6 Lessons I Learned About Being a Man from Growing Up Fatherless

by Brett & Kate McKay on June 17, 2009 · 141 comments

in Fatherhood, Relationships & Family


Editor’s note: Today we finish up our run of father-themed posts with an article from a different perspective. While having an awesome dad can help you become an awesome man, growing up fatherless can also motivate you to become better than your dad was. Andrew Galasetti used his less then perfect childhood as a springboard into honorable manliness.

Mr. Galasetti is an entrepreneur and the main writer of Lyved.com a blog focusing on various aspects of life and living it to the fullest. Lyved has published a number of popular articles which you may view here. Andrew invites you to keep in touch with him on Twitter.

Like millions of people, I grew up in a single parent household. My mother divorced my father before I was in kindergarten. My father was a drug user and drinker, beat my mom often, and generally made her life a living hell. After they divorced, my older sister and I would still visit with our father on weekends. But as we grew older, he slowly drifted away from us, until one day, he packed up all his belongings and moved to another state without even a “goodbye.” I was about 10 years old at the time.

From then on we never heard from him, not even with a simple birthday card. It’s been over a decade since he left, so for the majority of the crucial developmental times of my youth, I had no father.

As we all know, growing up in a single-parent household means that the children are more likely to live close or at the poverty line while the parent tries to make ends meet. This is very difficult for everyone, and growing up fatherless brings its own set of difficulties for boys.

The statistics about single-parent households make you believe that every boy who grows up with one parent ends up on drugs, unsuccessful, and in prison, but that’s simply not true. Because of growing up fatherless, I have stayed away from destructive activity and crime and have instead moved into being a successful entrepreneur and towards a mission of changing millions of lives in a positive way.

I was taught a lot of things about being a man from growing up fatherless. Here are 6 lessons that I learned:

#1 Having a child makes you a father but not a “dad”

“What’s the difference?” you might be asking. Well, a father is a proper term for a male that produces a child. But in the eyes of a kid, a father is a “dad” or “daddy.” It’s a name that has to be earned; earned by being supportive of your child both financially and mentally. You don’t become a “dad” without working hard for it or without being there whenever your kids need you.

#2: A man needs to be self-sufficient

Don’t depend on someone else or a trust fund for your well-being and livelihood. At any moment, either could disappear from your life. I was fortunate to realize at an early age that no one is going to hand me my dreams or what I need in life, and that I need to go out there and capture it myself.

Since we live in modern times we aren’t required to farm and hunt to survive on our own. Self-sufficiency is different; it’s now more about thriving as a man than just surviving. These days we can gain self-suficency by doing things like:

  • Gaining a varied education

Be open-minded to various cultures, subjects, views, and people. The more things you experience and the more subjects you are knowledgeable about, the more situations you can handle. Seek valuable skills that will make you an asset to employers and communities.

  • Not letting fear stop you

Fear is probably the biggest obstacle for most people. It keeps us from success, keeps us from getting what we need, and it keeps us dependent on other people.

#3: Becoming a man doesn’t come with age

Though the law considers any male 18 and over as a “man,” a boy becomes a true man through experiences and by learning from those experiences. Sometimes this can take years past the age of 18 to happen.

Through experience a boy becomes a man by:

  • Taking ownerships of failure
  • Letting go of stubbornness and accepting lessons
  • Knowing how to handle challenging situations and fixing their incorrect reactions and attitudes
  • Learning more about themselves

#4: Blaze your own path instead of following someone’s footsteps

I can’t understand why so many young men decide to do exactly what their fathers did with their lives. You may be thinking that it’s easy for me to say this because all I had to aspire to was becoming a drinker, drug user, and abusive deadbeat. But besides that, my father did work; he did construction and odd jobs. That’s a common career that sons decide to pursue because their fathers did.

Any work is worthy work and if  what your dad does or did really is your passion too, then that’s great. But for me, I wanted something different, something more exciting and something that had never been done before. Here’s a great quote that  makes you rethink following so closely in someone’s footsteps:

We are not here to do what has already been done. – Robert Henri

Men go down the path less-traveled and never traveled.

#5: Mental strength is often more necessary than physical

No matter how strong my father is physically, mentally he is weak. He didn’t have the conviction to be a dad. If you want to be a man of great courage and accomplishment, it isn’t going to happen just by hitting the gym and lifting weights. A courageous man stands up for the weak, stands up for what he believes in, faces fear, failure, and criticism. He’s not afraid of responsibility and seeing things through to the end.

#6: Your father doesn’t need to be your father figure

If you have a father who’s incarcerated, or who left you, or who didn’t have much success in life, look for a father figure in someone else. Every man needs a father figure, even far into adulthood. You don’t even need to know him personally, and he doesn’t even need to be alive. Most successful men leave a legacy and lessons behind, whether in a book or video. You can then read, watch, and practice their advice; just like any other father figure. My four most influential father-like figures are Chris Gardner, Andrew Carnegie, Richard Branson, and Randy Pausch.

In addition to studying the lives of great men, seek the companionship and camaraderie of male friends. As Wayne has said, as you open up to these men, they can become “father figures” to you as well.

What a man is and what a man isn’t

So growing up in a fatherless home is something that I’m now proud of experiencing. It has made the line between a boy and a man much clearer for me.

