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 }

1 Andrew Galasetti June 17, 2009 at 6:52 am

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write for AoM!

I hope everyone enjoys the article.


2 David Allen June 17, 2009 at 8:46 am

As someone in a similar situation, I 100% agree. I wish this mindset was taught more often than it is. It’s not about wishing things had been better – it’s about using your circumstances as your strength. Growing up without a father sucks but at the end of the day, your successes are more valuable and appreciated because of the adversity you faced to get there.

3 Ernesto June 17, 2009 at 9:05 am

I experienced a similar situation too. My father died of an overdose when I was 13. I thought I had moved over.

Because of the influence of AoM I decided to find mentors to shape my life… and the path is leading to healing.

Today (Father’s Day in my country) I am facing a great challenge in letting an older men become a father figure in my life -he is my pastor, actually-. Even tough it has been an enormous struggle, I am confident that I will leave the hurts behind soon.

4 Zak Garcia June 17, 2009 at 9:37 am

The Johnny Cash song A Boy Named Sue comes to mind.

5 Kevin June 17, 2009 at 9:55 am

#5 is the key to success.

6 Enrique S June 17, 2009 at 10:03 am

My father died of cancer when I was 15. I would attribute my self-sufficient attitude to his passing. I had many male role models to follow in my family, and I never used his death as a crutch. It did make me grow up faster, as I had to take on more responsibility in his absence. But I guess I turned out alright. ;-)

7 Andrew Galasetti June 17, 2009 at 10:08 am

@ David Allen – Exactly! And at the end of the day, you’re in control of your destiny. You can shape your life the way you want.

@ Ernesto – It’s great that you’re taking action to seek a mentor and it’s great that AoM is helping you so much.

@ Kevin – That’s an interesting thought. It comes down to persistence, right? And to be persistent you need mental strength.

8 Andrew Galasetti June 17, 2009 at 10:12 am

@ Enrique S – That’s great that you had a lot of male role models in your family. Most people aren’t fortunate enough to have that. Sometimes it tough to grow up quick, but I’ve found it to be a blessing, more than a curse.

9 Adam Casner June 17, 2009 at 10:44 am

This article was amazing! Very inspirational! Thank you so much for sharing and know that I share in your story too.

10 Jason Ford June 17, 2009 at 11:41 am

Andrew – Thanks for sharing. Got this via AoM’s twitter feed and just got a chance to sit down and read it. I think there are too many guys (and women) who grew up without a father (mine died when I was almost 5) and I feel there two ways you can in life with regards to how you were raised. You can follow or make your own way. I am impressed that you have not only made your own way… but now are encouraging the rest of us to do the same. Bravo! I have added your Lyved site to my regular reading (right there with AoM) and will encourage others via FaceBook and twitter in my post tomorrow

11 Bob Iger June 17, 2009 at 12:02 pm

I agree a 100% with this article, as my experiences tell me the same. Kudos for writing such a great article!

12 Allan White June 17, 2009 at 12:51 pm

The man I work for, Luis Palau (www.palau.org), lost his father at an early age. He seemed to rally and found solace in his faith; he’s become an incredibly productive person as a result. His few years with his dad were memorable, and made a big impression on him.

I’m also interested in what makes some individuals thrive under adversity, and some fail. Victor Frankl “decided to live” in the concentration camps when others gave up – some of us never know what we’re made of until the real test comes.

13 Dave Hall June 17, 2009 at 1:13 pm

I really appreciated your article and applaud your ideas on manhood. I never lost my father physically, he’s still alive and in town, but never really had him either. My father is a very emotionally stifled man and losing my mother to another woman, in the 80′s when I was twelve, I think finished him off. We have contact with one another and I have tried to reach out to him in the past, but to no success. As such, I’ve grown up with a father, but, as you put it, not a dad.

Coming up in a feminist, lesbian household I have been largely on my own in forming my own sense of manhood. I am grateful for finding AoM and seeing there are others out there who share my sense of what a “real man” is.

14 Wayne Levine June 17, 2009 at 4:05 pm

My father died of cancer when I was nine. I grew up with a mother who could never let go of her anger toward her husband for leaving her with three boys and just pennies in the bank.

And just as Andrew points out, I am who I am and I do what I do as a direct result of having grown up fatherless. How ironic is it that through the work I do at BetterMen, this fatherless kid is now a father figure to hundreds if not thousands of men?

I wish I had had a dad in my life. I wish my mother could have brought a man into our lives to kick my ass and teach me how to honor men, women and myself. Instead, I had to learn the hard way, well into adulthood.

But I no longer hold resentment toward my dad for leaving or toward my mom for handling things so poorly. In fact, I have learned to love and appreciate my mom, who is just days away from passing on.

The way I moved forward, in part, was by learning the lessons my father presented to me. It was easy to be thankful for the good stuff. The real challenge was in thanking my father for the tough lessons. For instance:

•Thank you dad for smoking two packs a day and dying at the age of 43. It taught me to never smoke and to value my health so I can watch my kids and grandkids grow up.

•Thank you dad for having a loveless relationship with mom. It taught me the importance of making sure there’s a “love affair’ in my marriage.

•Thank you dad for holding on to your anger toward your siblings. It taught me to let the anger go.

•Thank you dad for not bringing spirituality into our lives. It taught me the importance of the path and of ritual.

•Thank you dad for leaving me. It taught me how important it is for men to have fathers, and it led me to my higher purpose.

Thank you dad. And Andrew, thank you, too.

15 Matt @ Rational Imperative June 17, 2009 at 5:10 pm

I also grew up fatherless (my father left when I was quite young), and I think another thing is that even though I did not have any strong male role models in other areas, my mother made it abundantly clear what duties my father had walked out on. It gave me a great perspective on what a dad certainly isn’t. Great post!

16 Kenney June 17, 2009 at 5:21 pm

Lost my Dad at age 9. I was very fortunate to have various mentors through the years. Growing up in a small town may have benefited me also. Everybody knows everybody, so this was an incentive to watch your p’s and q’s.
My Dad’s health failed over a two year period and it was hell on Mom. I really tried to stay on the straight and narrow, not wanting to cause her anymore heartache through the teen years.
My three daughters are finishing college and grad school and my wife and I continue to volunteer with church youth, trying to do some mentoring myself.
I want to help not only the boys but any kid that needs some direction.

17 Anony Mouse June 17, 2009 at 6:24 pm

My Grandmother, my mother and her siblings were all violently abused by my grandfather their entire lives. My mother was pregnant the moment someone told her she was pretty. My father left while my mother was still pregnant and my mother was forced to live with my grandparents. We lived under my grandfathers thumb until my grandmother passed away. “Finally!” i thought. Ridiculous huh? Being glad your grandmother died so that you could escape the animal she allowed to mistreat her and everyone around her.

Im in my 30′s and i still suffer from the twisted reality that was forced upon me. Each day is a struggle just trying to make sense of it. My relationships with women have all been long term but eventually end because i honestly don’t know how to play my part.

At 15 i became a gang member. I spent my 21st birthday in county jail waiting for court on gun and drug possession charges. I was given probation and forced to spend a year with a monitoring bracelet on my ankle. My time in ‘real’ jail and the ankle bracelet saved my life. It gave me motivation and enough time to escape the mental trappings of beind an idiot.

