For 20 years, Neil Chethik
has made it his goal to find out what men really
think -- about family, relationships, fathering,
aging, sex, and more. He is the author of two
best-selling books, Fatherloss
(Hyperion) and VoiceMale
(Simon & Schuster). Hes been a nationally
syndicated columnist, a big-hall speaker, and now,
the national medias go-to guy for what men
really think about their everyday lives. Contact:
Neil Chethik, P.O. Box 8071, Lexington, KY 40533 or
859.361.1659 or E-Mail
Dumping the Soul
My Coming of
Preparing for the Death of
Should We Circumcise
Siblings and Rivalry: Do
You Like Your Brother?
Son, Im Proud of
The Value of
What I Learned on My
First Hunting Trip
What Sons Need From Their
Where Are the Male
Where are all of the Male
Where Are the Male
Where are the men? Ask any bereavement counselor,
hospital chaplain, or hospice administrator to give
you a breakdown, by gender, of those who use their
services, and youll probably get a similar
response: Somewhere between 60 and 90 percent of
their clients will be women.
In part, these lopsided figures reflect the fact
that men die earlier than women, and thus, are less
apt to face bereavement over the loss of a spouse.
But every year, millions of American men lose their
parents, children, siblings, and other loved ones.
And yet, even in those instances, men seem to stay
away from grief services in droves.
Why is this the case? And what, if anything, can
be done about it?
I recently finished writing a book on how sons
come to terms with the deaths of their fathers. As
part of my research, I conducted in-depth
interviews with 70 men whose fathers had died.
Based on those interviews, as well as the valuable
work of Thomas Golden, Kenneth Doka, Terry Martin,
and others, I intend to suggest in this article
that 1) men avoid grief services in part because
those services tend not to reflect their styles of
grieving, and 2) grief counselors can help more men
by shaping some of their services differently.
In the course of my research on father-loss, I
always asked my male interviewees whether they
sought grief counseling. More than 90 percent said
no. As one 34-year-old man put it: Why should
I go to a therapist? Shell just try to get me
to cry. This statement goes to the heart of
why men tend not to seek grief counseling: They
perceive grief services as being for women.
Theyre only partly wrong. Over the past 40
years, tremendous strides have been made in our
understanding of grief and mourning. But because
widows are more numerous than widowers and
more willing to participate in grief studies
most of the research thus far has focused on how
women handle loss. Thus, affective expressiveness
especially crying and talking about the loss
with others has come to be seen as the
accepted norm for grieving. Those who cope with
loss in other ways are often considered to be doing
And yet, the few studies of mens grieving
indicate that men tend toward a different way than
women, and that this way is often just as
In the mid-1990s, Marion and Sidney Moss of
Philadelphias Polisher Research Institute,
along with R.L. Rubinstein, interviewed 43 mid-life
men whod lost elderly fathers. They found
that men tended to control their emotions after the
death, emphasizing action and thinking instead.
Some of the sons turned their attention outward,
focusing on funeral planning, taking care of the
estate, supporting relatives, and similar
activities. Others turned inward, mentally
reviewing their relationships with their dads, or
rationalizing that the fathers death was best
for all concerned.
The surprise for the researchers was that these
mourning strategies seemed to be effective. The
researchers noted: We suggest that the male
orientation (toward grief) is essentially adaptive.
Rather than leading to a vulnerable self,
action-oriented coping may enhance immediate
mastery and bolster self-esteem. A cognitive
orientation to loss may better enable a long-term
processing that is slow and incremental rather than
sudden and jarring.
In their provocative new book, Men Dont
Cry... Women Do, Doka and Martin also assert, based
on decades of clinical experience, that men tend
toward a style of grieving that focuses on
thinking, mastering feelings, and action. The
action, which may include running, lifting weights,
stacking wood, or chiseling a tombstone, seems to
serve as a way to restore normalcy and a
sense of security after a loss, the authors
The men I interviewed about the deaths of their
fathers also tended toward active grieving. Among
the four categories of male grievers I identified
Dashers, Delayers, Displayers, and Doers
Doers were most common. Men told me that
after the deaths of their fathers, they coped by
walking, running, gardening, building with their
fathers tools, and taking over the
fathers business, among other activities.
Through these activities, they said often
repeated many times the men were able to
gradually release the energy that built up inside
them after the loss.
Its important to stress that gender is not
an absolute determinant of styles of grieving.
About 20 percent of the men I interviewed said
crying and talking were their primary ways of
coping with the loss of their dads. And some women
with whom Ive shared my research told me they
mourn through action.
However, given that men tend toward a different
style of grief than women, is there anything
counselors and death educators can do to better
serve men in grief? Following are three
suggestions, representing a consensus among
researchers and therapists with a particular
interest in men and grief.
1) In setting up grief groups, innovate. Many
men avoid bereavement groups because they expect to
sit in a circle and talk about their feelings. The
Canadian psychologist Philip Carverhill suggests
re-framing grief groups as mutual
story-telling sessions in which men have an
opportunity to simply relate their loss
Maryland therapist Thomas R. Golden goes as far
as to suggest that grief groups for men be held
outside of a standard clinical setting. For
example, Golden says, a hospice counselor might
invite local widowers for a day-long fishing trip
in honor of their deceased wives. In Goldens
experience, men are more likely to show up for such
an excursion than for a group session in an office.
When the boat trip is over, Golden predicted, the
men will walk off in pairs and threes,
having made connections that might even continue on
outside a formal group.
2) In individual therapy with men, be open to
non-traditional styles of grieving. Doka and Martin
suggest that in the opening sessions of individual
therapy with a bereaved man, therapists focus on
assessing the clients past grief patterns and
adaptive strategies. Language is very important
during this phase. When a therapist asks, How
did you feel? it implies that
feeling is the primary domain worth
exploring. Doka and Martin suggest asking:
How did you react? or How did you
If the client and therapist can identify an
effective coping strategy from the clients
past, they should play to that strength. In the
self-help book, When a Man Faces Grief, Golden and
co-author James E. Miller speak directly to
bereaved men: Are you a quiet one? Then write
rather than talk if that feels right. Or take slow
walks. Or listen to soothing music.... Are you
expressive emotionally? Then cry or laugh, rant or
rave.... Are you precise by nature? Then try
keeping track of your grief with a daily
3) In all kinds of therapy, be a witness.