For a quick synopsis and a few more lessons, here is a list of what I learned a man isn’t and what a man is from growing up fatherless:

A man isn’t:

  • Someone who runs from his responsibilities
  • A person who makes excuses
  • A person who strikes a woman
  • Selfish
  • A man through age – a boy grows into a man through experience

A man is:

  • Someone who stands up for something they believe in, even when they’re fearful
  • A person who creates a new path
  • Open-minded
  • A “dad” when he earns it

Were you brought up in a fatherless home? Or do you know someone who was? Please feel free to share your story and any lessons you learned in the comments below.

{ 140 comments… read them below or add one }

101 Aurora March 31, 2013 at 1:37 am

I was raised by my grandparents. I did see my mom but, I haven’t ever really lived with her. She pretended when she was pregnant with me that she wasn’t by wearing tight pants. When I was born she only kept me for four months then dumped me with my grandparents, just like my older sister (except at nine months). Then, tried it with my younger brother but, ended up giving him up for adoption at the hospital. Never met my father until the age of 14 when he called for the first time EVER. The call lasted about fifteen minutes, him saying “bye, I love you.” and me awkwardly just hanging up. He started sending me pictures and gifts like he was trying to buy my love. My mom slept with so many men, with each of her SEVEN KIDS she has three guesses for each one who the father could be (except for the youngest), so I’m not even sure if he is my dad. I swore to myself that if I had kids, they would NEVER go through what I had to.

102 mccoy April 2, 2013 at 1:06 pm

As a single mother to a four year old boy, I’ve been thinking for years that “I can’t teach him how to be a man”. Those words quoted from a favorite movie of mine, but I thought made perfect sense. Now Im questioning that thought, that I can’t teach my boy how to be a man, mabe I can’t, but at least I now have the knowledge and tools to give him so he can learn to grow into a man the way he sees fit. I trust that, mainly because I have God in my life, and I trust Him.

103 Tom April 3, 2013 at 11:54 am

Im 19, my father died when I was four years old. What Ive learnt, or gained from this, Faster mental maturity, I feel Ive tasted too much of the crappy side of life for my age.emotions too powerful to supress, low self worth, no confidence, more prone to stress, depression. Cynical and cold hearted to all appart from my closest of friends and my amazing girlfriend. Growing up in poverty destroyed all materialism in me and I know how to be happy with how ever little I have. My best friends ARE my family, Ive become detached from my mother, seeing her fuck so many and sink so low down the alchoholic spiral realy did a number on me. Got two siblings from her seccond, extremely abusive marriage which I wish I could forget. Growing up without a dad, or even a father figure is a passive problem. Its tough, but once you take control of your life in late teens things get better.

104 Jay April 5, 2013 at 7:37 am

My mom and “father” never married. They were very young when they had me. She was 18 and he was 21. I saw him every weekend until I was about 6 years old when he just disappeared from my life. That was 31 years ago. He wasn’t abusive to me or my mom and I don’t know why he left. Of course I put the blame on myself as a young child. I still feel the sting of growing up without a dad from time to time. Mostly when I hear other people talk about their relationships with their father. It’s sad.. I’m not angry at him just disappointed. I just don’t understand how anyone can walk out of a child’s life. It’s not like my mom was keeping him away from me, I’m assuming he just didn’t want the responsibility. To make matters worse I heard through the grapevine that he married got divorced and left that child as well. Repeat offender. I think I have been affected the most in that I was never taught “guy” things.. like how to fix stuff (cars etc.), sports and whatever else is “manly”. While I did mask trauma with alcohol and drugs for quite a while I came out the other end. I played in a successful rock band in my 20′s and I now have a good career, have a wonderful girlfriend and moved to a city that I love (Portland, ME). I’m talented, smart, funny and excel at most things I try… I have always stood up for what I believe in and am very strong and independent. I’m proud of myself. I don’t know how my father feels about himself but I can only imagine that abandonment of 2 children weights on him.. especially as he ages. Sometimes I think about contacting him to ask “why”.. but what would that accomplish? Now I put my efforts into being the best uncle that I can be. That’s all I can do.

105 Rich April 22, 2013 at 11:31 am

Great website. Thank You
I think I meet all the expectations of what a man is and isn’t after growing up Fatherless. Although I have all these traits and I have never been able to overcome the emptiness of not having a Dad. I am a forgiving person and hold no bitterness. The emptiness comes from experiencing a weeks worth of how it could have been. There was a construction site down the street when I was about 8 years old. My cousins and I used to go there everyday after school and hang around a crane operator named Max. He would talk to us and ask us about school and show an interest in us. He would widdle boats out of pieces of wood and put them in the standing water. When he said this is what he did with his own kids a wave of jealosy went right through my soul. I looked forward to seeing Max everyday. One day he told us tomorrow was his last day and he would be leaving. He took us all out for ice cream. I was so emotionally sick I refused to have any. I went back the next day and he was gone. I cried for a week. The emptiness that I felt that day has never gone away. I am married with children who I love very much and have willingly sacrificed for to give them the best life possible, but the emptiness has never subsided. I was given a taste of what having a father would have been like and I know what I missed out on.