I have spent the last decade with the brakes on, or it feels that way. I recently broke up with my girlfriend of 6 years, im moving out of our house into an apartment and my finances are in horrible shape. 6 Years ago i lived alone in an apartment just like i do now. Im 6 years older and in the exact same place i was then. Back then my credit was better :).

When i saw a link to this blog today i thought to myself “HAHA the art of manliness.. i bet theres some funny stuff there”. Instead.. i find content that has literally changed my outlook on life… after reading a single article. I dont think THANK YOU covers it but… THANK YOU!

18 Andrew Galasetti June 17, 2009 at 7:28 pm

@Adam Casner – Thanks! Happy to share my story.

@ Jason Ford – Thanks very much Jason. I’m glad you enjoy Lyved enough to add it to your regular reading. That means A LOT to me. Also, thanks for spreading the word on it.

@ Bob Iger – Glad you enjoyed it!

@ Allan White – I’m not sure what makes some people break under adversity while others thrive. Perhaps those who thrive have been through a lot of tough situations in the past and they were just prepared for it.

@ Dave Hall – I know exactly how you feel with having a father but not really a “dad.” Before my father took off for good, I did see him on the weekends, but he just wasn’t a role model.

@ Wayne Levine – Thanks for leaving a comment on Lyved. As I said on my site, your comment really touched me. It’s simply amazing. This Sunday you should read through that list of “thank yous.” And again, I’m really sorry to hear about your mother. We’re all here for you.

@ Matt @ Rational Imperative – Thank you for the compliment and for sharing your story. It’s a tough way to learn, but it’s the only way.

@ Kenney – You sure showed maturity at a young age. And thank you for helping kids out. You might not hear it much, but you’re making a huge difference in their lives.

@Anony Mouse –Thanks very much for sharing your story. You’ve been through a lot my friend, but it sounds like you’ve grown stronger because of it. I’m glad “real” jail time made such a positive impact on you. That’s what the purpose of prison is (besides keeping people off the streets), but most don’t wake up and get “it.” I’m so happy to hear that my article and AoM made such a positive impact on you!! I can’t find words to describe it either :). And one more thing. Despite your relationships and your financial troubles; remember this; it’s not where you’re at that’s most important; it’s where you’re heading. Here’s a great quote to also keep in mind: “Don’t be discouraged; everyone who got where he is, started where he was.” – Anonymous

I’m amazed at how much everyone has taken away from my article. I’m so happy I could write it for you.


19 Scotty June 17, 2009 at 10:58 pm

Similar situation, my dad died when I was six, but he was a true <=Man. I know that from what I do remember of him, and what I have learnt from other sources. I agree with most things in this article, especially because my mother, realising a need for a strong male role model has tried to ensure I've had a mentor growing up, and in some of those men i've seen some of the negatives this article talks about. I'm lucky that now I am surrounded by strong male role models and leaders that I can look up to.

I can understand what is being said in #4, but for me, I cannot think of any other man who I would like to be like other than my father. I understand that unfortunately this isn't a situation that all males find themselves in.

By seeing the hardships my mother has had to deal with, and the seeing the pain of my sisters as they grew up not knowing their father (they were too young when he died to remember him) I have gained a real understanding of what a husband and father should do, by noticing what I would have liked to have done with my father. Hopefully I can remember these lessons, and put them into practice, ensuring that I am a good husband and someone worthy of being called "dad" by my children

20 Dave June 18, 2009 at 7:01 am

Thank you Andrew for this post, and the message carried within it.

I, too, grew up in a fatherless home. My father didn’t die, and he wasn’t abusive. He was simply disinterested in a family. He wasn’t physically cruel, nor did he drink overmuch or do drugs, but he was (and is) selfish in the extreme. He wouldn’t go out of his way to make things difficult for people, but he thought only of himself. The new baby might need a crib, but he would spend that money on a motorcycle. Mother may be 7 months pregnant, but she would be the one to climb a ladder and fix the roof while he’d watch TV. That sort of thing.

My parents eventually divorced when I was about four years old, again, before Kindergarten. My mother absolutely bent over backwards for my sister and I, and I can tell you honestly that as a child, I never really missed having a father because even when he was around he wasn’t around. Having grown into a man, however, I see in my male friends certain traits I have missed. There’s a certain level of Man-ego (not the bad kind) that is simply missing.

That said, like you, I have taken lessons from this. As you said, owning your failures, and taking responsibility for your actions are right at the top of the list. It is absolutely essential that a man be responsible for himself, his actions, and the well being of his family. My family shall not want for my lack of trying. Ever. Nor will I ever blame my failures on someone else. I will own them, learn from them, and become a better man for the learning.

With that comes a complete lack of pity for other men who make excuses for their failures, particularly those that use the lack of a father as their excuse. There are simply far too many success stories out there for me to believe anything other than each and every man is in charge of his own destiny. Excuses are the names we give to our acceptance of failure.

It’s all about responsibility fellas. That’s what makes the man.

21 Matt Maestas June 18, 2009 at 8:09 am

My dad was an alcoholic and abusive physically to my mother and emotionally to my sister and I. Our family lived in fear of him for several years until we moved away. There’s nothing quite like being 12 and the “man” of the house.

I remember much of my motivation coming from a dogged determination not to be like him. One thing that wasn’t mentioned much is the huge role our mothers play in situations like this. It was my mom who taught me how to change a flat tire, check the oil in my car, shoot a gun, field dress and elk and use power tools. In many ways, the man I am today is due in large part to her.

Thanks for this article, it gives voice to a generation of fatherless men, and helps guard against excuses easily made for not manning up.


22 Mike Jimenez June 18, 2009 at 8:21 am

Finally, some reality. Dad’s have always been like dinosaurs fossils or unicorns. They were just fantastic fairy tales where I come from. I want more of this type of real good advice for the other half.

Thank you.

23 Kevin June 18, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Nice article, good insights. My dad wasn’t the most successful or mentally strong man in the world, but he was decent, and my “father figure” happens to be an amalgamation of the male role models in my life. I think its important to have a older, wiser men to look up to and lead you if only by example, to be a stronger man yourself.

24 Andrew Galasetti June 18, 2009 at 4:07 pm

@ Scotty – I think that it’s great that you’d like to follow somewhat in your father’s footsteps. I’m all for blazing a new trail like I wrote in this article, but if your father was a noble man, there’s nothing wrong with being like him in certain ways.

@ Dave – No problem! It was my pleasure to write this article and share my story. Thanks for sharing your story as well. You definitely learned a lot from what you went to. Owning up and being a man is what a lot of “boys” are missing.

@ Matt Maestas – You’re welcome (for writing the article). I totally know that feeling of what it’s like to be 12 and the “man” of the house. I was going to mention the importance of mothers for fatherless children, but this blog is a men’s blog. However, I completely agree with you; single-mothers are very powerful and it’s one of the toughest jobs in the world. I don’t know how they do it.

@ Mike Jimenez – You’re welcome!

@ Kevin – Thanks for the compliment.