Carverhill contends that male clients are generally
not that interested in feedback, analysis, or
judgment. Carverhill writes: The bereaved
male tells his story to others as an attempt to
make meaning of his loss experience. By being a
reflecting surface, the therapist can aid him in
In the interviews for my book on father-loss, I
personally experienced the power of witnessing. As
a journalist, I was interested primarily in
recording exactly what happened to each man, step
by step, before, during, and after his
fathers death. So my main question was,
repeatedly: What happened next? Most of
my interviewees seemed to appreciate this approach.
In fact, toward the end of each interview, I asked
each man what had helped him most in dealing with
the death of his father. More than a few said
talking with me.
In the end, it is unlikely that male bereavement
clients will outnumber females in the foreseeable
future. But as we learn more about mens
styles of grieving, and apply that knowledge to the
act of therapy, I believe that more men will seek
help, and when they do, get what they need.
Preparing for the Death of
Sigmund Freud called it "the most poignant loss" of
his life. Sean Connery termed it "a shattering
blow." Norman Mailer likened it to "having a hole
in your tooth. It's a pain that can never be
filled." Each year, more than 1.5 million American
boys and men lose their fathers to death. And like
the three men mentioned above, most are
But preparation is possible. Recently, in
writing a book about father-loss, I asked 70
ordinary men what they did - or wish they'd done -
to ready themselves for the deaths of their dads.
Here's their best advice for sons whose fathers are
* Make peace with your dad.
This was by far the most common suggestion. Sons
put it in a variety of ways: "Say what you have to
say before it's too late." "As quickly as you can,
resolve those old issues." "If you have any
conflicts, clear them up."
The reason for peacemaking: Sons who are
estranged from, angry with, or otherwise unresolved
with their dads have the hardest time recovering
from a father's death. In addition to their sadness
over the loss, these sons often wrestle for years
with regrets, resentments, and
On the other hand, sons who are at peace with
the fathers tend to mourn intensely in the
short-term, but rebound more quickly.
How can a son make peace with his father? Some
feel a need to clear the air, to express lingering
disappointment or anger. Others need only to thank
their dads. One man told me that at the age of 37,
he spontaneously hugged his dad, "and then there
was just this melting. I don't recall ever
resenting him again."
* Care for your father if he is ill.
Many sons told me they were never closer to
their dads than during the weeks leading up to the
father's death. They often felt free to comfort
him, to care for him - to father him.
One son, who'd sat by his father's bedside,
swabbing the older man's forehead and lips, during
the days before the death, said: "It was hard. But
I wouldn't have traded it for anything.... He took
care of me, I'm taking care of him. There was that
mutual, coming-full-circle aspect of it."
Another son took his widowed dad into his home
for the last two years of the father's life. After
the death, this son relished the memory of that
time together: "It was an important period because
I'd kind of lost fellowship with my father. He was
more of a stranger than a father.... It was a time
for me and my dad to get to know each other
* Talk with your father about his death.
This may seem morbid, or just plain rude. But
most of the men who did this told me their fathers
were glad to talk. Sons, it turns out, are often
more afraid of a father's death than is the father
Still, finesse is important. One son handled the
conversation deftly, approaching his 87-year-old
father with these words: "I'd like to be able to
carry out your wishes after your death. To do that,
I need to know what your wishes are."
The result was a conversation in which the son
learned what kind of medical treatment his father
wanted in late-life, what kind of funeral he
wanted, and what he wanted done with some of his
prized personal possessions.
The son also got a bonus: He saw that his
father, who'd had a stroke, was not resisting
death. Knowing this helped the son accept the death
* Expose yourself to death.
For most sons, the loss of a father is the first
death in their immediate family. They haven't
before watched the dying process up-close, and they
don't know what to expect from themselves or family
members during the crisis. For such sons, it may
help to acquaint oneself with death before it
occurs in one's own family.
One man did this by volunteering at Hospice,
keeping company with people in the last days and
hours of their lives. This man told me: "Death is
something we tend to avoid... until it's thrust
upon us.... Doing something like (Hospice) - a
familiarity comes. I got accustomed to death."
Reading about death also can help, whether it's
biblical scripture, poetry, even self-help books.
One Christian man told me that as his father was
dying, he read the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
to get a Buddhist view on the life-death cycle. It
helped him enormously. "If you see (death) as a
natural thing," he said, "it takes a lot of the
sting out of it."
Of course, no matter how thoroughly you prepare
for a father's death, you cannot fully mourn it in
advance. And you generally can't predict how you
will respond. Some sons told me they expected to be
crestfallen at the loss, but felt only relief.
Others knew the death was coming, but still were
shocked at the finality that it brought.
Nonetheless, consciously preparing for loss has
value. By removing at least some of the surprise of
the loss, and by intentionally bringing closure to
relationship with the dying person, it can take the
hard edge off the mourning to come.
Son, Im Proud of
Each year when Fathers Day approaches,
Im reminded of the most important words my
father ever said to me.
The year was 1984, I was 27 years old, between
journalism jobs, living just a few blocks from the
small Miami Beach apartment my paternal grandfather
had set up after his retirement. It was the first
time in my life that Grandpa was close-by, and
along with meals of pot roast and potatoes, I
soaked up the stories of his harrowing childhood in
Eastern Europe, desperate emigration, and eclectic
life that spanned the century.
Then one day I got a phone call from a doctor.
"I'm sorry to tell you this," came the voice, "but
your grandfather has had a heart attack, and he has
The next day, my father flew to south Florida
from his home in Michigan. I picked him up at the
airport, and we drove in silence to the hospital to
identify Grandpa's body, collect his watch and
wallet, and make arrangements to ship the body
north for burial at my grandmother's side.
Then my father turned the key to my
grandfather's home, and we began sorting the
material remnants of the old man's life. We
discovered curled black-and-white photos from the
early years, key-chains from more recent times,
passbooks, matchbooks, coins, coupons, and a pack
of stale generic cigarettes. Working in different
rooms, we'd occasionally exclaim to each other
about a special find. Mostly we sorted in
We kept at it until the glow of the afternoon
sun had waned. Then my father and I collapsed in my
grandfather's heavily pillowed living-room chairs,
glasses of the old mans scotch in hand. We
shared memories for awhile, then quiet. Finally, as
the room faded into near-total darkness, I heard a
guttural groan. At first, I was startled. Then I
realized what was happening. I had never before
heard my father cry.