106 S.Thomas April 30, 2013 at 6:49 pm

I lost my father 3 years ago when i was 11, It wasn’t fun. I have grown to accept it and move on, I took up blacksmithing and a little woodworking and got better at it. In a way my hobby has becomes my ‘Dad’ while not my father, it has taught responsibility, the great power of pure sweat, blood, and work, and has kept me from doing the things so many of my peers have given into such as drugs. It really did pick up on the art of manliness lessons right where my real father left off.

107 shanon May 2, 2013 at 6:24 am

before i was born my mum and my father split up, when i was 2 my mum asked him to borrow some money for diapers or something, she didnt hear from intill i was 4, he wanted to see me, my mum said yes but if he disappered again he wouldent be aloud to see me. When i was 6 my mum asked him to borrow some money for school books and he called her a s*ut and said i wasnt his son (i look just like him…) i lost the will to live then, when i was 7 we moved to wgtn (my mothers step dad lived here and he was the only other male in my family at the time) and lived in cold wet houses, when i was 8 my mum met a nice guy and dated him, after 2 years he turned to be a angry ass and he left, now im turning 15 in june and i dont know who i am or what i want to be, im really shy and am bullyed often for not being as tough as others…

108 Alfred D. May 10, 2013 at 9:09 pm

I grew up with a father that was able to be a provider for his family financially, but was not a provider in any other way. He was generally absent while I was growing up, and even when he was physically there, emotionally and maybe even spiritually, he was absent. He’s a man of weak character. And I eventually grew to resent all these things.

I had to raise myself, and obviously a kid won’t do a good job at raising a kid (even if it is himself). Now, that I’m more mature in my early twenties, I see certain virtues of a man that I didn’t develop, but have been working avidly to develop today- Successfully.

I feel myself becoming a real man. I don’t know how to explain it exactly but I’m sure some of you here can relate to what I mean, which in itself, (the fact that there are others that understand and are working towards these same things) is a huge motivation.

Well, recently my father has fallen ill – right when I’m at the age to move and really start my own life – I could leave, but I can’t leave my mom and my little sister or even my father alone to fend for themselves. So, I’ve chosen to put my own life on hold. So,I can be their support and their rock.

I’m legally a man, but most of the time I feel that I’m in over my head, and I cannot carry such a large burden.

I found this artice from googling “becoming the man of the house.” Because I wanted to hear from people that have been in a similar position and succeeded.

As this post said I won’t run a way from my responsabilities. I find much strength from reading posts from this blog; I’m extremely thankful for that.

109 Rob May 27, 2013 at 7:01 pm

I know this article is old, but I have to say that I only wish I had your level of closure.

My father just left, not far, a half block away. He never told me, my mother never told me. Just some stranger would randomly give me money in the street, never told me why just to tell my mom I had seen someone like him.

When I was 14, he came to me and explained he was my father, but after taking me hunting once in my life, moved away and never came back. I found out he had other kids, he was not with their mothers but kept in contact with them all the time. I was just the throw away son…

110 Tanya June 5, 2013 at 2:39 am

I’m a single mom of 2 boys (age 8 and 13). My boys dont have any contact with their biological father. I had a boyfriend for 7 years BUT during this 7 year relationship we broke up every second month (not a good example). he emotionally abused me but loved my boys. He did everything for them, loved them, played with them, spoiled them etc etc etc

2 months ago we broke up again after he said that I forced him to be a father for my kids. The added that he hates my kids and he is done. (He said all these bad thing in front of my boys)

Last night my one son (13) said that he is the only one in his class without a father. The also asked me WHY MOMMY …. WHY DONT WE HAVE A DAD?

I know Im not a father but I try my best to always be there for them. I’m self employed and spend every afternoon with them doing homework and supporting them in sport.

I have a successful business and we are able to live a comfortable life. We have everything we need.

I wish there was something I can do – but I can’t change the past. I can not force my ex husband to be a father – . He is a bad person and not a good example for the boys.

I just wanted to share my story and I pray every day for my boys to grow up and be amazing men.

111 maggie taylor June 27, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I grew up not knowing my dad, i lived with my 2 older sisters and my mum , when growing up I was curious to know what he looked like etc. I met him for the first time at the age of 16 and found out he only ever lived 3 miles away (I use to pass his house on the school journey without realizing) my mum never never spoke about him and if she did it would only be bad things which made me scared to meet him, I never got on with my mum and still dont. I met up with him 2 more times then he physically abused me so I stopped contact. Now that I have my own daughter and husband I feel great because its nice to feel wanted and important to someone (omething I never felt throughout childhood) my husbands parents are still together and I do envy it in a funny way and get the sense that he’s grown up in a perfect family, I do think growing up with out a dad made me feel as if dads arent an important member of the family and mums are the real parent but after having a child myself I realise thats not the case.I think not having a dad absent made me a bitter and cold herated person

