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No matter whether he was a good dad or a horrible one, no man looms larger in a man’s life than his Father. For better or worse, his influence is inescapable. He is our model for man hood.

Every boy wants a perfect father. Of course, every dad is human and lives up to our dreams of perfection to varying degrees. He may fall short of the Father we hoped for that we ache in disappointment for what might have been. Or he may be so close to the ideal that we still fear that we may never live up to the example he set. Either way, our relationship with our Father shaped us as no other, and our feelings about that relationship run deep, whether we can even acknowledge them or not.

The feelings that exist between Father and Son are rarely expressed. Many of us still think about that one time our father said, “Son, I’m proud of you.” And many dads still cherish the time their sons said, “Thank you, Dad.”

Most of us have never taken the time to really thank our dads for everything they’ve done for us and shown us or had the courage to acknowledge how much they’ve hurt us. Yet if we don’t understand how we feel about our dads, we can’t understand how they shaped us, and we can’t understand ourselves and why we turned out the way we did. So today we’re going to write a letter to our first models of manhood: our fathers.

Today’s Task: Write your Father a letter

Whether or not you had/have a good relationship with your dad, today you’re going to write him a letter. Even if he’s passed on or you don’t know where he is. Sending the letter is optional; writing it is not. The purpose of this exercise is for you to get out and write down your feelings about your dad.

If you have a good relationship with your father

If you have/had a good relationship with your dad, then the purpose of today’s letter is to let your dad know how much you appreciate him.

If you don’t have a good relationship with your father

A lot of men don’t have the kind of relationship with their fathers that they wish they had. Whether you and the old man are estranged, he’s passed on, or you just don’t get along, your relationship has probably affected your life in many ways. The purpose of thoday’s letter is to help you get out and understand some of the feelings you have about your Father.

But it’s not designed to be an exercise where you whine about how your life is messed up all because of him. Think about and write down examples of where you really needed your father and he wasn’t there and the times you really missed him. But at the end of the letter, put a positive spin on things. Tell your dad how you learned how not to be a man from him, and how he made you work harder to turn out differently.

This letter is obviously something you might not want to send. But it’s still important to really think about how you feel about your dad instead of letting it fester inside.

Extracted from “30 Days to a Better Man – Day 14: Write a Letter to Your Father” by Brett & Kate McKay. Posted in artofmanliness.com on November 1, 2018