As Father’s Day approaches (June 20th), I want to talk about Good Dad Energy. Lots of us didn’t have very good dads: some of us had distant dads, absent dads or even abusive dads. We didn’t have great role models for masculinity.
For most of us, our dads become what we expect men to be. When we’re growing up, unless we have some other great male energy around us, we look to our dad to answer questions like: “Is this what men are like?” “Is this how I should be?” “Is this what a father/son/husband does?”
It really doesn’t matter if we’re male or female, LGBTQ or straight, everyone grows up and has to figure out what they expect from boys/men/males. If we’re men who love men, it makes it a bit more complicated: as young queer boys, we look at our dads as both:
(#1) The types of men we want to fall in love with, and
(#2) Who we, ourselves, want to grow up to be.
Young straight women focus on #1; their male counterparts focus on #2.
Queer women focus on neither #1 or #2, instead, seeing their dads as examples of what men – in general – are like and what we can expect from them.
Regardless of gender and sexual orientation, every one of us has to determine how we express our masculine side: Good Dad Energy affects everybody.
Who has Good Dad Energy? A person who:
- Encourages us
- Shows us how to trust ourselves
- Reminds us that “you can do it” when we doubt ourselves
- Appreciates things and doesn’t let his children (or anyone) take what they have for granted
- Understands that times, people and tastes change over the years
- Accepts that everyone is unique
- Spends quality time with people
- Leads by example
- Is supportive and loyal
- Challenges you to be the best you can be
- Shows unconditional love
Good Dad Energy is not gender-based. Look at any couple with children and, regardless of gender, one of the parents has Good Dad Energy. And, in opposite sex couples, it may even be the woman!
As Father’s Day approaches, let’s give each other lots of Good Dad Energy. Regardless of our age, gender or life experience, we can share these qualities with the people in our lives. Here are some examples:
A lesbian couple I work with has a young son who joined a local swim team. After a few weeks, the son told his moms, “This is too hard. I want to quit.” The Mom with Good Dad Energy encouraged her son to hang there a little longer, saying, “Honey, it’s only been a few weeks. Could you give it just a little more time?” He did, finding his niche. He’s now a happy member of that swim team. Being on the team has improved his self-esteem and helped this shy boy to make new friends. Good Dad Energy: Encouragement.
Every year, at Pride, there are lots of beautiful young people parading around Hillcrest. As a queer elder of 67, I hear a lot of my peers labelling these young Gods and Goddesses as “sluts” or “exhibitionists”. I feel sorry for these elders who have lost the ability to be happy for others who have gifts/abilities that they don’t. Why not be happy for people who are different, younger or even more beautiful than you? Good Dad Energy: Honoring the uniqueness in others.
It’s really tempting to live life glued to your phone. Even when you’re talking with friends, a part of your attention is on the phone. One client of mine turns his phone off when he’s with other people. He wants to give them his undivided attention. Good Dad Energy: Spending real quality time with people.
We’ve all had friendships that have gone through rough times. How many of us hang in there and don’t give up? Years ago, my friend Gail told me, “I never give up on anybody. I’m always willing to forgive and forget. It’s not easy, but lots of my friendships have had ‘rough’ spots where we simply need some time apart. I always am happy to welcome people back into my life and love them again.” Good Dad Energy: Giving unconditional love.
As Father’s Day approaches, whoever we are, whether we had a great Dad or a lousy one, let’s give each other lots of Good Dad Energy…now, and all year-long.
—Michael Kimmel is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in helping LGBT clients achieve their goals and deal with anxiety, depression, grief, sexually addictive behavior, coming out, relationship challenges and homophobia. Contact him at 619-955-3311 or visit lifebeyondtherapy.com.