112 Brad July 8, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Ill start out by saying I am 17 years of age. My dad left me when I wasnt even a year old never once got a call, Birthday card, or Christmas card. My mom had a few “men” i looked up to but just like my dad they left too. I didnt know what I was missing out on until i was around 10 or 11 on fathers day, I called my best friend up and said “Dude lets hang to day!” and he said “Cant dude Its fathers day!” Then I hung up and thought “Whats that?” So I decided to ask my mom “Whats fathers day?” and she couldnt answer so I left it at that. (Going back when I was 7-8) I was hanging out with my cousin who was about 11-12, His dad is a fire Fighter when he gets a call about a stove fire next door, without any gear kicks in the door drags 2 out and one over his shoulder and saved 5 people by the end of it. After that I saw him no longer as “Just my uncle” I saw him as my Hero! Last story I swear guys :) on my way back from my my birthday dinner when I turned 15 I finally said can I go see my dad she said hesitantly “Sure…If thats what you want” So we stopped by I then knocked on his door and thats when it hit me he said “Who are you…” and it trailed off. I said “Its me brad, your son.” we talked for no more than a minute (I also had to start the god damn hug!) then he said “Why did you stop by?” then I told him “Its my bday” then I said “Here’s an even better question why didnt you EVER stop by?” He just sat there then I said “You know Ive wondered my whole life if it was my fault or not…I beat my self up saying I drove you away…but now..now i I see it was your fault. He then tried to say something I said “No you dont get to speak..Youve had 15 years to say something so now dont you dare try it now. I am more of a man then you ever will be, I have taught my self everything you havent so good bye and good radiance! Oh and happy fathers day. Thats the last Ive ever seen from him or heard from him (PS My bday is on June 14th and fathers day was on the 19th) Thank you all for reading I just had to get that off my chest.

113 DSB July 22, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Thank you for sharing your story. I found this article very interesting as I to was raised without a father. To be specific I was raised without a father from the age of 11. I have mixed feelings about being raised without a father due to that fact that I the time I had with my father was more negative than positive. It wasnt until we seperated from my father that the quality of life improved. My mother and father had me when they were 19 years old. This put things like continuing to high education on hold, especially for my mother. Fortunately my mother and father had support from both their families so finances, shelter, and child care were not an issue for them due to support of extended family. Life seemed to be very good until I was about 7 years old. My father started drinking or should I say relapsed. A habit that I did not realize he already had prior to my birth. My mother told him to stop drinking before I was born. In any event his drinking increased and things like domestic abuse, infidelity, and at times physical abuse toward me would occur. By the time my mother left my father I had 3 younger siblings and my mother had enough. We moved to another home but the line of communication was still open with my father. My mom never spoke of him again unless it was to ask us if we wanted to see or talk to him. Initially, yes, we had visits but as time went on our visits decreased until they stopped without objection from my father or me and my siblings. Its been 19 years since I have seen my father and its been about 10 years since I have spoken with him. I cant say I have missed him nor do i have any ill will toward him. He decided he didnt want a relationship with me and was not going to fight him on that because who wants to fight for someone who will not fight for them. On occasion I have thought about how life might have been different with a father or the lessons I missed out on but I have to say I wouldnt want anything to be different because I wouldnt be the person I am today. I was accepted and graduated from an Ivy Leauge school, have travelled abroad, met many amazing people that have inspired me, and somehow learned to be a man on my own. I now work for a male invovlement program working with fathers and father figure to stay involved with their children’s lives so they won’t miss out on all the amazing things their child could accomplish. before I end my comment I would like like to point out that although my father was not present I had many father figures in my life which include my mother’s brothers, teachers, and my grandfather who passed when I was 13 but his legacy is still something I strive to follow. Thank you for providing a forum that people can share and learn from and thank you all for allowing me to do so.

114 Mark July 23, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Shanon (May 2nd) – like many people on here you’ve suffered without a father figure and in addition being 15 and at school it’s a tough time in life when you could do with some Dad support. I don’t know if it helps but I grew up without my Dad around and was also shy at school but I decided that I was going to focus on getting through those school years and just got my head down and focused on doing the best I could in the subjects I enjoyed most. I did that and made it to college and experienced some of the best years of my life, finding friends with similar interests and studying something I was really interested in. It was worth the hard work. I’m now an Engineer, doing ok for myself and enjoying my work but the best thing in my life is my family and especially my son, who will never have to worry about having a Dad around because I will always be there for him, I swear. You can do it to, just find something to focus on and go for it, don’t look back.

115 Dorothy July 24, 2013 at 1:07 am

Thank you for publishing this. I am bringing up two boys on my own and I’m glad to see the situation from someone else’s perspective and read that my boys are not doomed to fail just because they are fatherless.

116 Shane-San August 4, 2013 at 8:49 pm

Wow is this a terrific article. Out of all the comments on here, I can probably relate best to the one posted by Alfred D. For the majority of my life I have had my father physically present yet emotionally unavailable. My parents split up 5 years ago when I was 19, after 26 years of marriage. It was quite sudden and shocking for my brother and I. However, my Mom remarried to a wonderful man who has taught me many valuable life lessons and inspires me everyday. I still get together every once in awhile with my Dad but we really only talk politics, watch movies, and shoot targets together. Part of me still really wishes we could have a deep relationship but I doubt that will ever happen. Still, I know that I’ve been blessed and am very fortunate to not have endured the abuse and calloused indifference that some of those who have commented have endured. This site helps me fill in the gaps where life lessons, skills and other things should’ve been provided by my Dad. I also take comfort that I have a perfect Father in heaven.