25 Jorge June 24, 2009 at 10:32 pm

Really good article Andrew.. I too was raised without a father, he died in an accident when i was 3 years old. It was hard for my mom to raise me all by herself but she did it and did a good job. Having no father made me responsible and a hard worker at a young age. I always looked up to my cousins husband as a father figure, we moved in with them when we moved to this country. He taught me how to be a man and i always hope to be like him. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

26 Andrew Galasetti June 25, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Hey Jorge,

Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed the article.

It’s great that you had someone else to look up to and it’s great that you became responsible and hard working at such a young age. A lot of people who grew up fatherless don’t realize this and that’s why they fall to drugs and crime so easily.

I’m very humbled that so many of you enjoyed my article!


27 Mike H June 29, 2009 at 10:03 am

Great article, Andrew, it validated a lot of my own thoughts and philosophies – thanks! I had a similar childhood, parents divorced when I was very young, dad was (and still is) an alcoholic and abusive. My older brother did what he could, but he had a life to start out on and moved out. I remember a few visits with dad when I was 6 or 7, but nothing really that great.
Caught up to him in my early 20′s and had a few visits, but when the drunken phone calls and ravings started up, that was it – who needs that kind of shit again in their life? I kept pretty straight and narrow, experimented with pot but that was it, I’ll drink socially but it’s not a high priority for me. Married now with 4 stepkids, their real father is an arrogant bastard who has little time for his kids.. I’m pretty much the real father figure. I stepped into the role with courage and knowing it wouldn’t be a cakewalk.
Being a man isn’t a matter of physical strength or how much you can drink and mouth off in the bar, it’s a matter of doing the best you can and treating people with respect, and being there for your family. I learned how to do my own home renos and repairs, how to cut my own firewood, how to cook for the entire family when needed, and how to support my stepkids in their activities and interests. I respect my wife and her hobbies and interests, I don’t belittle her or make her do all the housework – we share it all. I’d say that’s being a real man, instead of being an arrogant drunkard!

28 TheManRevolution June 29, 2009 at 9:48 pm

I really dig the list in the end about what a man is and isn’t. Even though he took care of us financially, he really wasn’t there for me or my family. We were always overlooked, neglected, and just abused. Sometimes I do wish I had the typical dad that I could go play baseball with on Sundays or talk about girls with, but then again, it was this experience that honed me to be the person that I am today.

He was definitely an inspiration to me growing up though. He inspired me to be everything that he isn’t.

29 Andrew Galasetti June 30, 2009 at 4:22 am

@ Mike H – “who needs that kind of shit again in their life?” I totally understand what you mean. I probably could contact my father but I know once we get back together he’ll start lying, breaking promises, and turning back into the person I don’t like. I don’t see the use in having all that drama in my life. I’m doing so much better without him.

It’s great to hear that you stayed away from drugs and drinking for the most part. And it’s AWESOME to hear that you became a real father figure and a great husband! Kudos to you!

@ TheManRevolution – Glad you liked the ending! I couldn’t have said it better myself; “He was definitely an inspiration to me growing up though. He inspired me to be everything that he isn’t.” That’s exactly how I feel about my father.


30 Bradley Williams July 2, 2009 at 1:52 am

Andrew, THANK YOU! I read this nodding the entire time.

I also grew up without a father (without getting into specifics, my parents never married, he was an ass, and just up and left when I was 4 or so). I would like to think of myself, at age 19, as a young gentleman — or at least I try to be.

Your first point is absolutely true … if the issue comes up, I am careful to only use the term “my father” in reference to him.

I have heard various versions of the clichè that one needs a father – or other prominent male figure – in his life, or something will be wrong. Obviously, I disagree strongly, and the other 5 points that you brought up actually summarize my experiences quite well … thank you for putting them into such eloquent words!

All the best,
Bradley Williams

31 Andrew Galasetti July 2, 2009 at 8:46 am

You’re welcome Bradley!

I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

I think that a father figure can certainly be a positive influence, but if a child doesn’t have one to look up to, it’s not a guarantee that he/she will fail. We’re both examples of that!


32 Randy July 6, 2009 at 6:27 pm

Hi Andrew,

Your article and your life is truly an inspiration to many men. Obviously, the topic of fatherhood and absentee fathers is something many of us have struggled with or are currently struggling with.

I am encouraged and excited about the number of men who have decided to “break the cycle” of negative male role models in their families and step up and be the man they needed in their life.

My story is similar to many of those men who have already made comments. I realized early in my life, I didn’t want my kids to experience what I had as a child. Therefore; I decided I would be involved in my children lives. Now they are all grown (we have three adult children, a teacher, a doctor and a lawyer).

At this point in my life, my purpose is to share what I learned to help other men. I have developed a site for men, http://www.thedashguy.com

In June, I shared several articles related to fatherhood, Dealing with your Daddy Wounds, What is a Dad?, Happy Fathers Day, etc.

I would like to offer a free report t all the men, “10 Key Ways Dads Can Positively Impact Their Child” on my site. These are principles I learned through the years and used while raising our three children.

Again, thanks!!

Randy Clark
The “DASH” Guy

33 Andrew Galasetti July 7, 2009 at 8:16 am

Again Randy; great job!! You’re definitely help men and our society out.

Keep up the good work,


34 Deb July 8, 2009 at 1:31 am

Thank you for this beautiful article. I am a single Mom of two wonderful, blessed young men. God knows I do all I can for them but their father simply will not step up to the plate. He is selfish in an extreme sense. My sons are excelling in school and in life. God is blessing us and I believe that my sons will be excellent fathers and husbands because they understand what it means to love and respect a woman. I do worry sometimes that they are not getting enough of a male influence so they participate in sports and church related events. I pray for them everyday and just hope to God that they aren’t missing something vital because their Dad absolutely refuses to do his part. I believe that absent fathers are a big part of what’s wrong with American families. Men were created to be the head of the house and it is obvious that our houses are out of order and dysfunctional in alot of ways. God Bless those fathers who stay with their families and support their wives and children!

35 GLKJR July 8, 2009 at 8:19 am

Great article!

Feels good to know that I’m not the only one who was able to grow and develop my own morals. It definitely was a case of using the opportunity to turn around a legacy of bad behavior and ignorance stemming from that side of my family.

36 Andrew Galasetti July 8, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Hi Deb – First off, let me say thank you for being a single mother. It’s a tough job and I give single mothers so much credit for all that you do. Thank you some much for the compliments! I’m honored that you found the article beautiful. You’re very right that a lot of what is wrong with American families is related to absent fathers.

@ “GLKJR” – Glad you enjoyed the article. It’s great that you used an adversity as an opportunity to turn things around.


