I'm a Father, Doesn't Anyone Care?
by Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC
The snow was getting heavier with each lift of the shovel. My back ached, and I was chilled to the bone.
I’d had enough for one day.
I entered the house and heard the sounds of voices engaged in a friendly game of cards. My wife and kids were sprawled out on the floor of the family room, and they were oblivious to my arrival. “Hi guys!” I yelled. There was no answer. “Hi there!” I tried again. “You can’t use that card!” I heard my daughter shriek.
Then the thoughts started to come. “I’m invisible to them!” I told myself. “All the stuff I do around here, and does anybody notice it? I’m working my tail off again, and they’re in here playing!” As I went downstairs, I took along some heavy baggage with me.
I took blame with me, and a sense of feeling justified in my blame. My wife and kids were to blame. In my victim-filled mind, they should have been there at the door to greet me with hugs and kisses. They should have been filled with adoration at the wonderful job I did on the driveway. And they should have taken me right to the couch, where a back massage and warm food would comfort me. (The fantasies of victims can be pretty wild!)
I can’t say that I felt good blaming them, but I did feel justified. And for those of us who occasionally feel victimized by our families, feeling justified can be plenty. It allows us to feel “right,” while they’re “wrong,” and it allows us to “prove” how worthy of blame they are.
Once again in my role as a father, I’d made the fundamental error. The error that prevents us from being who we were meant to be.
I’d gone into my head, and away from my heart.
I was expecting my family to “give” me love. You know, the love that I was “owed.” Fortunately, love doesn’t work that way. I’d forgotten that I wasn’t a parent to “give” or “get” love. Our job as parents is to discover love as the fundamental fact of life. It is to bring this expression of our love into the world. It’s more a matter of “being” love than giving it.
Parents across the world have reason to be grateful, for we’ve all embarked on the world’s most complete and intensive course on love. While we may resist it at times, we’re called virtually every day to express the deep reservoir of love within us. And sometimes, because we’re busy blaming others, we miss the call completely.
Fathers go through periods when they feel “outside” of their family. They feel neglected, or they feel invisible. Or, they feel like they’re just a “paycheck” to their families. But what’s really happened is they’ve forgotten they’re not on this planet to “get” love from their family members.
They’re here to discover the boundless love that’s always been in them.
I calmed down my thoughts and emerged from my “victim’s dungeon.” “Hey Dad, want to play some cards?” my son called. I dropped myself down onto the ground next to my family. “Sure, what’s the game?”
My back was feeling better already.
Mark Brandenburg MA, CPCC, coaches busy parents by phone to balance their life and improve their family relationships. For a FREE twenty minute sample session by phone; ebooks, courses, articles, and a FREE newsletter, go to