From Chicken Soup for the Father & Son Soul


The story of fathers and sons is every man’s story . . . and a story that every woman participates in. It is the story of love, courage, mentoring, sacrifice, challenge, loss, pain, and redemption. It is every story: the first-time father holding his newborn son; the baseball games, bike rides, hikes; the tension, the fights, and disappointments. It is a father and son, now adults, carving out a new relationship. It is family growing as new generations come. It is the son at his father’s grave—and so tragically, sometimes the father at his son’s grave. Throughout it all, even in the face of difficulties and loss, the son carries his father within, as an image of who men are, as someone to be just like, or as someone to be different from. The father’s impact on his son carries on for generations as each new father tries to take the best his father gave him and pass it on to his son. At the same time, that new father struggles to find his own way, to be his own man. And so boys become men, men become fathers, fathers help mold their sons, and the cycle continues.

No perfect father or perfect son exists, but everyone carries the profound importance of the father-son relationship within. For those of us who are men, we have all lived deeply and closely as fathers and sons, learning wise lessons and learning hard lessons. We have known ourselves as sons, building our lives in ways great and small around our fathers (or the many father substitutes that play this all-important role). We remember ourselves as boys and know how we loved our fathers. We know when we made them proud, and we know when we didn’t. We know what it is like to carry our fathers within and to become the best men we can be. For men who have had sons, we continue that cycle, giving it our best shot, knowing only too well that we sometimes fall short of our own ideal. We never stop loving our sons, and we always see, just a little bit, our own selves in their lives.

For those of us who are women, we have seen in our brothers and fathers and grandfathers, in our sons and husbands, in our friends and strangers, what a father and son are. We know them at their best, and, as we know ourselves likewise, we know them in their imperfection. And throughout our lives with fathers and sons, we see how special that relationship is. We also find our place in it. We are the wives and mothers, sisters and daughters, grandmothers and great-grandmothers who walk side by side with the fathers and sons we love.

Gathering the stories of so many fathers and sons has been a gift as we watch our own children leave the nest and begin a new generation of families that will carry us within them as the future continues to unfold. Our thanks to fathers and sons throughout the world for doing their best to make the world a better place. It is our deepest wish that all people might live in peace.

Dorothy Firman and Ted Slawski

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