I rose, and knelt by his side. After a couple of
minutes, he spoke. "I am crying not only for my
father, but for me," he said. "His death means I'll
never hear the words I've always wanted to hear
from him: that he was proud of me, proud of the
family I'd raised and the life I've lived."
And then my father directed his voice toward me,
and he uttered the words that continue to resound.
"So that you never have to feel this way too," he
said, "I want to tell you now how proud I am of
you, of the choices you've made, of the life you've
Much of the pain that is inherent in father-son
relationships dissolved for me in the calming
resonance of that blessing. And in the months that
followed, I felt stronger, more confident,
especially as I re-started my career.
In the years since my fathers
pronouncement, Ive discovered that
father-pride is a prominent theme in many
father-son relationships. Our mothers can shape us
in myriad ways, but it is generally our fathers
from whom we seek a blessing.
So this Fathers Day, as we fathers accept
gifts from our sons, let us remember the gift that
so many of them desire, but will not request.
Simple words, expressed sincerely: Son,
Im proud of you.
Where are all of the
Walk into most any elementary school, and you'll
find the usual: There'll be lists of classroom
rules, crisp American flags, brightly colored name
tags in the shapes of lions, bears, and dinosaurs.
But unless you stumble across the janitor or gym
teacher, there's one species you're not likely to
While law enforcement, medicine, engineering,
and other professions have changed markedly in
their gender make-up since the 1960s, elementary
education remains a female citadel. Nationally,
only one in 10 grade-school teachers is male.
Interestingly, while school officials rightly
put resources toward recruiting and retaining
ethnic minorities, they do not do the same to bring
in men. And yet, a school without male teachers may
be just as detrimental to a child as one without
black, Hispanic, Asian, or other ethnic minorities
in the teaching ranks.
What's the potential damage? Listen to Mike
Carr, the director of human resources for my local
school system, in Lexington, Kentucky. When I asked
him recently why the county targets ethnic
minorities to fill teaching positions, he
responded: "It's good for (children) to see all
different kinds of people as role models."
In other words, schoolchildren, regardless of
their background, benefit from having a culturally
diverse array of teachers. The lives of minority
children are especially enhanced; they feel more
welcomed and understood in school, more comfortable
in the education culture.
The parallel with boys is clear. If there were
more male teachers, wouldn't boys naturally feel
more welcomed in the schools? Wouldn't they
understand more fully that education is as
important for them as it is for girls?
Last year, a friend's son started kindergarten
at a local public school. During the first week of
class, his female teacher routinely required the
boy and his classmates to sit quietly in their
seats, hands in lap - or lose privileges.
Not surprisingly, virtually all of the children
reprimanded were male. It's not surprising because
5-year-old boys are not designed to sit and stay;
rather, because of testosterone, they're chemically
engineered to be on the go. Michael Gurian, author
of The Wonder of Boys, puts it this way: "Boys tend
to use up far more space than girls."
Rather than trying to squelch this tendency,
Gurian and others say, teachers should be designing
their classes to accommodate it. Sadly, by the end
of the first week of my friend's son's class, a
handful of his most active classmates already were
being labeled as "the bad boys." (In an ironic
twist, children who disobeyed rules in this class
were not allowed to go out for recess, the only 15
minutes of the school day when intense physical
activity was encouraged.)
Certainly, there are female teachers who
understand "boy energy." And there are male
teachers who do not. But I can't help believing
that the presence of more men in the elementary
schools would generate interest and conversation
about the important differences in educating boys
If boys were excelling in school, I suppose all
of this would be moot. But they're not. New
research shows that boys are more likely than girls
to be expelled or suspended from school, to drop
out before graduating high school, and to end their
education before college. While girls certainly
face obstacles in school, boys are the ones now
What can be done to attract more male teachers
to the grade schools? Not much, says Carr, the
Lexington, Ky., schools human resources director.
He told me that few men seem interested in the
starting salary he can offer: $25,600 a year.
For the long run, then, those of us who see the
value of men in the grade schools can advocate for
higher teacher salaries, which all teachers deserve
anyway. We can also support special recruitment and
retention efforts for male teachers. And we can
suggest that school officials take a look at such
books as Raising Cain, Real Boys, and The Wonder of
Boys, all of which present the latest research on
how boys learn.
While we wait for results, however, we fathers,
uncles, grandfathers, and other males are needed
where it counts - in the classroom. As this
academic year begins, we can go to our local
schools and offer ourselves as tutors, mentors,
advisers, consultants. Even if we do nothing more
than read a book to a class once a month, we'll
send the message - to both boys and girls - that
men care about their education, that we care about
My Coming of Age
I think of my Grandpa Willie as a Yiddish-speaking
Santa Claus. He was a round man with thick white
hair, flushed cheeks, and a hearty laugh. Hed
come to America in 1920 from Poland, in a harrowing
escape from the pogroms, when he was just 16 years
old. He passed through Ellis Island, then nestled
into Brooklyn for the next half-century, raising a
family and running a string of small
As a kid, one of my favorite times was our
familys regular pilgrimage to pick up Grandpa
Willie at the airport. Hed fly in from New
York to spend Passover with us in Michigan. In
those days, you could wait in the gate area for the
passengers to disembark. My parents, siblings and I
craned our necks in anticipation as Grandpa came
off the jet-way.
We could usually tell it was Grandpa even before
we saw his mischievous grin. He was the waddling
man toting shopping bags full of food: foot-long
salamis, whole roasted chickens, fresh bagels.
I have two brothers one older and one
younger and the first move Grandpa made upon
coming off the plane was to line us up, left to
right, and call us to inspection. Let me see
those muscles! hed declare. The three
of us boys struck our most brazen Jack LaLanne
poses, bending elbows and pulling up shirt sleeves
to exhibit six pebbly biceps.
I recall one special visit that Grandpa made in
1970. I remember the exact year because it was on
that visit that Grandpa bestowed upon me what I now
affectionately call my shotgun Bar Mitzvah.
My parents were secular Jews, and had not
prepared me for this rite of passage into manhood.
But Grandpa was Orthodox, and he couldnt have
faced God knowing that I had turned 13 without it.
So with my fathers permission though
not his presence Grandpa drilled me day
after day on the Hebrew prayers that I needed to
know for the ceremony.
Anyone who has tried to learn Hebrew in a
fortnight will understand Grandpas need to
scale back his expectations. And yet, on the
morning of my 13th birthday, he decided that I was
ready. He took me by the hand and walked me to the
nearest synagogue. In an anteroom off the
sanctuary, a quorum of elders watched as I took the
mantle of manhood.