117 jimmy August 17, 2013 at 12:12 pm

My mom and dad were married when I was born. My fathers was there until I was about 5. During that time I saw my father dri king and yelling at my mom all the time. It got so bad one time I saw my dad beat my mom up and throw her out of the car onto the ground and drove off. When he left me and my mom, I never heard from him for a while. Nk happy birthday nothing. He never showed up when he was suppose to come get me. He eventually had another son who he raised himself. When my father went to jail for a couple of months when I was in my early 20s, he asked me if I could take care of my brother while he was in jail. I was very angry and refused to watch him. I guess I am angry and jealous at the same time. I have a son now and a wife who is not the mother of my son and a step daughter. I have a really good relationship with my son and I have a good marriage. I do have this anger issue that won’t go away. My father went into the hospital for a stroke. My little brother calls me to go up there. He is my father after all. So aftergoing to see him we are now talking on the phone and I go up to see him about 2 times a year but I am still angry and I am taking it out on my family. My wife says I need to go tell him everything that is in my heart and release the anger I have built up about him. I did try to do that but couldnt get the nerve to do it when we were face to face. I don’t know if I’m scared or why I couldn’t do it. I am still toiling over it and it is still effecting my relationships. What should I do?

118 Anthony August 26, 2013 at 4:56 pm

My father passed away when I was 3 months old. My mother gave me an abundance of love but fell short when I needed a fathers advice. I still feel that I could possibly have become a better person both social and financially if my father had lived. I tried to make up that loss by being the best father to my children but so far have failed miserably. One of the things a fatherless boys misses out on is the experience you gain by having your father around to teach you about what it means to be the man of the house and the responisibilty that comes with taking on a family. I think i could have been a better father if I had my own father to learn from.

119 uhondo September 2, 2013 at 8:41 am

My biological father left when i was about 4 years old and died days after i turned 12.It was sad because in spite of not ever having met him or shared a moment with him, my elder brothers and i had to attend his burial.We were really burying a stranger; someone who had made some bad choices in his life not only in abandoning his wife and kids but also in almost every area of his personal life, career and even relations with other people.The effects of his departure were devastating and continue to haunt us to this day.They continue to be very profound and real.So many questions about how he lived his life linger. It has made me fear and shun male-female relationships to the point i am now mid-thirties and have no prospects of marriage despite having a job and some extra income.My heart truly bleeds when i see women claiming to be ‘emancipated’ and ‘independent’ at the expense of their children.Little do they know that in the latter years, the behavioral problems in their children will begin to manifest themselves in ways that will be impossible to correct.

120 ro September 11, 2013 at 2:15 am

I grew up fatherless to. i grew up seeing my dad 3 times a year the times that I would see him he would just talk to my older brother because he since that I dident care for him. the reason that I dident like him because when we would go to a toy store he would bring my older brother a toy back but not me, my mom would have to tell him to go back and get me one. When I were like 4 my family use to be upsett and ask my father do he think that Im his son. I’m 19 now and I rarely see my father now. I think it help me alot because it show me how to be on my own without help from others. I now have city job writing tickets.

121 Renaee September 20, 2013 at 8:34 am

Thank you sooo much for this. I was scared my son didn’t have a hope at life because his father and I are no longer together. He is five and I felt maybe I should give him up to a “Real” family because I couldn’t teach him how to be a man. I know that this is extreme thinking but Im desperate to find a way to make sure he is as mentally healthy and sound as he is physically. My heart after reading this can breathe today. Thank you for the peace you have provided me and prayers to you and everyone who hurts from the loss of a parent.

122 D.P September 27, 2013 at 10:29 am

Thank you so much for sharing that. Truly inspiring stuff. I’m 16 years old, and my father left when I was 13. I live with my mother and sister, and I have been forced to grow up through the most crucial time as an adolescent without a father figure. I have gone through certain situations in my life in those couple of years that I believe have made me very independent, mentally strong, and a lot wiser. Though as I get to the point of my life right now, I haven’t being able to stop thinking about how mad it’s made me to have to go through all of this on my own, but as I’ve just read in this article, it doesn’t have to be a relative, or anyone alive. I’ve got friends, some older and some younger who I look up to with their certain personalities, and I’ve just finished reading To Kill A Mockingbird in English, I see Atticus Finch as a very inspiring father figure for me. You should read it if you haven’t yet, it’s an amazing book. Thanks again.

123 Don October 2, 2013 at 5:01 am

My father left before I was born. I had no father figure growing up. I’m 39 now and seems I’m just now facing my hurt of not having one for all these years cause I kept it locked up.

124 Ryan October 8, 2013 at 2:11 am

My mom left my Dad for pretty much the same exact reason as your mom. He was addicted to drugs and abusive. Ever since I was three months old I have never ever seen him or talked to him before. Now I am 15 years old with the best mom in the world. But still I feel like something is missing from my life. I never had to chance to experience the Sunday morning football games with my dad, going to the ball park, or just hanging out talking about guy things. It makes me wonder how different I would be if I had that such of father figure growing up in life. Even though my older sister went through the same childhood as me, it is still very different. She had our mom to talk to her about her “girl” things, but I had no one. Still to this day I have not found a father figure, who I can look up to, but hopefully soon.