37 Jared July 26, 2009 at 7:21 pm

I can relate 100% as well, I too grew up without a father, he was abusive and an alcoholic so my mother left him when I was about 3 months. I have never met him, nor do I want to. What made it hard for me was the fact that I grew up in a female dominated family, with absolutely no male influence at all. My mother never really took much time to help give me the extra attention I needed, so I figured out everything on how to conduct myself as a male on my own. It took me longer than normal males obviously, but I would say confidence was probably my biggest challenge. I have made leaps and bounds in that area now, but I would say I’m not where I want to be as of yet.
Everything your article states is 100% correct, and definitely made me stop and think about how similar I think, in my situation. I would say us fatherless males set higher standards for ourselves because we work hard so that we won’t be compared to our fathers failures..this makes us better men. Good work with the article, it was a pleasure to read

38 Andrew Galasetti July 28, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Hey Jared,

Our stories are very similar! I too grew up in a female dominated house and I have to say that confidence was (and sometimes still is) a very large obstacle. But it’s great that we’re both working on it and want to be better men than our fathers were.

Thanks for reading and for the compliments!


39 Single Mom August 12, 2009 at 3:23 pm

Thank you for your inspiring tips. I am a single mother of two boys, one of the fathers is not around for my 3 year old son. Even at this young age, I notice the impact on my son of not having his father around. Even though my boyfriend of almost one year has tried very hard to step up and be that father figure, it is still a challenge for us because of his behavior. Thank you for giving me hope that my son can still grow up to be a motivated and successful man despite the circumstances.

40 Andrew Galasetti August 13, 2009 at 3:27 pm

My pleasure “Single Mom”! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

It’s very difficult for a boy to not have his father around but it does not mean he will grow up to be unsuccessful.


41 Fatherless woman August 30, 2009 at 5:01 am

Thanks for writing this. I am a woman whose biological parents separated when she was 3 and whose mother remarried a man when I was 13 who didn’t really take part in my life growing up. Luckily I had a very strong mother and a supportive older brother. Like you, I did not become the female equivalent of the fatherless “statistic” – I did not drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant as a teenager, or have attention-seeking destructive relationships with men. Instead, I became a well-educated independent professional. Your point #2 really resonated with me – I learned to be self-sufficient at a young age. #4 is especially poignant because I get asked all the time as a physician whether I am following my dad’s footsteps. (There are many women MDs whose fathers are MDs.)

42 Fatherless woman August 30, 2009 at 5:08 am

There’s also research showing that women tend to seek out mates that are similar to their dads. Since I didn’t grow up with a good example, learning about what makes a good man ala this website and others is very helpful. Fathers, your daughters need you as much as your sons!

43 Andrew Galasetti September 16, 2009 at 2:40 pm

You’re very welcome “Fatherless woman”! I’m glad that this article resonated so much with you. Most of the lessons transcend gender.


44 Mark Steven Czikalla September 22, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Well, sounds like we are on a very sensitive subject. As I read the comments there seems to be a common thread, many of us have not let go of the resentment, or have forgave their dad. Whether he is living or dead. This can be a real burden that will last the rest of your life. I would encourage all young and old men alike let that deep burden go. If you can, seek out your dad and start the process of forgiveness and healing, this will lift your spirit and set you on a path of freedom that is immeasurable. It can be hard to do. How do I start? What will I say? Believe me, there will be a flood of emotions that will paralyze you. First, you must seek out your heavenly father. if you do not know who he is, his name is Jesus Christ. You can find him in the word of God. ( the Bible ). He is the ultimate role model for us men & women to follow, and seek guidance. This process may take months, or years, it is always a work in progress. Second, learn to be mentored, find a silver haired gentleman in your church, or at your place of employment. This also can be hard. But, you can do it. Great men of ancient always had a mentor to seek out guidance and wisdom. Joshua had a Moses, David, the King of Isreal had a Samuel. The 12 disciples had Jesus. Timothy had a Paul. These men were the great leaders and had a warrior spirit. I challenge you to find these men, and when you do, sit at their feet, ask, and listen. And when you do that, your life will be changed for greatness.You will become the mentor and leader of your family, your place of business, the community you live in. People around you will seek out because you have something they want. Prayerfully, Mark Steven Czikalla

45 Jake October 10, 2009 at 7:24 pm

My father never wanted kids, and acted like it. Even before my parents divorced, I only saw him for a grand total of a few hours a week. I can’t recall any good “life lessons” he taught me, or any time when he did anything dad-like. Everything I know about manhood has been self-taught, and I’m really glad to see so many other people have had the same experience one way or another (well, maybe not “glad,” but encouraged).

Mark: Sorry, man. I gotta disagree with you here. Clinging to resentment is definately bad, but swinging into the opposite extreme of total forgiveness is just silly. I don’t hate my dad or dwell on how he hurt me, but I don’t trust him at all and I have zero desire to see him.

46 Nubclub October 19, 2009 at 11:19 am

I won’t go into the gory details, but my father was a genuine pr!ck. Nowadays when I see a dad bein’ a dad, it truly warms my heart.

47 transferml November 4, 2009 at 2:49 pm

My father passed away when i was 17. He was a great man. Loving, Funny, and always a part of my life and my 8 siblings. (i am the youngest). When he left us, i had a huge void in my life and to this day (almost 10 years to the day) I have found very little to fill it…This blog, this website… I imagine to myself are things my father would have said to me if he were still around. Articles like this are priceless.

Thank you. Really.

- Mike

48 Andrew Galasetti November 9, 2009 at 9:46 pm

You’re very welcome Mike! Glad I could help.


49 Tas von Gleichen December 5, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I agree to become a man someone needs to follow his own footsteps. For years I followed someone else’s footsteps. I now realize that I have a lot of catching up to do.

50 Nick McElhiney January 4, 2010 at 1:35 pm

I come from a similar situation as we left my father when i was 6. I never saw him again and only spoke to him once only after I was 20 years old. I agree with your thoughts and insights about personal responsibility which have taken me some time and effort to learn. Growing up alone has taught me to be independent almost to a fault. Learning to trust is equally difficult but not impossible. I have made choice not to have a family for many reasons but mostly I feel that I lack fathering (dad) skills. I feel that would be selfish to any children I father in this world. I feel that this is the most responsible choice I can make. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

51 JO January 8, 2010 at 7:36 am

Your article was a real comfort to me and I’m so glad to hear you overcame the adversity you faced in life.

I am currently pregnant with a little boy who is sadly going grow up without a dad as his dad wanted me to abort and I refused. I don’t fret about being a single mom but I do find myself mourning the fact that my baby will not have a dad in his life and I pray God will guide me in raising him to be the best man that he can be.

52 Justin February 18, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Thanks! That was an a great article. I can relate to it so much because my dad left me when i was young. My mum, who i admire as she’s a very strong woman, raised me on her own with 3 other kids.

I remember fathers day, learning myself and my brother how to shave, having to go to the gym for the 1st time on my own and having to ask my mum about the birds and the bees.

I aim to be a better man than my father was. Men who don’t take care of their kids disgust me. If i ever have kids i’m gonna be there for them 24/7

53 George February 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm

My father died 3 months before I was born, and my mother never remarried or even dated that I know of. I certainly never wanted her to. I think she did an excellent job of raising me and my older sibs. I never doubted that I was loved. We had very little money but we owned a little house outright and that provided blessed stability. I grew up going to church in the same town my whole childhood and felt very much at home there.
I am very thankful that no one ever told me that I should expect less of myself because I had no father. I did not know that other kids with fathers had any advantage over me. (I was not confronted by many rich people to be envious of.) I always knew that I would go to college and have some kind of professional career, and so I have. My public school education wasn’t the best but it was good enough to get me by.

