So much is written about the importance of the mother/child relationship, the damage that
can result from this being troubled, the influence of the attachment in this relationship
being brought to bear on future relationships and so on, but, much less is written about the
How important is the role of the father? How much does his presence or absence impact
on our development?
Fathers can be physically present or absent and/or emotionally present or absent. Many
children grow up without the physical and supportive emotional presence of a father. As a
result of this, they seem to struggle more with issues of identity and self-esteem as they
move onwards and upwards into adulthood than their counterparts who have fathers who
are around in both senses.
According to Ian Gordon-Brown, (Journey in Depth, 2002) the father is chiefly concerned
with identity, effecting it at every level. His role is about vocation, knowledge, looking at
the present and the future. Father is linked with the head, the rational, thoughts – the Will,
in Psychosynthesis terms. This implies that it is the father that facilitates our breaking out
of the nurturing relationship with our mother and moving forward into our futures, our
careers, our relationships. Whereas mother might want to hold on, father wants to
encourage us forward.
Fathers can be associated with the bottom line in discipline, the “wait until your father gets
home” threat. They can, fairly or unfairly, be lumbered with taking a huge amount of
responsibility for the practical areas of everyday life. They can also be weak, unengaged
and opt out of responsibility.
We need, also, to remember that fathers have their own context. Their relationships with
their fathers and grandfathers, their understanding of what it is to be men, how they
learned how to be men, to be fathers, particularly as, within the last century, there have
been not only two world wars but also, more recently, huge pressures on them to shift from
the status quo of their roles.
As with our relationship with our mother, our relationship with our father warrants our
attention. We are inevitably impacted by his presence or absence, and, we can learn that,
whatever the relationship or lack of one, there is the potential for deepening our
understanding of our father and ourselves. There may be wounds as a result of that
relationship or lack of it, and, as well as those wounds, we may discover some gifts.
Siobhan Tinker and Brian Graham are holding a workshop: The Wounds and Gifts of the
Father at the Psychosynthesis Trust on Saturday, 18th April, 2015. For more information
and a booking form, please contact Siobhan : firstname.lastname@example.org