125 J October 27, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I’ve struggled with not having a father or dad or male figure around since I was born. The biggest lesson of my life just happened at 30 when a girlfriend of 3 years left and all I can realize is being abrasive and strong willed came from needing to keep what was ‘mine’ but left me closed off to true happiness. Sure that attitude helped me accumulate in my 20′s. Cars, a house, ‘toys’ but I never allowed a real relationship in, friends or girls. When a girl as great as mine came into my life 3 years ago and simply wanted to get married I found every excuse not to, even though I DID want to. Maybe it was fear, maybe it was low self esteem as if I would have no idea how to take care of her in a marriage. She got sick of it. Everyday is a day that passes that allows me to reflect on what I need to work on and the one thing clearly evident is that from years of suppressing how I really felt and just barreling through my teens and 20′s I’m left standing at 30 realizing I never have been able to maintain a real relationship. It’s a me problem for sure, but my advice to the younger guys is be sure to allow your heart to be open for when someone does come in and CAN show you love. Start your own family and ‘reverse the curse’ if I may pay homage to my home team. You do deserve it and we are NOT our fathers…

126 Christopher Gage November 1, 2013 at 6:14 pm

I agree that growing up fatherless is not an impediment to the developing man. Despite the huge difficulties we, four of us kids, faced having been abandoned by our drunken, philandering father, our Mother, God bless her, taught us true strength of character and indomitable spirit through her actions. My Mother never gave in, worked 3 jobs, sometimes the day and night shift, to put food in our mouths and clothes on our backs.

As long as the developing man has a role model like I did growing up, I think they will do just fine. I’d say that my less than perfect childhood has taught me many life lessons and shaped the 25 year old I am today. Despite heading down the wrong paths more than a few times, I’ve realised that your experiences are vital in shaping who you really are, and let you know just who you are what you can handle when things get tough. I am forever in debt to my Mother for all this.

I do also have a few male role models. Successful men and male family members have done more and taught me more than any lame excuse for a father ever could. I’m not even bitter. I pity the poor guy.

Great website too. Really love some of this stuff.



127 Bernadette November 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm

I was raised by my Mum who has been kind of living in a state of depression for years but refuses to seek medical help and does not take any medicine either.
She is a verrrrryyyy complicated person and it took me a long time to figure out how I could be that sad myself.
Only when I discovered how sad she was and when I from a neutral point started to see how she was living her life I became aware that all my life I had been forced to be the grown up. I never had had the chance to let myself fall in the arms of a “mother” (emotionally).
This realisation was so hard I almost gave up.
But – I believe in God and in a higher power which guides you and I know that I am here for a reason so no matter how hard it is I really want to never give up.

128 Jim November 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm

My parents divorced when I was 6 or 7 years old. My brother, sister, and I would see my father on the weekends for awhile, but that eventually became every other weekend and then not at all because he moved out of state. My mother remarried a few years later to a man who is still married to my mom. It definitely wasn’t easy growing up with a stepfather. I don’t think any of us kids saw eye to eye with him and by no means did he earn the name ‘dad’. I think his intentions were good, but he had no clue how to raise kids nor did he want to. His basis for raising us was the way of his mother’s iron fist. I saw my father just a few more times over the years until he passed away in 2004. Today, it’s still hard for me to not be sad about not having my dad around when I was young. I feel like my childhood was cut short as soon as he left.

129 mark November 17, 2013 at 6:16 pm

i consider myself to be a dad, however i found this site through searching for difficulties of growing up without one. Having read what some of you guys have gone through it just makes me even more concerned – you see my problem is that i work abroad – and although i get to visit home regularly – it still tears me apart to know that my son misses me being there full time. I long for the days when i can quit this job and go back home – every day i calculate our finances and dream of being able to be normal dad that works in the day and is home at night. Both my wife & i know that we would not be able to sustain ourselves properly if i gave up my job.I keep telling myself that money is not everything and that i will never have those years back again but the reality is if i give up my work we will end up in poverty. i have even set up cams in the house so i can tune in and watch them whenever i feel the need and with the communications these days we are only a Skype call away – maybe I’m a soft ass but i really do hate being away from them.

130 Josh November 19, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I grew up without my father also. He was a bad guy who drank too much and hit my mom too much and sadly I was old enough to remember this. Even though I had my mom and older siblings I felt alone. My older siblings were never around and my mother became a working single mom. I learned very early on that it was just me. I became my own dad and my own big brother. All throughtout my life I’ve always had friends but I’ve learned not to get close to people because you never know how long they will last. Now I’m a student in college and I’ve become close to a couple of guys. They are the first I would ever consider being my best friends. However I feel down and depressed sometimes when they talk about doing stuff with their friends, grandparents, and dads. Stuff I never had the chance to do. Stuff like hunting, fishing, sports! My mother remarried but it was too late. I’ve never been close to him because I’ve been too used to taking care of myself.
But here I sit …. in my bed and depressed because I hate the cards I was given and wonder why I couldn’t have had that dream childhood!