In that anteroom, I felt embarrassed,
disconnected from the alien syllables I was
muttering. Nonetheless, I still remember with
fondness Grandpas soft palm on mine as we
strolled together toward the temple.
Years went by. I grew up and Grandpa grew old.
And in 1984, now in my mid-20s, I had the chance to
move to Miami Beach, just a few blocks from where
Grandpa had set up his retirement home. He was 80
now, and a widower, but still flushed with life. In
the decade since my grandmother died, he had
married and divorced twice.
About once a week, we spent an afternoon
together at the beach. Afterward, we tramped to his
apartment, where he cooked a succulent kosher meal
of brisket or roasted chicken. After dinner, I
plied him with schnapps and pumped him for stories
about the old country. These were among our closest
Then one day, shortly after one of these
dinners, I received a phone call at home. It was my
grandfathers doctor. These were his exact
words: "I'm sorry to tell you this, but your
grandfather has had a heart attack, and he has
The statement took my breath away. The next day,
my father flew to south Florida from his home in
Michigan. I met him at the baggage claim, and we
drove to the hospital to identify Grandpa's
Later, at Grandpas apartment, we began
sorting the material remnants of the old mans
life. We found curled photos, key-chains,
matchbooks, and in the bedroom closet, a shocking
array of pastel leisure suits.
We kept at it until the glow of the afternoon
sun began to wane. Even as the apartment darkened,
however, neither of us flipped on the lights. We
just kept sorting until we could barely make out
the items in front of us. Thats when my
father and I poured scotch over ice and collapsed
in Grandpas heavily pillowed living-room
chairs. We shared memories for awhile, then
Finally, as the room faded into near-total
darkness, I heard a guttural moan. At first, I was
alarmed. Then I realized what was happening.
It was the first time I had heard my father
After a few minutes, his sobs abated. Then he
made two statements that have stayed with me for 22
years. First, he said: "I am crying not only for my
father, but for me. His death means I'll never hear
the words I've always wanted to hear from him: that
he was proud of me, proud of the family I'd raised
and the life I've lived."
My father paused, and made a second
pronouncement, this one directed to me. "So that
you never have to feel this way too, he said,
I want to tell you now how proud I am of you,
of the choices you've made, of the life you've
Any residual pain from our previous relationship
struggles dissolved for me in the calm resonance of
that blessing. And in the months that followed, I
felt stronger, more confident. It was as if my
father represented not only himself but the larger
world of men, and I had been accepted into it.
Up until that point, I had sometimes wondered
why my father didnt attend my Bar Mitzvah
back in 1970. Those statements he made to me in the
wake of his fathers death helped me
understand. Indeed, his direct expression of pride
in me that day, served as the closing prayer in
that long-running rite of passage.
What I Learned on My
First Hunting Trip
I had never before shot my own dinner. At 38 years
of age, I'd lived most of my life in suburban
America, where hunting usually referred to
searching for parking spaces at the regional mall.
I had never in my life picked up a loaded shotgun,
let alone aimed it at a living creature with the
intent to kill.
But over the recent holidays, I lost my
innocence. After four years of enjoying an annual
quail dinner at the home of my in-laws, I was
informed this time around that I'd be expected to
help put the meal on the table. If I was willing to
eat the bird, they suggested, shouldn't I be
willing to see it die?
We headed out at first light -- six male adults
and two teenaged boys -- driving west from
Tallahassee, Fla. It was a crisp late December day,
blue-skied and just below freezing, and as we
drove, I savored the calming beauty of North
Florida's pine woodlands.
A day earlier, my brother-in-law, Tim, a
military veteran, had taken me to a woods near his
home for a crash course in marksmanship and gun
safety. It was a miracle to me that I regularly hit
the milk cartons we set up, and even more
astounding that on that very same day, the state of
Florida -- with no testing whatsoever -- issued me
a permit to shoot at living targets.
Now, as we emerged from our vehicles to begin
our hunt, I had to carefully observe my comrades to
ensure that I was holding my gun in the appropriate
Tim and I were the first shooters. My
father-in-law had hired a guide for our hunt, a
young man whose family had for more than a century
stalked deer, duck and bobwhite quail on their
2,000 acres of land. Tagging along with us was his
dog, Belle, a pointer whose job it would be to find
the quail and flush them out.
As we walked, waist-high in brush, into the
hunting field, I learned more about our prey. These
were not wild quail. Like cattle and chickens, they
had been raised for the kill. Released the previous
day from the huge pens in which they had been fed
and bred, their survival skills were limited.
Nonetheless, they could bob and weave in flight,
and I expected not to hit a single one. The first
three times Belle flushed a covey from the bushes,
my gun was barely up before the quail were out of
As we prepared for the next flush, however, I
summoned all my concentration. And when the birds
scattered, I found one in my line of sight.
Instinctively, I pulled the trigger. Pop! The
animal froze for a moment in mid-air, flipped, and
then tumbled from the sky.
When Belle brought the dead bird back to us, its
tiny head dangling from a puffy chest, that was
enough for me. I felt neither regret nor
exhilaration; I just knew that the hunt had given
me all it could.
And what was that? For one thing, it had offered
me a taste of the sport's allure -- the challenge,
the quiet, the unity of purpose among a group of
men. I also could begin to understand the dignity
possible in a sacred hunt, in which the hunter
enters the animal's natural habitat, patient,
reverent, attentive to the sounds and smells of the
Yet despite these positives, the hunt also
challenged my meat-eating way of life. I'd always
known, of course, that beef is cow and pork is pig,
but somehow, as I bit into a cheeseburger or
glazed-ham sandwich, I'd always managed to deny the
I no longer can. I still eat animals, and may
forever. But these days, just before I begin a meal
of meat, I'm connected to its source by a
persistent image of one quail's final desperate
moments: the shot, the flip, the flutter, and the
It's June, the season of migration for the children
Another year of school behind them, millions of
American kids are hauling duffel bags, favorite
pillows, and yes, grand expectations, as they flock
from Mom's house to Dad's. Otherwise ordinary men,
meanwhile, are changing their routines, habits, and
linens, as they prepare to take on the role of
Not that the fathers are complaining. Having
their children within arms reach - quite literally,
touchable - is pleasure enough for most of them.
Some speak of the almost primal contentment they
feel when they lay beside their kids in a tent,
nestle with them for a bedtime story, or gab with
them over a meal at a restaurant.
