The biggest reason that you may not know the real you is what I call a Father Fracture. As I will explain, you get your identity from your father. This can be a problem, as you will see from my wife’s comments below.
In your formative years, your father is supposed to be your source of protection, your source of provision, and your source of trust. He is supposed to teach you how to play, how to take risks, and how to empathize with others. He is supposed to love you unconditionally, providing you with confidence in who you are, and giving you real self-worth.
But what if your dad didn’t provide you with those things, what if he wasn’t there for you, or what if you never knew your father? What if the whole idea of a father makes you feel abandoned, rejected, fearful, or angry? Then from where do you get your confidence?
The fact is that many people have never known unconditional love and approval from a father. They have no idea what they are missing—a real sense of identity, not based on performance, but on who you are. They have a broken concept of a father–a Father Fracture.
How can you know unconditional love and acceptance when you have never experienced it? How can you know this vital part of your identity if you don’t know it is missing? It is a critical part of being able to discover the one talent you possess that can be developed to greatness as determined by your very unique way of thinking…your GIFT.
How A Father Fracture Occurs
A Father Fracture can occur for a variety of reasons:
Your father may have been in the home, but he wasn’t really there for you.
Maybe you never knew your father, or he died when you were young.
He might have deserted your family.
Maybe your parents divorced, and you felt it was your fault.
Maybe you had an abusive father.
He might have made you earn his affection or approval by performing well in school or in sports.
Maybe nothing you did could ever please him.
You might have been embarrassed by your father because he didn’t live up to your expectations.
No matter the situation, it wasn’t good. So, how does that make you feel when someone talks about a “father”? Probably not great.
A Father Fracture is important to recognize in yourself because you get your identity from your father. When I say that to people it is like dropping a bomb. That’s exactly what I thought the first time I heard it. Most of us instinctively know how much our identity is influenced by our fathers, but if you had a bad or absent dad it is kind of hard to admit.
Your father is supposed to love you unconditionally, providing you with confidence in who you are, and giving you real self-worth. If you grew up with any kind of a Father Fracture, realizing that you missed these things could be a shock, but it could also explain the hole in your heart that needs to be filled. Most of us have a Father Fracture to some degree, but most of us either don’t realize it or don’t want to admit it.
I can still remember where I was sitting in our church the first time I heard the pastor say that a child gets their identity from their father. I was stunned. As a teenager and into my mid-twenties I had run wild, going from relationship to relationship, sometimes with devastating consequences, and I never really understood why. The instant the pastor spoke those words I had complete clarity about why I had done the things I’d done. The reason was my identity was a mess. I’m not excusing my behavior or its consequences but understanding the “why” of what I had done went a long way to helping me heal.
I was teaching the idea of finding your purpose to a group of law enforcement leaders a while ago, and all was going well…until I got to the subject of the Father Fracture. The room grew quiet and faces changed. Some looked inquisitive as if I had sparked their interest, while others withdrew. Since these leaders are on the front lines, dealing with the results of Father Fractures that have gone wrong in their communities, many were keenly interested to know more. Others had the wound of their own Father Fracture exposed.
After the training event was over, several of the seasoned cops came up to me privately. They each mentioned that they thought what I said was true, even if it picked a few scabs. What they wanted to know was if I could prove it. Was there evidence or proof that the Father Fracture was real and that one’s identity comes from their father? They were interested in the Father Fracture for themselves, but they intuitively understood how this idea had an effect on the communities they dealt with daily.
Well, it turns out there is plenty of evidence, and it is a huge problem that is only getting worse. The challenge is that no one wants to touch this issue with a ten-foot pole.
David Blankenhorn wrote Fatherless America in 1995 and since the book was published the issues he described have only gotten worse. He wrote a seminal book about the effects of fathers abandoning their roles in the family and how it is reshaping societies worldwide. He writes, “Tonight, about 40 percent of American children will go to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live. Before they reach the age of eighteen, more than half of our nation’s children are likely to spend at least a significant portion of their childhoods living apart from their fathers. Never before in this country have so many children been voluntarily abandoned by their fathers.”
He goes on to say, “The United States will be a nation divided into two groups, separate and unequal. The two groups will work in the same economy, speak the same language, and remember the same national history. But they will live fundamentally divergent lives. One group will receive benefits–psychological, social, economic, educational, and moral–that are denied to the other group.
The primary fault line dividing the two groups will not be race, religion, class, education, or gender. It will be patrimony. One group will consist of those adults who grew up with the daily presence and provision of fathers. The other group will consist of those who did not. By the early years of the next century (2000) the two groups will be the same size.”
One of the things I found remarkable is that until the mid-1800’s it was the father, not the mother, that had the primary responsibility for child-rearing, religious and moral education, and societal guidance. It was industrialization that caused the change. Once fathers had to go to work in a factory, as opposed to working on the family farm or business and had to be away from the family all day, these roles shifted to mothers. I point this out because we often assume that the way things are today is how they have always been, but that is simply not true.
The role of mothers has always been one of nurturing. If you look up the etymology of the word nurture it means to nourish. The love we receive from our mothers stems from the close and intimate relationship that comes from breastfeeding as a baby, and then from the meals mothers prepare for their families. Only after fathers began working away from the home (as during the industrial revolution) did the primary role of child-rearing shift from fathers to mothers. Believe it or not, it is still within fathers to want to play a significant role in their children’s upbringing. But for this to happen, there needs to be a dad at home.
Blankenhorn’s book focuses on the cultural effects of fatherlessness, which are enormous. His book does not take into account the role that faith in God has on fatherhood or the Judeo-Christian beliefs of the role of a husband and father. Nor does it does take into account the Judeo-Christian view of adultery and divorce. Nevertheless, he points out that fatherlessness in America is the root cause of:
- Lack of respect
- Disregard for authority and the law
- Low productivity
- Lack of trust
- Low self-esteem
- Inability to make decisions
- Lack of commitment
TJ’s list of root causes is accurate, although you may not experience all of them in your life. As I looked over the list, I identified several that applied: poverty, anger to some degree (as I liked to argue a lot), promiscuity and immorality, lack of respect, definitely lack of trust, and low self-esteem. The effects of the others were not as noticeable, and I think that is based on my personality.
If you read either of TJ’s other books, Employ Your GIFT or The Purpose Master Key, , he talks about DISC personality profiles. The DISC profiles help to identity your behavioral tendencies. Your personality profile is very revealing and understanding your natural “wiring” can go a long way toward helping you unlock the real you and heal your Father Fracture.
My only caution is that you need to be honest with yourself when you do the profile. It’s about who you think you are, not what others have said you are or should be. My DISC profile helped me take a big step forward in healing my Father Fracture.
So, what’s the point?
If your father wasn’t your source of protection, your source of provision, and your source of trust then he blew it. If he didn’t teach you how to play, how to take risks, and how to empathize with others then you are missing a part of your identity. If he didn’t love you unconditionally, give you confidence in who you are, and give you real self-worth then you have a void that is yearning to be filled. Your Dad gave you a poor example, or no example, of the love of the Father (God). Those are all symptoms of a Father Fracture, and they are the causes of most of our issues.
You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken, so recognizing the root cause of whatever issue you are dealing with is half of the battle. It is the key to restoring the trust and confidence you need to be truly successful.