Somehow I stayed mostly out of trouble when some friends of mine did not. I attribute this partly to my own sense that I did not have anyone to bail me out if I needed it, possibly to the community being aware of my situation and cutting me some slack, and primarily to God’s blessings.

I was envious of other kids with close two-parent families. Friends and cousins would include me in their family activities sometimes and I learned many valuable things from this, but I always was conscious of not being a real part and it hurt sometimes.

This made me very interested in starting a family of my own, and my wife and I have raised three kids who are now adults. This has been and is absolutely the best thing in my life. I worried some about knowing how to be a father, but I tried to be the kind of father that I would have wanted. I have made mistakes but I think my children have forgiven me and they are doing well.
Even though I am happy with my life and am fairly successful, I still feel sorry for myself sometimes because I did not have a daddy. I tend to use this to excuse my shortcomings and failures, but this is not helpful and should be resisted.

I would encourage single mothers to not despair and do the best they can. The situation is not ideal but is not impossible and is not all that rare. I think stability is important. LIving in the same town with friends and family can be enormously helpful. Church attendance is also very important for you and your children.

Some stepfathers are good and some are not, so be very careful about that.

Fatherless children should know that there are many people who understand and sympathize with their situation, and that they can get help if they need it. In America they should have every hope of living happy and successful lives.

54 kazi dipu February 22, 2010 at 4:49 am

my father died when i was 8 years old. now i m at my 27. i have three other sisters.
the article reminded some of my past incidents when i had to struggle a lot. actually there are lots of things that can be said about a fatherless boy. now i am a computer engineer, completed my Masters also and have passion to go through phd also. i had to start earning right after my twelve class. and there are lots of emotional moments with my sisters and mother. and now i can feel those were the sweatest moments of my life when we felf for each other in every moment. sometimes my mother and 2 elder sisters didnt have chance to eat. just fed two of us ( me and my younger sis)..now we are self sufficient. all my 3 sis are married. they are happy and solvent. i m also doing job and self dependent.

the writter of this article has shared a list of lessons for a father less child. i just want to emphasize upon one thing. and that is “have faith on u and pray to ur God /Allah/Vagabaan and try not to depend on anyone.” over times things change.

55 Nhaj February 27, 2010 at 10:27 pm

In many part of Asia there are many boys growing up with a very different experience of difficulties being fatherless. I am talking about the Amerasians, children born out of wedlock from many American service men father and a mother from that country. This boys where abandoned by there father even before they were born. Most of then were conceived with there father knowing about it but still left after their tour of duty and when the US pullout their bases on this countries.
I am one of them. My father left me and my brother when i was just six years old. Its one thing growing fatherless in your own neighborhood and its another thing growing up fatherless in the other side of the world where most of us are considered different; because most of us carry our fathers physical feature, and with that we became an outcast, discriminated and branded as children of an escort. Aside from a hunger for a father figure, we grow up with a big pile of questions which on top of it most of us asked ourselves who our father is and do we even belong here. I guess i am one of the lucky ones that after 15 year with hard work and sacrifice i was able to come to the US. Coming here in the US to meet my father again wasn’t the reunion and the healing i was hoping for. Our encounter made me realized all the reason why he left and added more questions and widened the void within me. Now i have 2 boys of my own and i had been an everyday struggle, learning and adventure on how to became a “Dad” to them. On the other hand educating my self on such article as this to somehow filled up the void and with faith to God hoping for a closure.

56 Paul March 6, 2010 at 4:09 pm

I can completely relate to this story. I grew up without a stable father figure in my life, despite seeing my father on an inconsistent basis. He was in and out of my life since I was born and was a depressed alcoholic. He did take me fishing or hunting once in a while, but I always felt like I never was able to get close to him. I never really knew him as a person. I just viewed him as someone who was indulgent, materialistic and enjoyed being drunk almost every night. I am 28 years old now and the last time I spoke with him I was 20. At that time, I was written off as someone who would undoubtedly end up in trouble or on drugs. Despite all that, I went to a trade school, earned a few certifications, put in long hours, worked hard, gained experience, and now I am employed as a contractor for Harvard University. Along the way, I have luckily had many people in my life that I consider father figures (my uncle and my father-in-law being the biggest ones). So even though the naysayers doom the fatherless children to a life of nothingness, growing up without a father teaches you how to survive and be a better person. No doubt an idea that gets lost with other, more-privileged young men who sometimes can’t even tell up from down once they leave the proverbial “nest.” I am happily married and currently a homeowner as well. Of course there are things that I would have liked to be different growing up and things that make me angry from time to time. But overall, I think the lessons I have learned allowed me to accept the good with the bad and taught me that voids can be filled by others. The old adage is that it takes a village to raise a child. I thank my lucky stars every day for those men who played the key roles I needed.

57 The_Patient March 12, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Thanks for this article! I haven’t come across anything written like this before and it is something that I did seek, even just to read or hear words that spoke to something inside me that I dont know how to express. I think Ive overcome it all, but then Im reminded by a somewhat dull ache inside, is all I can describe it as.
Like many men in these comments, I grew up in a female dominated family (but it was full of love) and I dont know my biological father (though I think hes alive) and my first step Dad was very abusive to us, but he was eventually physically out of the picture when I was about 6.
Growing up without a father, or another male in the house, I feel like a self made man. Like I had to make myself, and like others have described, and I completely agree, the confidence is the biggest issue. I have had to teach myself and learn how to be with other men, which can be alittle difficult with the absence of males growing up while having to learn to trust others after a step Dad like I had.
Im not where I want to be yet, emotionally, (but Im only 19) I am working on my inner strength everyday. And everyday I feel it is improving, but it has taken me having to push myself, and try not to be weakened by any knock backs. Ive had to be my own father and trainer, and while I come up short more often than not, getting this far is a blessing that I know I wouldn’t have gained were it not for God.

Again, thankyou and well done for this article. Its good to hear inspiring words coming out of situations like this. The idea of a fatherless man isn’t generally looked at, or seen as big deal, so it is good to see it addressed in a positive and non dwelling way!

58 cullen March 20, 2010 at 9:39 am

Hello, thank you for this wonderful article.
I have lived my life dadless, I have had a father but when turned 4 my dad cheated on my mom and they got divorced. My father does not drink regularly(that I know of) but he moved a hour away from where I live(got remarried), he pays his child support. But I only see him once a month, to maybe go see a movie, sometimes see him a lot less often.If he was truly my dad I feel he would see me more, he always says he does not have enough money to come see us, but I know if he wanted to he would.
And even when he was their in my 0-4 age I do not remember him, like I remember my father.I do not know if I want my fathers name(last name) I have thought of changing it to my moms, but maybe I can make my father’s looks good, heck I do not know.