And yet, as any seasoned Summer Dad knows,
visits from the kids are not all sunshine. Routines
are upset; emotions roil; clashes are inevitable.
To help fathers make it through the normal
pressures of summer with the kids -- and to help
them realize the deeper pleasures -- several
experienced Summer Dads share what they've
Prime the Pump
Kids like to know what's coming. So the first
duty of a Summer Dad is to talk with your kids
before their visit starts; let them know what they
can expect from your time together.
Charles Metzker, a Kentucky father of two teens,
says that each spring he calls his sons to remind
them of the house-rules at his place, and to find
out what activities he should arrange for them.
Then, Metzker says, he tries to have extra patience
as he and his sons "find the comfort zone" for a
couple of weeks they're living together.
"The moms can really help in preparing the
children for summer, Metzker says. "I have a
good relationship with my ex-wife, and she makes a
big difference by building up positive expectations
as the kids prepare to come live with me."
There's an urge among many divorced fathers to
drop everything and spend each summer moment with
their kids. If you've got such an urge, experienced
dads say, squelch it.
"While their parents are important to them, kids
don't want constant attention, especially as they
get older," says Phil Holman, a divorced father of
two from Michigan. Holman's two teen-aged
daughters, he says, "want to sleep over at their
friends' houses, and spend a lot of time on their
own. I'm always reminding myself not to hold on too
Holman suggests that fathers slightly reduce
their daily work hours, if possible, and take some
vacation time over the summer. But otherwise, act
as normal as possible.
Having fun with the kids is the essence of the
season, and you can count on Summer Dads to take
their kids to amusement parks, baseball games,
movies, and the like. Henry Tyszka, of Michigan,
says that these can be great relationship-building
activities, but that fathers should also consider
quieter, more natural settings.
Tyszka recalls taking his son and daughter
camping when they lived with him several summers
ago. They're still talking about it. Tyszka also
found that his two daughters, who live in a big
city most of the year, had never been to the
country on a clear evening. "One night, we grabbed
a blanket and laid down and just looked up at the
sky," he recalls. "In my mind, I gave my kids the
Each child is different, and reacts differently
to summers with Dad. Summer Dads can take the
opportunity to talk individually with each child.
Some may want to talk directly about the divorce,
or family life; others will want to focus on
happier topics. Fathers should allow the child to
lead the way in these conversations, and not pry
where the child does not want to go.
John Davis of California says that while one of
his two sons was quiet and sullen in the first
summer after the divorce, the other was furious.
"Usually, his anger would surface around setting
limits," Davis recalls. "Eventually, we'd both end
up in tears.... It was cathartic. It was the
acknowledgment that we missed each other."
In addition to the heavy conversations, fathers
should spend some fun time alone with each child.
Metzker says that through the years, he's asked
friends to help with child-care so he can be alone
with one child for dinner or an activity. It is
while spending time one-on-one with each son,
Metzker says, that he sees the true flowering
of the kid's personality."
"There's a point where you start to ... feel the
pain of the separation," Metzker says. The kids
feel it too, he says, so it's important to
acknowledge what's happening, and to say good-bye
in an intentional way.
Metzker often does it by saving a special trip
for the end of the summer. Sometimes, hell
drive his kids back to their mother's home, several
hundred miles away. Holman says that on the weekend
before his kids leave his house, he'll usually sit
down and talk about how things went, and what each
person will carry with them through the year.
"It's a lot like a grief process," he says. "The
tendency is to ignore it, avoid it. But I think
it's best to recognize it, and take it as a rite of
Enjoy Your Freedom
While it's hard for him to admit, Davis says
that he sometimes looks forward to the end of
summer. "I have some feelings of relief," he
acknowledges. He's got his own life back. He can
see his own friends again. He can keep the
refrigerator stocked. Davis says, "Part of the
challenge in life is keeping a balance, and there
are some advantages in being a part-time
Should We Circumcise
I know it's wrong to take a newborn child, strap
him down so he cannot move his arms or legs, and
then, without anesthesia or a compelling medical
reason, slice off a perfectly healthy and
functional piece of an extremely sensitive body
I know it's wrong. Yet I still may do it to my
That's the power of the cultural pressure to
circumcise infant males.
These days, many American parents barely give
circumcision a second thought. Sometime during the
pregnancy, they decide that Junior should look like
Daddy, and so they give the go-ahead to "get it
over with" before the baby leaves the hospital.
As a writer on male issues, however, I bumped
into the other side of the circumcision debate long
before my wife became pregnant. And now, two months
before delivery, still not certain if it's a boy, I
find myself torn between my instinct to protect my
child from physical harm and the pressure to
The decision to circumcise wouldn't be so
difficult if there was a decisive medical reason to
While religious and ritual circumcision started
thousands of years ago, it wasn't until the
mid-19th century that U.S. doctors began doing
medical circumcisions, proclaiming them a cure for
masturbation, laziness, alcoholism and a host of
Nonsense, the American Academy of Pediatrics
finally said in 1971, when it deemed circumcision
medically unnecessary. By then, however, about 80
percent of male infants in the U.S. were having
their foreskins removed (compared to about 20
percent in the rest of the world).
Studies in the past few years have found that
circumcision may reduce urinary tract infections
and some sexually transmitted diseases, but the
Academy still does not recommend the procedure
routinely. Neither does baby doctor Benjamin Spock,
former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop and TV-radio
doctor Dean Edell.
Why not? Because, they claim, it's a painful and
unnecessary operation. (In most cases, anesthesia
is not used because it can cause complications in
Their argument goes something like this: If we
removed all healthy body parts because they might
someday become diseased, we'd be pulling healthy
teeth to prevent decay, amputating healthy breasts
to reduce cancer. We don't do these things because
teeth and breasts serve a purpose.
And so does the foreskin. It exists to protect
the head of the penis from becoming injured or
desensitized. There is even evidence that men with
foreskins experience a more intense sexual
So why would I even consider circumcision for my
Because, frankly, the pressure's on. Our doctor
recommends that a father and son "look the same."
Almost all of our friends have circumcised their
sons. And, while circumcisions in the U.S. have
steadily decreased in the last two decades, most
Jews still carry out the practice, even if they
don't do it in the traditional ceremony. (I'm
Jewish; my wife is not.)
So going ahead with circumcision would seem to
be the easier route for us. Yet if there's one
thing we've learned about parenting, even before
the birth of our first child, it is this: Don't
confuse our needs with the needs of our child.
