Between Fathers and Sons
Michael Smith, SJ
Foreword by Joseph Telow, SJ
Pages: 140 pages
The relationship between fathers and sons is among the most wounded in society today. Helping to heal it is one of the most urgent tasks facing families, church, and society. Between Fathers and Sons is a six-week program that provides opportunities for open communication between fathers and their adolescent sons and offers assistance to fathers in fostering their sons’ growth into mature manhood. Because spiritual transformation is at the heart of an adolescent male’s transition into manhood, each session is rooted in a gospel teaching.
Foundational Principles of the Program
• A father’s active presence is crucial for his son’s development, especially in adolescence.
• There is a great need today for fathers to initiate their adolescent sons into spiritually mature and responsible manhood.
• Teenage boys can benefit by hearing the stories of other adult men from the faith community.
• The psychological task for an adolescent is to achieve a coherent sense of personal identity; the task for adults is to care, nurture and guide the next generation.
Program Models and Themes
The Between Fathers and Sons program can operate in many models: as a six-week program, a weekend retreat, or a three-day workshop. The program is facilitated by men from the faith community according to detailed and easy-to-use session plans found in this manual. Among the processes that take place in the six sessions are gospel reading and prayer, personal response, one-to-one dialogue, small-group sharing, large-group presentations, and community building activities. The six sessions focus on the following major themes:
Session 1: The Father and Son Bond
Fathers and sons build a relationship based on trust. A positive image of God as Father is developed.
Session 2: Becoming a Man
The session focuses on a variety of ways society marks the start of manhood. Four
psychological male archetypes are disseminated.
Session 3: Dealing with Anger
This session encourages positive and assertive responses for dealing with anger.
Session 4: Friendships with Girls and Women
Contrary to popular views, relationships between men and women are more than sexual. This session shows the importance for males to form friendships with females based on mutual respect.
Session 5: The Quest for Identity
The task of adolescence is identity achievement. Fathers help their sons reach this goal by sharing with them stories of their sons’ birth and infancy and by listening to their sons’ dreams and aspirations for the future.
Session 6: The Blessing Ritual
Set in the context of familiar liturgical rites, this session offers affirmation to fathers and sons in recognition of their uniqueness as God’s creations.