59 Michelle March 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Thank you!!

60 Xochitl March 21, 2010 at 3:45 pm


I am a single mom of a 8 month old baby boy. I came across your website by accident and have to admit it has brought a sigh of relief to read that I have not been wrong as to what I think a real man should be. I have cried for months and blamed myself for my son’s father walking out on us. I have tried to blame myself for his cheating on me during my pregnancy and afterwards. I blamed myself for him walking out on us when are son was 3 months olds so he could provide a home for the other woman and her children. I have put up with insults, blame and many other kinds of abuse you can think of from him. But today 3/21/2010 I realized after reading this article THAT HE IS NOT A MAN… Thank you so much for your website it has given me some understanding and peace of mind of what is not a man and next to it is a picture of my sons father. I vow to teach my son to be a great man, husband and father. I understand that it was not me, that in reality it is him and the lack of him accepting responsibility for his actions. When he left i was still o maternity leave, and was laid off 3 days after I went back to work. Since then I have found a home not just a house for my son and I. I am currently looking for work and pray each day for strength. I want my son to be a MAN of courage, strength and Dad once he has earned that privilege. Because to be a father it is a privilege and not a right. Thank you again =)

61 Cynthia March 28, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Hello i’m writing to you about my son he is 23 years old now but he grew up without his dad and he brings it up sometimes do you know of anyone in high desert near Victorville that went through growing up without a father who my son could talk to or is there a group out there he can go to but one on one might be better

62 Theresa Kersten May 7, 2010 at 1:42 am

Hello I hope this will reach you. My boyfriend lost both parents at very important times in his life one his Father when he was young and another his Mother at middle age. Michael talks a lot at times I believe it may be from stress also, Michael is also a bit short temperd at times. My “Q” is I would like to bring the subject of Michaels parents with him we have been going out for 4 mo. now and I care deepley for him. How would I go about bringing this subject up to Michael some men are more on the down low about things like this I don’t want to make him feel less of a man bringing the subject up about his parents.

63 Irish Joe May 13, 2010 at 10:58 am

they say not having a father makes a fella want to prove himself more
and the amount of prime ministers who have had no father is said to illustrate this
I suppose my grandad was my strong support through my early years
he passed on about 3 years ago
although I believe the body isn’t all there is to a human being
he was a strong supportive dignified ,noble, respected, humourous caring old wise man
connected strongly to the earth and to his values, heart,soul and family
just me and my mother living together these days and I’m getting it to gether about moving home and finding a good place to live
It helps to be supported in ones sense of being a man especially in ones early formative years
I gain strength from role models such as spiritual teachers and musicians Johnny cash, neil young and the like
listening to peoples stories through music can help you feel less alone
and my minds at ease knowing this life is just a temporary stop over
notably wayne dyer has helped me through his work on self reliance which he learned through expierience being an orphaned child and having to make his own way to sucess without a father whom he forgave at his grave ,gave up his dependence on alcohol and became ‘the father iof motivation’ and a light and inspiration to those seeking meaning,purpose,peace and sucess
there are plenty of role models out there or in the past
even Barrack Obama has mentioned how not having a father made him what he is
not having a ‘dad’ like most people or the ‘ideal’ family is tough
but at the end of the day nobodys perfect
and we have to navigated the river of life independently , but there are always friends and helpers on the way
we just have to not be to proud to accept help
life is full of challenges
not having a father is just another demanding challenge that can make you stronger and more self reliant, inedpendent and your own person
thank you for all the insights into this important subject
it reinforces what I knew and wanted to know on the inside
and thanks for reading what I have to say
wishing you all the best in life

64 Andrew Galasetti June 1, 2010 at 8:10 pm

@Theresa Kersten – I understand your concerns about bringing up the touchy subject. I can only speak for myself, but it has helped tremendously for me to talk about my parents and my father leaving. At first it was tough, but by thinking and talking about it I’ve been able to find purpose in it.

I wish you and your boyfriend the best!


65 Drew June 18, 2010 at 7:09 pm


I know my father but he’s never been part of my life (he left when i was about 7).
I’m 19 now and find myself loosing sleep at night, feeling that sort of emptiness. I never thought growing up without a father or without any father figure would have such a impact on my life. Mostly I’ve felt inadequate, what kind of man will I be if I’ve never seen what it is to be a man? What kind of man should I be? Who are the men I should be looking up to? I feel I could be so much more then I am but battle to break through that barrier form being a little dependent boy to a self sufficient man.
I’m defiantly missing that guidance that my mom could never offer and this article has helped show me the kinda attitude or mind set I need to adopt to possibly start growing emotionally.

Only thing is now I’m angry with him for putting me in this position and not being there when I needed him, should I let him know it? Does it even matter seeing that little will come of it? I don’t want to hold a grudge against the man.

66 Andrew Galasetti June 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Hi Drew,

Our stories are eerily similar. I’m basically the same age (22) and I totally understand the emotions you’re going through. I still have them from time to time. It’ll take us a lot of work and time to rid ourselves of these questions and emotions. Even at our age, we’re still in transition from boys to men.

I’m not sure if you should get in touch with your father and tell him how you feel, that’s a decision you have to decide on your own. For me, I don’t think I’d want to. I feel like nothing much would come from it. I certainly don’t hate my father’s guts because I don’t like to hold anger like that. It just frustrates me a lot that he’s wasted his life and that he’s hurt a lot of people but doesn’t seem to care. But I also have to look at the positives of him leaving. If he’d stayed my life wouldn’t be turning out so great. He was very abusive towards my mother and made life a living hell. And without him I’ve built the motivation to live the best life I possibly can and be the best person I can possibly be.

I highly recommend you think about reading some books. It’s unbelievable the power that they can do to your mindset. Check out Henry David Thoreau and this list here at AoM: http://artofmanliness.com/2009/11/15/50-best-books-for-boys-and-young-men/

Please feel free to visit my site too: Lyved.com and shot me an email if you’d like to talk further!


67 James July 20, 2010 at 4:16 am

Deciding whether to speak to your father or not is a big decision, and it’s good that you’re considering it. I think I can provide some insight through my own experiences.

My situation: my father was an abusive alcoholic and drug addict who phased himself out of my life, then left completely when I was 10. At 14, he called me and said that he was thinking of coming around to see me. I meekly responded that that would be fine. A week later, before I ever saw him again, he overdosed on heroin.
I had so many feelings that ran through me during that phone call, a week before his death. So many things I would’ve told him had I been prepared. I’d spent 4 years wondering where he was, whether he thought about me, whether I’d know when he died….But because I was caught off guard, and because I hadn’t developed any level of composure by that age, I simply couldn’t bring myself to tell him those things. I missed the only opportunity I ever had to tell the one person in my life who’d hurt me the most just how much damage he’d done. Who knows how I’d feel now if I’d been able to tell my father what was going on in my head. But I can say this: I just turned 25, and the fact that I didn’t speak up still eats at me every day.

If you choose to speak to your father, and tell him that you’re upset with him and his actions, you should go into it knowing that you’ll likely never convince him that he’s wrong. You should go into the conversation with just one goal: verbalizing your thoughts and feelings, putting them out there for him to know, and leaving it at that. While that may not provide closure, and may not be as satisfactory of an ending as you’d like, it’s all you can expect. But that alone can be very therapeutic. And trust me, you don’t want to live the rest of your life wishing you’d told him just how big of an impact his poor choices have had on you.