131 steve November 20, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Hii all. Feels good reading this article. I have had tough times growing up as well. Im now 23 years old and it has been a hell of a journey. I was 7

132 r.e. December 3, 2013 at 8:58 pm

interesting article. thank you for your candid feelings. i grew up fatherless until my mom remarried when i was 21. that was helpful to me as a reference of one example of a man. at 32 i met my real father 4 the first time. i grew up as 1 of the wealthiest kids at school. and it was a nice area. i was tall, smart, goodlooking, and athletic. but i was still negative with a chip on my shoulder. coasting through life was easy. but i was deeply unsure of myself. then adversity hit and it was very hard to adjust. i have always been harder on myself than other men seem to be withthemselves who have had fathers.i have tested my masculinity to the max, just to prove to myself that i m not weak.but yet, i still feel inadaquate at times. every mans path is different. but i have more ccompassion 4 those who did not have a father figure present while growing up. thank the lord for my mom, who is anangle and who i try emulate as best as a man can. its just an ongoing challenge n struggle,but then who doesnt have everyday struggles,fatherless or not.

133 The Hulk December 5, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Very relevant to what I’ve been coming to realize as of recent. My father taught me the value of hard work and long hours – he was his owner and only employee of his HVAC company. Many nights, summer and winter, birthdays and holidays he’d be gone, helping his clients in their time of need. He hardly ever drank, never hit my mother, and always respected his elders. But as far back as I can remember, he vested TOO much of his time into his clients. His financial decisions weren’t always the best, but he always made sure we had a roof over our heads and lights on*. In all of this though, he missed out on critical times in my development, times when a teenager, a young man should have someone there to tell him how to deal with that bully at school, get that special girl’s attention, or teach me how to throw a baseball (or football, or punch, or party).

I stumbled upon AoM like many others, inquiring how to shave with a straight razor. I saw James Bond (Daniel Craig, one of the best) do it and the power of appearance compelled me to try it out. I’ve never looked back and encourage my colleagues to give it a try. But it’s beyond shaving. It’s that I’ve gotten more out of AoM in the last ten month of readership than the last fifteen years of being a son. I felt lost until I stumbled across articles like these. It’s good to know I’m not alone, that there are other men fighting the good fight, not using the tools they were given but building the tools for themselves.

It’s also good to get the single mother’s perspective, and for them, I have this: By being there, you are doing great. Keep it up! Your sons (and daughters) need you. Do your job as a mother to the best of your ability and you’ve helped build that foundation for your sons to be good, hard-working, honest, self-reliant men. Support their manly interests, be it becoming a firefighter, a barber, a chef, a mechanic, or serving their Country. Just understand your son will reach a point when he needs that male presence to polish the family crest you helped him forge.

*Largely due to the tugboat engine that sat in our garage, feeding our house and several neighbors when the power went out. Remember that huge blackout in 2003? We were lit-up like the Taj Mahal at night – the only lights for miles around.

134 Messed up January 6, 2014 at 4:57 pm

My father passed away when I was 15 years old, before hand I was a straight A student who had high hopes to become a doctor. After he passed, I started smoking weed and drinking alcohol. Then I started messing around with gangs, and eventually ended up in prison for a bit. This all happened before the age of 19. After I was 19 I moved to a different city with my cousins and lived on my own until I was 22. I now live back at home with my mother and 3 sisters. Life is not good, I am always sad and angry. Angry at my sisters and my mother. She was never able to step up and raise me when my father passed away, and she has no idea how to discipline her children. All of them use her and bully her, but she thinks that they love her. Shes delusional, and it makes me feel like I am crazy living in a house with 4 women who do nothing but talk about each other behind their backs, not to mention they are all filthy… I never had a father figure, however I did have my uncle and he was great. When i lived on my own I felt amazing, and I was doing good. Untill i started to get anxiety for some reason and wanted to retreat back here to this so called home. I love my mother to death, but the stress of living here is killing me. I tried to go back to school, I went to university as a mature student, and pushed my self. I got straight A’s first semester, I was in the library everyday, I was working out at the gym and eating right. Now, I failed out of university, I have no job, I am overweight, and I sit at home all day sulking in my mind and destroying myself mentally. I wish I could go back back to school, and live on my own. But its impossible financially as I am in debt and will never get a student loan. My life is ruined, all because my father died. And now I must pick up the pieces of a smart boy who wanted to be a doctor, who is now living the life of a depressed bum. Thank you god.

135 Joshua January 6, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Thank you this was very helpful I learned much of this at a younger age but went through depression with anger issues and some where along the line I had forgotten it all and had been slowly realizing and trying to change back become myself again and this has helped me very much, your a great man for helping children teens and other men out with something so serious and definitely underrated and underrecognized ty.

