spread his seed to future generations, it will have been worth it."

© 2007, Kenneth F. Byers

Other Transition Issues, Books

*    *    *

A permanent state of transition is man's most noble condition. - Juan Ramon Jimenez

Ken Byers holds a Ph.D. in psychology with an emphasis in Men's Studies, one of the few ever awarded in the U.S. Ken is a full time Certified Professional Life Coach specializing in working with men in any form of transition and an instructor of design at San Francisco State University.

His books, "Man In Transition" and "Who Was That Masked man Anyway" are widely acknowledged as primers for men seeking deeper knowledge of creating awareness and understanding of the masculine way. More information on Ken, his work and/or subscription information to the weekly "Spirit Coach" newsletter which deals with elements of the human spirit in short commentary, check the box at or or or E-Mail You are welcome to share any of Ken's columns with anyone without fee from or to him but please credit to the author. Ken can be reached at: 415.239.6929.

Contact Us | Disclaimer | Privacy Statement
Menstuff® Directory
Menstuff® is a registered trademark of Gordon Clay
©1996-2019, Gordon Clay