68 James (same as above) July 20, 2010 at 4:29 am

@Andrew Galasetti

Sorry if the above post was a downer, but just wanted to provide whatever perspective I could for Drew. On a more positive note, thank you Andrew for writing this article, and focusing on the positive lessons you can take from situations like ours. A lot of what you write is true, and while growing up fatherless can be tougher than growing up in a “traditional” household, it’s important for young men in those situations to know that you CAN overcome it and become a successful, respectable man.
Like I mentioned above, my father left when I was 10, OD’d when I was 14, and I’m 25 now. My situation has led to a lot of bad feelings and dark days, but more than anything it’s inspired me to be the positive male figure that my father never was. With the help of my mom, I’ve made myself into a success. I graduated from high school, then graduated from college, and just last month graduated from law school. I’ll be taking the bar soon, and with a bit more hard work and luck I’ll be in a position to earn a healthy living for my (future) family for decades to come.

69 Thomas July 29, 2010 at 3:32 am

I found this website a few days ago, and this is yet another article that has changed my outlook on how to live like a true gentleman. My mother left my father around the time I was born. He was not abusive or anything like that as far as I know, but what I have heard about him has so far been nothing but good things. But he liked to drink…..alot. When I came around he was physically unable to stop the addiction, and that does not mean that he didn’t love me because my mother recalls quite well that when she announced that she was leaving, he broke down and cried. I’m now 18 and I know he loves me but he found a new family before I needed him and being in contact with me while having another family would be……complicated. I have nothing of him but an old photograph and a bunch of stories. His self-destructive behavior has led me to steer clear of that no matter how much others temp me. I think of his addiction every time someone talks of their big weekend getting smashed with a bunch of people and it makes me feel 100% better about saying no than normal. I’m extremely proud of my mother for supporting me through all the tough times, even though we do have our arguments. I’m also proud of her for finding my step-father who is the best father-figure anyone could ask for. Thanks AoM and Thanks Andrew because now I don’t feel so alienated about growing up without a father and I feel I’ve found a place where I can learn the values of a true gentleman. I’m sorry for the long post but when I share with people it kind of pours out until the end.

70 Julie August 7, 2010 at 5:53 pm

My boyfriend who I have been with for almost 4 years grew up with no father. He has an older brother but he is not a good role model for him. My boyfriend did get into drugs in high school before I met him but only smokes pot. He drinks a lot and has two DUI’s. It is very sad. He plays video games all day and is lazy. I keep hoping and praying that he will one day wake up and decide to stop living this type of life. He needs to read this book….it would be great for him. But it is his choice. It is just so sad to see him waste away his life and so frustrating for me to see him do this because he is so smart and really could be successful in life. There are probably a lot of guys out there like this, who grew up fatherless but this book shows that there is still hope for guys like that, to turn it around and become a man. I just HOPE my boyfriend will ONE DAY and that I am not wasting my time. If anyone wants to make some comments about this feel free :)

71 James August 18, 2010 at 8:31 pm


Sorry to say it, but it’s probably not wise for you to expect your boyfriend to change his path. Most guys are pretty set in their ways, even if they’re counter-productive. People can certainly change, but it would probably take years of therapy and introspection and a nose-to-the-grindstone attitude for him to become what you think he can. Realistically, that won’t happen (especially without some impetus like being dumped).

72 farhad October 2, 2012 at 2:05 pm

the best thing a fatherless boy can do is not to grow up and the worst thing he can do is getting married

73 RR October 8, 2012 at 3:56 am

Thank you for this article… I have a baby boy and he doesn’t have a dad. He is beautiful, smart, affectionate… and he doesn’t know exactly what is is I am sure he feels he is missing. There is no time, head space, or desire to “put myself out there” (as my girlfriends put it), so there won’t be a dad any time soon. I am dreading the day my son finds out what a “non-man” the Y-factor is… and the inevitable pain I know will play on his face. He deserves sooo much more and it just kills me. I wonder about how the fallout of this knowledge will effect him. Although I know your layers run deeper, it was comforting to see these words. I will likely fall back on them. Thank you.

74 Fatherless #987979 October 15, 2012 at 12:52 am

Thanks for the article. It confirms the life philosophies that I’ve spent years trying to build for myself. Until recently, I had been aimlessly strolling through life, having a hard time identifying what I stand for, having severe social awkwardness and being depressed. Over the past year, I’ve made significant improvements.

Here’s some background on me. I don’t seek pity, but I wish to enlighten.

I’m 19. My mother has been diagnosed with a sort of schizophrenia from chemical imbalances. As long as she takes her sleeping meds, all is fine. If she doesn’t, she’ll start thinking that our family is down stairs with a “cancer machine.” Aside from this, I consider her an awesome mom, though not necessarily the most balanced. She’s never been social or had many friends.

This made me realize that “life is about people,” and being socially capable is basically a necessity, especially if you plan on working in the entertainment industry.

The father? Practically non-existent, aside from a couple visits I had when I was around 13. After that, I tried to set up a visit during the holiday and never received a reply afterwards. Never bothered again.

Back to my mom: she’s always been very insecure. I literally wouldn’t have a car right now if I had listened to her. Many of my best decisions were in direct contradiction of what she suggested. She’s relied on government funds and been in a state of severe debt for nearly my whole life. Seeing how limiting this can be, I strive to invest my money rather than consume unproductive materials. I’ve learned that if you focus all your energy on security, you’ll never progress forward. Risks must be taken to push forward to higher places. Investments must be made in order to live prosperously.

My older brother is “mentally challenged” and acts like a 15 year old even though he’s 30. He’s sniffed and drunk just about any consumables out there and he never graduated high school. He’s been in jail a number of times. He’s in a viscous cycle of nothingness at the moment. He’s basically everything I strive NOT to be. His behavior makes it seem as if I’m HIS big brother. He’s shown me the effects of drugs, discouraging me from using them, despite numerous opportunities.

My point in mentioning these things is to show that you don’t need to have a trophy family to be on the right path. I have the soul of a 50 year old because I’ve “lived through” the lives of others and learned their lessons without even experiencing them. We have a choice of being victims of our circumstances or to become something great. We only have one chance at this life. We might as well do it right.

I’m not going to lie though; I still feel the emptiness, but productivity helps alleviate the feeling.

75 Travis Anderson October 25, 2012 at 6:10 pm

This helped me a little bit, for i grew up without a father. I’ve only seen him once in my entire life, and he wasn’t even happy to see me. I can relate with some of the topics on this post, I have realized the line between boy and man, and some of my friends haven’t, at all. I’m 17, so legally I’m not a “man”, but I feel like one. I don’t run from responsibilities, and I face things head on. I don’t ever want to follow the footsteps of him, but I can say he has given me the gift of musical inclination. He plays/played guitar, and so do I, but my ma has told me countless times he doesn’t hold a candle to me. He ruined his chances doing drugs, and I’ve been offered many chances to record my own music, i just don’t feel as though I’m ready yet. But this post has opened my eyes a bit, and I sincerely thank you for that.

