As Father’s Day approaches, I usually spend some self-care time in the garden and reflect on where I trace my gardening and psychotherapy roots. Both my mother and father were gardeners and both worked in the field of psychology. They both used gardening as a metaphor for life and I found myself noticing this same thought process in myself.
I am always curious what I will experience on Father’s Day. It has been an annual reminder of my own father’s death when I was seven years old. Some years, I have not even noticed it was Father’s Day. Other years, I feel a mixture of emotions around my dad not being alive to celebrate. Growing into my teen years, it was a lonely journey into manhood without my father’s advice, guidance, and support.
This absence of a male role model in my life forced me to consider what allows males to grow into strong, healthy, confident, and respectful men. Through this weeding out of false and shortsighted messages about masculinity, I have grown into the man I am today.
A core part of this journey into masculinity and teaching other men how to embrace their masculinity has occurred through becoming a parent myself. This is my third father’s day as a dad and I have a second son arriving this summer. From parenting, I have learned more life lessons than I can count, but the one that stands out the most is there has to be growth and change in order for life to flourish. As my garden takes time and effort to grow, the same is true with myself as a man and father. If I do not approach parenting with creativity, enthusiasm, and a responsibility to teach my son how to interact in the world, then I am not rising to the challenge of fatherhood. When faced with growth and adversity, most people are prone to choose to maintain status quo. In a new generation of men who are able to offer the world an inspiring version of masculinity, I find myself constantly seeking supportive and positive guidance to raise my son.
My work as a psychotherapist focuses on clinical sex therapy and masculinity, helping men grow more in touch with their emotions and sexuality. Most of my male clients report very little conversation about sex with their fathers, and struggle to know how to communicate with their own children around these same uncomfortable topics. Just as any gardener spends hours weeding out the things that are restricting growth, fathers are offered the opportunity to clear out their patterns and emotional struggles to be more present for their children.
This brings me back to my point about rising to the challenge of parenting. It is not an easy thing to do, but if you can meet this challenge head on then you are able to offer your children experiences that encourages them to grow and expand into mature and responsible adults. Just as you can create fertile soil, encouraging plants to thrive, fathers can inspire children to develop in positive and creative ways.
As I reflect on Father’s Day as a celebration of fatherhood, I also see it as a call to action for men. Can we choose to face our own problematic patterns and struggles, accept the challenge, and be the best example of masculinity and fatherhood? Can we demonstrate a strength, purpose, and creativity that our children are thirsty for? Or are we going to let opportunities pass us by?
I encourage all fathers to think of how they are going to rise to the challenge of raising a new generation of men. What is one way you can interact differently with your child that will have a positive outcome? Where do you need to grow so that you can offer the support and guidance your children need from you? Father’s Day offers us the chance to both celebrate and expand on the role of being a father in our children’s lives.
Daniel Lebowitz, M.A. is a bilingual sex therapist with a Master’s degree in Marriage
and Family Therapy. He is a registered psychotherapist with the state of Colorado.
Daniel and Dr. Jenni operate as a husband-wife team at The Intimacy Institute offering
clinical sex therapy separately and together in co-therapy sessions. When Daniel is not
in the office, he enjoys life in the beautiful Front Range of Colorado. As an avid
outdoorsman, he finds the mountains bring life’s priorities back into perspective. His
lifelong practice in martial arts has taught him about the humble path of the warrior.
With a deep love for sustainable and healthy living, Daniel enjoys spending time with his
wife and son, growing food and creating culinary art and adventures.
You can read more about him at: http://theintimacyinstitute.org/meet-the- team/daniel/