Circumcising might be easier for us, but what
about him? Is it really "no big deal," or does it
have subtle, long-lasting effects on a boy's
psyche? Is being different from one's father really
damaging, or can problems be overcome by openly
discussing sexual issues? And what's worse: losing
the chance to be initiated into a religious
tradition, or losing a body part without one's
There are no right answers for these questions.
No study has been developed that can isolate the
impact of circumcision on a boy's future life.
But it seems to me that if my wife and I choose
to circumcise our son, we should do so only after
carefully answering these questions ourselves, and
not simply because it's the easiest thing to
What Sons Need From Their
I recently finished writing a book called Fatherloss,
for which I had the opportunity to interview 70 men
about how they dealt with the deaths of their
fathers. In the course of those interviews, I also
had the chance to ask about the fathers' lives.
Specifically, as the father of a 7-year-old son
myself, I wanted to know: What makes a good dad?
How does a father's role change through the
life-span? And what, if anything, can a father do
to help prepare his son for the father's death?
Here's what I learned:
In childhood, boys need from their fathers
something that can broadly be called
The men I interviewed didn't always use that
term. Affection has the connotation of holding,
cuddling, hugging, kissing, and other forms of
physical contact. And indeed, when that occurred
between a father and son, it seemed to have an
unusually positive effect on the child.
For many of the sons I spoke with, their fondest
memories of childhood were wrestling with their
dads, being tossed into the air or carried
piggy-back, or some other form of direct physical
One son told me: "On Saturday mornings, when my
dad had been gone all week, I'd climb into my
parents' bed. He had horrible breath in the
morning. We played a game where he tried to breathe
on me, and I hid." This son actually remembered
this game with fondness! It's an indication of how
much sons want to be close to their dads.
I wondered why wrestling, bad-breath games and
other physical affection so warmly remembered by
sons. I eventually came to see it this way:
Physical contact between a father and son gives the
son a close-up view of the beast he will one day
become: a man. The boy experiences, in his body and
bones, how a man moves, feels, smells. Just as
importantly, when the father's touch is playful and
loving, the son learns that men are strong, but
that strength can be harnessed, restrained, and
used in a safe way.
Of course, some fathers do not easily go to
physical affection. Perhaps they were raised
without such contact with their own fathers, and
find it alien, even unmanly. Fortunately, I
discovered in my conversations with sons that
affection could be administered in a variety of
ways. Ultimately, affection was less about
physicality than about loving attention by a father
toward his son.
Some fathers show affection by simply talking
with, and listening to, their sons. Others showed
it by playing chess, checkers, and other games with
their sons. Still others played catch, coached
little league teams, helped with confirmation or
Bar Mitzvah preparations, took their sons to
concerts, ball games and the like. The key was to
focus attention, especially on activities that the
When a son doesn't get affection, in any form,
from his father, the resulting wound can be deep
and lasting. Second only to the abuser in
generating resentment among the sons I interviewed
was the faraway father, the distant dad, the
patriarch who was unavailable or uninvolved.
Whether the father meant it or not, the message to
the son was clear: You dont matter.
One man's comment struck me a little close to
home because I love to read. A man I spoke with
told me this: "One of the memories I carry from
childhood is Dad's bookshelf. My dad read a lot. He
would come home from work, sit in his chair, and
read for most of the evening. Maybe it was his
escape.... Sometimes, I'd go to that wall of books,
and try to figure out what was there that was more
fascinating than me."
Now, I'm realistic. I don't expect myself, or
any other parent, to always be attentive to our
children. It's not possible, or even healthy. But
it has been good for me to pay attention to how
much I pay attention to my son, and to remember how
good for him it is to have my active presence in
If "affection" was the key word that arose when
sons described what they needed in childhood,
another single word captures the essence of what
adolescent and young adult sons need from their
One man I interviewed, a business executive,
said he received a traditional Mexican blessing - a
bendicion - from his father when the son left Texas
at age nineteen to look for work in California. The
blessing, which his father gave to him in Spanish,
affirmed that the son was ready for the journey
ahead, and called upon God and humankind to look
after him. It also softened the son's feelings
toward a father who had often been harsh and
In the introduction to my book, FatherLoss, I
speak of a blessing I received from my father when
I was 27. I was living at the time in Miami, near
my grandfather, my father's father. My grandfather
died suddenly, and I spent a day going through my
grandfather's apartment alongside my father. In the
course of the day, my father recognized that he
never heard his father express pride in him -- and
with the death, never would. So my father offered
me a blessing: He told me how proud he was of the
life I was creating, the choices I was making.
My father's blessing was especially important to
me because I was concerned that I'd disappointed
him. He'd put me through college, and then, five
years into my career, I'd quit a good job with no
plan for what I'd do next. When my father told me
he was proud of the choices I'd made, I took it to
mean that he supported me in my decision to stop
and re-evaluate my career direction. I felt the
pressure lift, and began to trust myself to make
the right next steps.
My father's expression of pride was
straight-forward, but blessings can be subtle too,
delivered, like affection, in ways unique to the
father and son involved.
One son told me he felt blessed when he was
asked for business advice by his father. Another
appreciated it when his father showed pride in the
son's selection of a wife, when the father enjoyed
playing with the son's children. Sons often felt
blessed when the father asked for help from the son
when he's sick or having a problem of some
One man I interviewed, who'd been beaten by his
doctor-father in childhood for failing in school,
steered clear of his dad for nearly twenty years
after leaving home. Then, when the son was in his
late thirties, he invited his father to visit him
at the son's home 2,000 miles away. The younger man
had become a carpenter, and during his father's
visit, led his dad on a tour of one of the
million-dollar homes for which he had crafted oak
staircases and cabinets.
The son recalled the awestruck look on his
father's face, and a blunt apology from his dad:
"I've underestimated you." In the years following,
the son accepted from his father fine tools as
gifts, and offered the older man advice on how to
build things out of wood.
And that was enough for the son. It seems, in
fact, that most sons will forgive almost anything
if they can hear - in whatever way, and at whatever
age - the genuine affirmation of their fathers.
In the course of my many interviews, there was
one more thing that sons said they needed from
their dads: a proper farewell. This need is
illustrated by the story of a man named Clyde.
Clyde was 34 years old when his father informed
him just before dinner together one night that he
was dying of cancer. The news "knocked me back like
a boxer," Clyde recalled. It had been just five
years since the two men had begun a reconciliation
following a long period of anger and estrangement.
