There is a trauma wound affecting more people than drugs or alcohol combined. It cuts deeper than flesh and bone, and works it’s way to the soul. It affects both the rich and poor alike without prejudice. It is the father wound, and it leaves a wake of destruction in its path more devastating than any natural disaster.
Defining The Problem
While the “father wound” is not an official counseling and psychology term, many professionals within these fields will recognize and address the gaping hole from this wound.
What is the father wound? Every person has a deep longing in their heart to hear from their father the same words Christ heard from His Father, “This is my beloved Son (or daughter), in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt 3:17; 17:5). It is a deep longing to know we have pleased our father.
The father wound is the deficiency or absence of love from your birth father, whether intentional or unintentional.
This wound can be the result of:
- Abuse – Abuse is prevalent in many fashions: verbal, physical, emotional, mental, sexual, or spiritual. It often finds expression through controlling behavior and oppressive domination as well.
- Absence – Such as divorce, separation, abandonment, or even death
- Addiction – When addiction is present within a family unit, particularly in this instance with the father figure, it can create a rift in the father-child relationship.
- Neglect – Neglect can be the result of passivity or purposeful withholding of love and affirmation, which leads to a deep feeling of unimportance, and/or a lack of self-acceptance.
While salvation makes us whole spiritually and brings us into right relationship with The Father, many times it does not remediate the emotional and psychological damage left by your father.
The Effects Of The Father Wound
The effects of the father wound are farther reaching than what many would suspect. It touches everything from marriage to addiction, from education to behavior, and new evidence even suggests it affects us genetically.
You see we have children growing up in homes with broken fathers, or many even without fathers. Because of the reasons mentioned above, we have broken men, passing on a deficiency of brokenness to their children, and its toll is staggering.
Statistics from the Fathers Unite Campaign show that children from fatherless homes are:
- 5 times more likely to commit suicide
- 32 times more likely to run away
- 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
- 14 times more likely to commit rape
- 9 times more likely to drop out of high school
- 20 times more likely to end up in prison
Those statistics only scratch the surface of the father wound. Let’s dive in to some of the other aspects of its reach.
See more stats HERE.
In America we have a painful divorce rate of roughly 40-50%. Why is this? We have men growing up that don’t know how to be husbands and fathers. We have women who are attempting to heal father issues with marriage, and think it is acceptable to remain in abusive relationships.
They are broken boys in the shells of men, leading broken relationships.
The cycle of pain and brokenness is perpetuated because marriage is viewed as a contract, rather than a covenant. The pain from neglect, abuse, addiction, or the absence of a father takes its toll on the marriage relationship.
I have seen too many men and women run into marriage without addressing the pain from their own father wound. We have men who were never shown how to love a woman as an equal co-laborer. We have women who were never shown how to be loved by a man. We have couples that are retaliating against each other from wounds neither of them inflicted on each other.
The divorce rate results speak for themselves.
According to How Big Are They, the porn industry is worth approximately $97 billion. Yes, billion, with a B. It makes more money than Major League Baseball, The National Football League and The NBA combined.
We have men and women spending more money on pornography than three major sports put together. This doesn’t even include the rampant availability of free pornographic material available on the web. I’m not going to discuss the problems with pornography, because I have already done that elsewhere.
What I do want to show is how the father wound is creating a painful deficiency within men and women. They are attempting to satisfy the feeling of unworthiness and insufficiency through carnal lust. The problem is that it is only a temporary endorphic taste of relief from a much deeper pain.
The rampant use of pornography has escalated with a much more physical ramification. That is the verbal and sexual harassment and assault of women on a regular basis.
The #Metoo Campaign
I believe the #metoo campaign of violence and harassment against women is the direct result of a manifestation of the father wound in men.
They are insecure and broken and do not know how to properly treat a woman. They treat women carnally rather than spiritually.
Women are viewed as another product to be disposed of, rather than a creature made in the image of God to be cherished and respected as a co-laborer in God’s work.
Because of the wound left by fathers, sons do not know how to properly treat a woman. There are many “good dads,” but if you are a father that fails to teach your son how to respect women, you are adding to the problem.
The Genetic Effects of The Father Wound
Fathers play an important role in the development of children. God designed it that way through the duality of creation. They play a greater role than to fulfill the “wait until your father comes home” threat.
What I am about to share is another reason why science and faith do not have to stand at odds with each other, rather science and faith can support each other. A study by Princeton and Columbia shows the cellular stress incurred by the loss of a father.
On the end of your Chromosomes are a protective cap called telomeres. Scientists believe these telomeres are responsible for your overall health, and even your lifespan.
As a result, they discovered overall that children who grew up without a father in the home for whatever reason experienced 14% telomere shortening. Children whose father had died had 16% shorter telomere than children whose fathers were alive and living with them. The shortening effects are also highly pronounced (10%) when a father is incarcerated before his child turns five…The research shows that shortening is particularly present in boys, whose telomeres are 40% more affected by father loss than girls – also not surprising. Boys with father loss have a biological propensity toward anxiety, depression, or pronounced sensitivity to their environment. – AFA.net
Fathers are not just necessary for mental, emotional, and spiritual health. They also play a vital role to the overall health and well being of children, especially boys.
