Why I’m Glad to Bear the Burden of Fatherlessness

While writing The Father Effect: Hope and Healing from a Dad’s Absence, I was reminded of the many voices that have spoken truth into my life over the last decade. These men and women have shaped who I’ve become as a man, husband, and father, and I’m thrilled that many of them are in my documentary and my book.

Dr. Meg Meeker, who graciously wrote the foreword for my book and who’s featured in both my documentary and book, recently released another stellar book, Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need. It’s a book I absolutely recommend reading in tandem with The Father Effect.

During the filming of the documentary, I was personally challenged by Dr. Meeker’s words about fathering daughters. As a dad to three daughters, I felt the weight of her words like a yoke upon my shoulders. I just hoped I could live up to being the kind of father she described.

John Eldredge has long been a champion of those hurt by fatherlessness. His perennial bestseller Wild at Heart opened men’s eyes to who they longed to be. I was thrilled to have him be an integral part of my Father Effect documentary, where his words challenged me to better understand how much of an impact I have on my three daughters based on the way I treat my wife and any other women in my life.

The first time I encountered the phrase “father wound” was in Gordon Dalbey’s Healing the Masculine Soul: God’s Restoration of Men to Real Manhood. I read that book in 2007, and I was shocked to learn that this “father wound” thing had been named fifteen years earlier, as if a person’s lifelong ache for a relationship with their father was a recent discovery.

Dalbey has written much about men and fatherhood. His words in my documentary and within my book again placed a burden upon me that was almost too great to bear. Through him, I came to understand just how widespread and devastating the issue of fatherlessness really is. I felt a heaviness brought on by the sheer numbers of people who must daily deal with the repercussions of losing their dad to death, divorce, or disinterest.

Through John Eldredge, Meg Meeker, Gordon Dalbey, and many more, I feel the heaviness of the seriousness of fatherlessness. But even though it burdens me, it does not weigh me down.

This is a burden I’m willing to bear because I know it’s not mine alone. There are many people who have likewise suffered, but they have endured the pain and have grown stronger as a result. You may very likely be one of those people.

Know that by asking for help with humility that we sometimes have to fake, we can all become better men, better husbands, and better dads—together.

John Finch is the author of The Father Effect: Hope and Healing from a Dad’s Absence and creator and storyteller of The Father Effect Movie.