In the weeks after his father's diagnosis, Clyde
visited the older man regularly, first at his
father's home, later in the hospital. And then the
father, a physician, took a sharp turn for the
In the father's hospital room one evening, a
memorable incident occurred. Clyde told me that
retelling it was "like walking on sacred
In the hospital room, Clyde had been sitting on
a couch a few feet from the side of his father's
bed. Clyde had been there for most of an hour, as
his father alternated between turbulent coughing
fits and labored breathing. The older man still
maintained his barrel chest, and full gray-black
beard. The skin on his face, however, as Clyde
could see from the couch, had become pasty and
During a break from his coughing, the father
reached out a hand toward Clyde. Clyde rose from
the couch and clasped the hand. He stood beside the
bed. For a long moment, the father gazed at his
son's face. Clyde noticed that father's eyes,
normally brown, had gone gray.
Then, in a gravelly voice, the father forced
from his ravaged throat the few words he felt he
had to say. Clyde recalled that they went like
this: "You've got a beautiful wife, and a gorgeous
child. You've got a good life. You're going to be
fine." The father then beheld his son's face again,
brought it to his own, and pressed his lips against
Clyde's cheek. Then he said: "Good-bye. Now get out
of here! Go, go, go!" He then released his son
toward the door.
Clyde left the room without looking back. He
wept as he drove home. Several hours later, his
step-mother called. Clyde's father was dead.
In retrospect, Clyde marveled at "how much
selfless effort it must have taken" for his dad,
"being pulled in the other direction," to offer
such a good-bye. Had the encounter not occurred,
Clyde told me, he would "probably have doubted a
lot of things. I would have wondered if he was
still angry. But I never worried about it.... (The
good-bye) reduced my mourning to the sadness of
Indeed, we may think that it's hardest to lose
family members we are close to. But my research
indicated that the sons who struggled the most with
the loss of a father, and for the longest time,
were those who were at odds with, or estranged
from, their dads. Instead of dealing with their
sadness after the loss, these sons were weighted
down by regrets, resentments, and guilt.
Which is why it matters that we fathers, if we
have a chance, offer this last gift to our children
- the gift of closure, completion, forgiveness,
Indeed, if we are able to be affectionate with
our young sons in whatever way is most comfortable
to us; if we can bless our children as they grow
into adulthood; and if we can say good-bye when the
time comes, we will, in my mind, have been the best
fathers we can possibly be.
Siblings and Rivalry: Do
You Like Your Brother?
Ever since Sigmund Freud had his say, the words
"sibling" and "rivalry" have been as inseparable as
the Smothers Brothers. Freud believed that siblings
and brothers, Especially had an
almost irresistible urge to compete with each
other, defeat each other, and strut around like
bantam roosters while they were at it.
Freud was not wrong. But his emphasis on rivalry
became a doctrine. And it left overshadowed and
understudied the less dramatic, but equally
significant, peacemaking that occurs between many
brothers as they mature out of their childhood
In her personal and perceptive book, Original
Kin, Philadelphia journalist Marian Sandmaier
takes us on a journey into the adult sibling bond,
uncovering the roots of its discontents and its
potential for change. In the end, she shows us that
adults who create close relationships with their
siblings tend to feel more secure, supported and
"There's an old cliche: 'You had to be there.'
Well, no one will ever be there in the same way as
a sibling," Sandmaier says. "The adult sibling
relationship is unique because it offers a rare
depth of mutual sympathy."
This has certainly been true between me and my
brother Leigh. Three years younger than me, Leigh
was my competitor from the start. We fought over
toys and friends and the lines that divided the
space in our common bedroom. We competed in sports,
chess and academics.
This rivalry, with its emotional and physical
tormenting, continued into our late adolescence.
Then, a family crisis struck. Our older brother
Almost immediately, my relationship with Leigh
began to change. Animosity gave way to an uneasy
alliance, then to a growing appreciation and,
finally, to a genuine friendship. We discovered
that once we put our enmity aside, we could talk
about family concerns, and our own lives, with an
understanding we could find nowhere else.
Now in our 40s, Leigh and I still have moments
of competition. But it no longer dominates the
relationship. Trust and affection have emerged as
equal partners. My wife and I named our first child
after Leigh; I was the best man at his wedding.
Sandmaier, who interviewed 80 siblings for her
book, says a family crisis -- the death of a
parent, for example -- often triggers this
transition from fighting to friendship. But some
brothers, she adds, end their rivalry naturally in
their 30s or 40s, as they discover that perpetual
competition (in business as well as relationships)
can be wearing and unrewarding.
Sometimes, Sandmaier says, one brother will
refuse to make peace. The past may be too painful
for him, or the present too hectic. Often, however,
a simple phone conversation or dinner together can
help brothers begin to shed the armor that once
seemed necessary for survival, but now keeps them
Sandmaier offers no further prescription for
breaking the sibling barrier; each relationship has
a different set of dynamics. But she says that in
her interviews with adult brothers, she witnessed a
joy and ease in those who had put their differences
"There was a great deal of hilarity and joking
around," she recalls. "There seemed to be a lot of
pleasure in their being together, and a deep sense
of satisfaction. Each seemed to be saying to the
other: 'I know who you are, and I like you that
What is/was your relationship with your
siblings? Write to me at E-Mail.
Dumping the Soul Mate
Valentines Day is here and with it, the
annual fluttering about the importance of finding
your soul mate. A recent university-sponsored
survey of 20-somethings discovered that 90 percent
believe that when you marry, you want your spouse
to be your soul mate, first and foremost.
I used to agree with this statement. Now I think
Its not that I discount those first-blush,
super-energized shivers of heat and hope. And
its great when a new love seems to understand
everything we say, and even some of what we
But neither chemical attraction nor spiritual
connection constitutes a soul mate.
I learned this recently while interviewing
face-to-face for a book on married men
60 American husbands about their
relationships. A dozen of these men had been
married for 50 years or longer; one had been with
his wife for an unfathomable 72 years.
And what did these experienced husbands have to
say about younger men and women who are searching
for a soul mate? Two words: Stop it.
Indeed, the collective wisdom of the men I
surveyed could be put quite simply: You dont
find a soul mate. You create one.