The Spiritual Significance Of The Father Wound
Behind the scenes of broken marriages and fatherlessness lies a much grander scheme. Scripture tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). The struggle we are facing is not pitting fathers against children.
The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), and the family unit, (including marriage and parent child relationships) is on the front line of that spiritual attack. The enemy attempts to inflict the father wound because of his jealousy of mankind being God’s image bearers and his children.
If the devil can get fathers to wound their sons and daughters through neglect of portraying the Father’s love, they will project that wound upon God. As humans the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wound inflicted by a father’s deficient or absent love gets blamed on God.
How many atheists are walking around projecting on to God the hurt from their earthly fathers?
How many Christ followers are walking in fear of a loving God, because of a legalistic and over-bearing dad?
While counseling and coaching may be necessary, deeper spiritual healing must take place before any level of wholeness can be reached, and the cycle of pain can be stopped.
How To Heal From The Father Wound
Healing from a deep wound is never easy; just ask a stab or gunshot wound victim. The father wound cuts deeper than even those; it cuts to the heart.
I know how this pain feels. I’ve been there, and at times I still feel the pain, like an amputee that feels phantom pains after a limb is removed. I’ve never really had a good relationship with my dad, and even at times not one at all. My prayer is that what lies below will give you some encouragement, and set your heart on a path of healing.
Go to The Father, The Healer Of Your Heart
If you consider yourself a believer, then you have been adopted as a child of God.
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” – Romans 8:15
You have not only the opportunity, but also the privilege of coming before God. The maker of heaven and earth, who knows every star by name, and has the hairs of your head numbered. His love for you is immeasurable.
The first step to healing is to believe the new story Christ has written about your life. You are a child of God, with a Father who will never leave, nor forsake you.
It doesn’t matter if you resemble the prodigal son, or the eldest son. The Father loves you the same. Now it is time to invite Him into the wound that is festering within your spirit.
1 Peter 2:24 tells us, “for by His wounds you were healed,” and while Peter’s reference here is towards spiritual healing and salvation, it goes much deeper than that.
The Greek word in Strong’s Concordance for “you were healed,” is iaomai, which means not only to cure and to heal, but also to make whole. The Greek word sozo which is where we get our word “saved,” carries the same implication. It means: heal, preserve, save, be made whole.
If you are not a believer, the first step is coming to God to begin a relationship with The Father, so he can begin a healing process from your father.
The next step is to forgive your father, so that healing can continue.
When a deep injury is done to us, we never heal until we forgive. – Nelson Mandela
The longer you hold on to unforgiveness, the longer the pain will control your life. They say holding onto unforgiveness/bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
When you forgive your father for his negligence, abuse, abandonment, or any other wound he created, you are exemplifying the God’s forgiveness to us.
God forgave us of every wretched thing we have done, and continue to do. As you are changed into His likeness, share that same forgiveness with your father. Even if you never get the opportunity to say it to him personally, forgive him.
Determine in your mind and heart you have forgiven him so you can heal.
Tell Yourself A New Narrative
The third step is to tell yourself a new narrative about yourself, and your worth.
As long as you accept the negative words your father spoke over you, you will never heal.
As long as you believe the narrative in your mind that you are not good enough for your father, you will never heal.
Define yourself as a child of God who has created you for a purpose. His purpose. To bear His image, and to be living stone in His home.
Tell yourself the narrative:
- I am loved
- I am forgiven
- I am accepted
- I am worthy
- I am God’s creation
- I have been redeemed
- I can trust The Father
- He will never leave me or forsake me
- I have an eternal inheritance as a child of God
- NOTHING can separate me from the love of God
You may not believe it at first, but the longer your tell yourself this new narrative the more you will believe it. The more you believe it, the faster you will heal and grow.
I’m not saying these three steps are an end all cure all for the pain of the father wound, but they lay a sturdy foundation for you to build a better future upon.
Until you heal, you will suffer, your marriage will suffer, and your kids will suffer. Don’t perpetuate the cycle; start healing today.
A Word To Fathers
Fathers, your role in the lives of your children and spouse is more important than you may have ever realized. Your words and your very presence create mental, spiritual, emotional, and even genetic change.
Even the slightest seed of neglect can blossom into a tree that casts as shadow over every area of your child’s life. It may not manifest today. It may not manifest tomorrow, but eventually the wound will fester.
You have the opportunity to make better sons and better daughters. You have the opportunity to stop the infection of the father wound from spreading to another generation. Tell your kids how proud of them you are. Tell them you love them, but most of all build them up in the Lord.
You have the power to influence generations and multitudes. Don’t fall in to the trap of passivity. Be a man that reflects the Father’s heart.
Men, by God’s grace and your actions we can raise better sons and daughters for a better tomorrow.
My prayer for each of you is that if the father wound has been inflicted upon your heart, that you will begin to heal today. Ladies, you are beautiful, smart, and worthy of respect from men, and you are worthy of respect from yourself. Men, you are good enough, you are strong and wise and brave. Go forward towards healing; go forward towards the Father’s heart, so you can share His story…better.