136 C February 23, 2014 at 2:39 am

My upbringing

Growing up without have dad really affected me in my life. Don’t know if for good, or bad, I wouldn’t know the difference. He was never there. I would see my cousins with his dad, and wanted to always have that same feeling. Never really knew growing up how that feeling felt. Sometimes when I was younger. I would actually cry for my dad without anybody knowing. I got to say that I grew up a boy in the streets, w my friends. I was made fun of, when I showed feelings. So I adapted. Always thought that I should never talk about my feelings. I see my son now, and wonder if my dad ever saw me in the way I see him. How could he let me leave, and not look into my face when I cried out for his name. I was so young, but that memory has been burnt in my memories. Now that I’m older I could never do that to my son. One thing I want to show my son, is to make him realize the opportunities and the dangers of the world. I believe in him learning by personal experience to an extent. Luckily for him, he will always have me there by his side. I, now, am his biggest fan. I’m 26 years old. And I see everything that I was thought by my mom. Unfortunately my mom was very gullible and always working. Never really there. But I appreciate everything she did for me. I had to find my siblings to see how everybody is doing, that was three years ago. And my dad still has not picked up the phone to call me. And see how I was doing. Do I matter in his life, does he even love me? Those were the questions I use to ask my self, now I see that he doesn’t really matter in my life. If he passed away, idk if I would cry. He never taught me anything in life, no knowledge of this world, nor a life lesson. I wish the best for him, but he would have to make an appointment in advance if he ever wanted to see me. I don’t think I feel hate towards him, because now it doesn’t matter what he did. I’m old enough to know the difference and not make excuses. Life goes on, and if ppl care about you, they would want to be part of your life. I really don’t know anything of his upbringing to see if there’s something I can understand as to the reason why he is how he is. Oh well. It’s to late for him to try to be my father. Last time I talked to him, was in Father’s Day to celebrate w him, and I clearly remember, he had company w him, so he said he had to go. I don’t get it, if your son that you never see is trying to do something nice for you. Listen to him. Since then, I just gave up. I never called him again. And I don’t think he’s notice the difference. Looking at my sons eyes, and I have a plan for him. Full of life lessons, and accomplishments. To teach him, that he only needs himself to succeed in life. And to not EVER depend on someone else. You make your own feature and happiness in life. Because for me, I had to learn from the wrong ppl, what I though life was about.

137 Sandeep Di'Fransesco February 23, 2014 at 11:37 am

I agree with most of what is mentioned on this article. I knew my dad, but he was never in my life and he never bothered to spend time with me or any of our siblings and he eventually left when I was 13 until he came back later on (which I’ll discuss later). Growing up as a teenager and a young adult, it felt like I was trying to find an identity of who I am and what I should be like by behaviour and personality as a man. Luckily, I grew up with an intense interest in philosophy and psychology that taught me about the right thing and self-responsibility. I had a decent amount of male figures through my tutors, my friends and my epic church pastor… all who gave a damn and they pretty much saved me from the consequences of not having a father. I’ve been a father\male figure for my sisters and I’ve saved them from the (obvious) consequences of no father in their life too and they’ve never dated a crap and abusive boyfriend, so I’m proud of myself for that. I’m not saying I’ve had any f**k ups on the way to where I can verily say I’ve done everything perfectly by myself, cos I have and I have learnt from those things and will dare not do them again. I’m probably still learning some things now, but they’re things that are probably not big enough to where it can affect my life and behaviour as a person. Anyways, 11 years on, my dad’s now trying to get back in our life after being dumped, used and financially drained by his ex and her kids. As a man of conscious, I’m going to give him a second chance and see how it goes. Who knows where this might go, but one thing is for sure: if he screws up again, he’ll probably be left to die alone as sad, but true as it sounds.

138 Val March 3, 2014 at 5:33 pm

I grew up fatherless, he died a couple months before my birth in a peculiar accident. it was hard for me when I was a young boy to watch my mother’s efforts to keep us in school and well supplied also how she gave up her own personal life for me and my sister. and now as an adult without a career, after trying for years all kind of low jobs, and after seeking help in psycho-therapy I started to think that growing fatherless might also be one of the reasons of my fiasco career wise, my social shyness, lack of sport orientation.

139 Isaac.S March 30, 2014 at 2:26 pm

To start off, I never really knew my dad, since he left when I was at a young age. Seeing my mom struggle showed me that love can change things for people. My mom is one of the strongest people I know, but even she cried when I when I talked about my dad. I guess she knew that my little five year old lips had said everything accept “I love you dad,” and when I do mumble those few tiny words, it wouldn’t be him. Being to that I had little memory of my dad, sometimes I would wish that maybe he would try to talk to me. I really didn’t care how he did it, whether it was though a letter or maybe even a birthday card, I just wanted to know that he was still alive. Finally on July 27, 2008 my mom got a phone call, my dad had died; two days before the phone call, on my birthday. The fact it was a suicide made me wonder if it was a coincidence or not. Suddenly everything was blurry, it wasn’t until then did I realize that life wasn’t fair. That love, a four letter word, had mangled this picture of a normal family in my head. It wasn’t fair, love isn’t fair.
It wasn’t long until I started blaming my mom, I thought that she could have stayed married to him and maybe all of this wouldn’t have happened. Throughout this life crisis I had lost most of my moral values, but it was hard for me to think that everything happens for a reason; That God has this plan for me, but wasn’t marriage suppose to be forever. What God has joined, men must not divide, right. I couldn’t blame my mom and God for what my dad had done to himself.

140 Anon April 6, 2014 at 10:20 am

I now teach school in a juvenile detention center, where 90-95% of my students are fatherless. I am a pretty squared away guy, if I may say so myself, and once got a written and unsolicited comment from a female student of mine — “I wish I had a Dad like you. Just saying.” Outside of my family, I never received a higher compliment and do not ever expect to in the rest of my life.

Be better than your Dad. I was fortunate, my Dad is a pretty good guy. I still want to be better than he was while raising my son.

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