Chemical attraction is one ingredient in this
creation, no doubt. And yes, youve got to be
able to talk to, dream with, and share values with
the other person. But the most important ingredient
in developing a soul mate, husbands told me, is
It may take 30 or 40 years, or more. Soul-mate
status comes not just from sharing euphoric
moments, but from enduring tragedy and
disillusionment as well. Together, soul-mates
suffer money problems, and illnesses, and seasons
without sex. Sometimes they even fall out of love
for a time.
One of the wisest men I interviewed for my book
was a man named David Popenoe of New Jersey. When
we spoke, he was 71 years old, and had been married
for 44 years. In his day job, he was co-director of
the National Marriage Project at Rutgers
In my conversation with Popenoe, when I first
brought up the concept of soul mates, he
harrumphed. He said people seeking soul-mates
usually are setting themselves up for a fall.
Thats because few partners can live up to the
expectations that the term implies.
And then Popenoe offered what may be the best
advice I heard for those who are determined to have
a soul-mate relationship: Spend less time trying to
find the right mate, and more time trying to be the
At some point in the childhood of almost every
American male, a boy encounters the centerfold. My
introduction occurred sometime in junior high, when
a savvy older friend handed me a wad of well-worn
papers and told me to "take these and have some
I frankly didn't know what they were until hours
later, walking home, when I pulled them from my
pocket, stopped on the sidewalk, and gaped. It was
a confusing moment. I was captivated, but also
perplexed. I couldn't stop wondering why in the
world this young, pleasant-looking woman was
putting her body on display.
Eventually, I stopped caring about that woman,
and began to relate primarily to her parts. In so
doing, says Texas psychologist Gary R. Brooks, I
joined the legions of American males afflicted with
"the centerfold syndrome."
Brooks coined that phrase -- and has written a
new book by that name -- to describe how
heterosexual males become obsessed with women's
body parts. He says that while men's interest in
sexuality is inborn, the manner in which we act out
our sexuality is learned behavior.
"In our society, men generally learn to pair
orgasm with visions of naked, air-brushed women,"
Brooks says. "And we can learn to unpair the
Why would a man want to?
Brooks says that men under the influence of the
centerfold syndrome become virtual lapdogs in the
company of an attractive woman. They're willing to
compromise their ntegrity, and their safety, by
having sex with women they don't know or like. And
they often feel depressed or guilty after these
Married men with the syndrome, meanwhile, tend
to be jealous of men with centerfold-like wives,
Brooks says. And they sometimes feel cheated when
their own wives gain weight, develop stretch marks,
or in some other way diverge from the cultural
symbols of beauty.
This was the case about 20 years ago with Brooks
After 15 years of marriage, Brooks, then in his
late-30s, began to notice signs of aging in his
wife. He found himself obsessing on those signs,
becoming angry with his wife, and even pressuring
her to change.
Eventually, he realized that this was not his
wife's problem, but his own. Like many males
growing up in post- war America, Brooks had learned
about women's bodies primarily from pornography,
James Bond movies and older male acquaintances. His
earliest relationships with women, he recalls,
often ended when he no longer could accept their
Now nearing midlife, however, Brooks saw that if
he wanted his marriage to last, he'd have to let go
of perfection. He stopped masturbating with images
of naked strangers, and started fantasizing about
sex with someone he cared about. He retrained his
mind, and his body, to de-emphasize a woman's
Today, his early conditioning still emerges at
But he says his definition of beauty has
broadened to include "the woman as a whole" -- her
tenderness, openness and strength, as well as her
body. Meanwhile, he says, sex has never been
"When I was worried about perfection, there was
a let- down after sex," Brooks says. "There's
always a physiological let-down, but this was
emotional. I'd feel depressed and alienated. Now,
sex is more communicative. There's less haste, less
pretending. Afterward, I have a feeling of comfort
To some men, comfort and connection in sex are
not high priorities. To them, "The Centerfold
Syndrome" (Jossey-Bass) may read like the
rationalizations of a middle- aged man who still,
deep-down, wants to sleep with Misses January
In fact, though, by revealing his own sexual
insecurities, Brooks gives depth to his
intellectually insightful book. And he gives hope
to those men who seek genuine sexual fulfillment in
a culture that distorts, perverts and attempts to
profit from our most intense and sacred
The Value of Dad
If you want to know how a man will treat his wife,
look at his relationship with his mother. This
apparent nugget of wisdom has been around long
enough to gain almost unquestioned acceptance. Yet,
despite two years of investigation, I have
discovered no evidence to back it up.
On the other hand, in a study I recently
completed for VoiceMale (Simon & Schuster), a
book on men and marriage, I found striking
confirmation for an alternative hypothesis: If you
really want to know how a man will treat his wife,
look at his relationship with his father.
My dad had a high kindness quotient,
a 43-year-old public relations manager told me,
reflecting the perspective of many other men. When
it comes to his marriage, this man said, I
try to be every inch my fathers
Its understandable that we would link a
mans relationship with his wife to his bond
with his mother. After all, mothers and wives are
women; thus, a mans attitudes toward one
might seem likely to mirror his attitudes toward
I began my research expecting to confirm this
conventional wisdom. Working with the University of
Kentucky Survey Research Center, I conducted a
national survey of 288 American husbands of all
ages and backgrounds, as well as face-to-face
interviews with 70 additional married men.
I was startled by the findings. The quality of a
mans relationship with his mother, it turned
out, did not predict the quality of his marriage.
Sons who had good relationships with their mothers
were just as likely as those who had poor
relationships to argue with their wives, to
separate from their wives, and to get divorced.
Then came the second survey surprise: The
quality of a mans marriage, my survey showed,
was strongly correlated with the quality of his
relationship with his dad. Men who had good bonds
with their fathers tended to be the most happily
married. They also, not incidentally, tended to
divide the housework more fairly, argue more
fairly, require less marital counseling, and
divorce less often.
In retrospect, I probably shouldnt have
been surprised. Men learn how to be men and
how to relate to women by watching their
fathers. As a 30-year-old schoolteacher told me:
I think about how my dad handled various
situations all the time. I think about how he
reacted to things, how he spoke, how he managed
when he was angry. He is a constant gauge
something I can measure myself against.
This is not to say that men who have experienced
poor fathering are condemned to be poor husbands.
Indeed, some of the most heroic stories I heard
while researching my book were about men who
overcame the abuse of a violent father or
the emptiness left behind by an absent one
to become loving husbands.
But the research reminds those of us who are
fathers, especially fathers of sons: How we treat
our wives and children today may echo for
generations to come.
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