Travis Anderson

76 phiz October 27, 2012 at 6:25 pm

I want to say Thank You, I’m going to share this with my son who is almost 13 I have been looking for away to help him see the difference between a boy and a man. He asked recently if the government considered him a man at 18 I tried to explain but I’m not sure I did well.. We lost my husband, their father, dad, daddy about 3 1/2 years ago. He was nothing but a stand up Man in every way, As a son, brother, friend, Dad, husband, and uncle. I hope the view here will help my son see what a Man is and to see he CAN be a stand up Man just like his Dad!!!

77 leonardo December 20, 2012 at 10:41 am

Thanks a lot for this. 46 y.o. from Milan, Italy, grown without a Dad by a Mom Father. Almost devasting. Still rowing ashore. Abandoned her and us when he knew she was pregnant. A Hero.

78 Beretta Heart December 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm


i am a woman and i grew up without a father … he was not dead, he did not leave us, but he was working all the time and not at home, when he was at home, he did not buildt any relationship to us/me … i sometimes do not know whats accurate for fathers – how to behave and how not to – i lack a lot of knowledge and experiences with dads …. this makes me kinda scared from men ,,, i know how it must sound for u … but seriously, can u give any advice maybe for me as a woman without father too ?? … thank you for ur awsome homepage … its very delightful for me to read it ::)

Beretta Heart

79 Ford December 25, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Amazing article, first of all. I basically grew up without a father. I was an “every other weekend” kid after my parents divorced until I was 17. I’m 22 now. My dad died a year ago next month and I think that was the day I truly became a man. Since the day he died, I have learned how to make my own way in the world and learned to take my responsibilities more seriously. My grades improved, my relationships (for the most part) improved, and I’m moving 600 miles away to Chicago for the summer to work on my internship. I encourage everyone who has had a similar parental situation to find what it is that you’re passionate about and pursue it. My internship came about by a chance encounter with my roommate’s cousin in Chicago and I just recognized the opportunity and ran with it. This is when I realized that everything happens for a reason and everything works itself out for the best, as long as you’re prepared to take risks and accept opportunities. *steps off soap box*

80 Derwall December 26, 2012 at 3:28 am

40yo male here, my father took-off the day I was born according to my mum. He appeared at our home every year or so, would eat and then fall asleep on our sofa for the rest of his afternoon visit. I always knew growing up that I was not as well mentally developed as my peers. I was shy, stayed away from social occasions and as a consequence became even more withdrawn. It was a vicious circle for me, the more I took myself out of normal social occasions the more anxious i became about having even a simple conversation with people. Recently I became a father myself at 39 and have began to think back to the impact his actions had on my development. His selfish actions cost me big time I believe. I just cant imagine ever walking out on my daughter and wife. I know some people say things like, its better to have no dad than rowing parents that stay together for the sake of a child. I dont know. What I do believe is that my life without a father figure made me make myself an outcast becuase i didnt learn the basic man behaviours from anyone and have suffered since from anxiety and stress related to this. I come from a family that dosent discuss fellings. Thanks for the post, it gave me an outlet for a struggle I still deal with. I love my daughter and wife so much and my families happiness is my greatest persuit. maybe he made me a good father by contrast, but he gets no credit for that. If you are a father considering abandoning a child, you should know that it will potentially screw your child up for life. if you are not man enough to deal with your responcibilities, dont expect to walk back into your childs life at a time that suits you. It’s to late to be a dady after your child has suffered from your seflish actions.

I now thimk my dad was a cowardly waste of space.

81 tommy December 30, 2012 at 2:05 am

The problem with our society that has long persisted, is that male purpose in life has always been tied to females…ie FAMILY..
the reason men are lost is that, truly so, they are NOT NEEDED in families. this FACT MUST be accepted and only then can we redefine manliness… we MUST define a purpose for men that is INDEPENDENT of women..

most FEMINISTS are stupid in that they don’t see beyond Misogyny .. they don’t UNDERSTAND or want to UNDERSTAND that there is a reason behind MISOGYNY, that it IS caused by something else and that MEN are NOT born with it…

MEN have always needed women for family, and herein lies the seeds.. since they need women for FAMILY and hence for purpose, they NEEDED to control women to have a stable purpose.. if women could get up and leave with the child, they would lose their role,and hence we had institutionalized misogyny as marriage, religion etc..

in order to find true independent MALE purpose and truly end MISOGYNY, we need to set right it’s origin..
women have a sexual purpose in life independent of men—their womb gives them that purpose while men need to find women to get theirs..

what MEN and society at large needs to do, is to find an HONORABLE, RESPECTABLE PURPOSE that is INDEPENDENT of women… only then will men be free and only then can we have a better definition of MANLINESS…and finally end all misogyny..

82 Damian Mckenzie January 13, 2013 at 5:34 am

i am ecstatic that i am not the only one who feels this way, thank you very much for posting this it means alot.

83 James Owen January 14, 2013 at 1:44 pm

I am pot addicted loser who dropped out of uni, i never really had a father, he was a coward who never really cared for me because he was too worried about his own life. The once a week i had to see him was like a brain washing session about how bad my mothers family was! not to mention he was an alcoholic whore fiend who subjected me to such a life when i was very young. he forgot birthdays, never really gave me money actually he’s never done all that much for me but most of all he was never there for proper father son time. I never trusted him enough to take the little advice he gave thats why writing this makes me cry, the fact he left me all alone with my bipolar mother who is only trying to do her best while dealing with her demons shocks me into a frenzy of depression anxiety and fear. to think i have been dealing with this since i was 12 makes me wonder…… I am 22 now with so much potenital to do great things, but every time i fall down i find it harder to pick myself up, every day is battle in my head to beat drugs and follow the path i should be following. when i come to fight my battles i am standing there facing an army of depression anxiety and fear. In a barrage of attacks done by my demons i stand there with a bong in my hand solid and untouched by any pain. Although these battles are won day by day i feel the end drawing close as if i’m about to set sail on a different journey. i live to fight another day, and i will use hope as my guide.

84 Trevor January 23, 2013 at 12:04 pm

its takes a strong person to write about something like this well done , understood 100% , my father left when i was a baby never knew him at all , childhood was rough thinking the sod doesnt want to know me , mum had issues too, found out that he pass away 3 years back when i meet his older brother , even he said your luckly not to have knowen him !!!! what the hell , all these years i thought thinking what he was like . but i had good mates to chat to and have turned out ok , good job etc etc , nearly 40 now with my own two children they do my head in some times but what children dont eh , missing out on being a dad ..no way in hell !

85 Quinn January 23, 2013 at 4:43 pm

Thanks for the useful article.
I used to envy my fatherless friend. My dad lived with us but he never did anything with my brothers and me, except yell at us and hit us. My friend would occasionally talk about his dad in glowing terms. His reality was a fantasy or a dream and this sustained him until he was old enough to come to terms with being fatherless.
My reality however, was the opposite. I had no escape. I had to deal (or not deal usually with drugs and/or alcohol) with the reality.
Funny, but he may have been a good role model, of sorts. With my own kids, I just do everything he didn’t, and the opposite of everything he did.

Thanks again,

86 Riley Padron January 25, 2013 at 7:58 pm

While my childhood situation wasn’t as serious as yours- my father stuck around a little bit longer but he was addictive and violent towards my mother- I found myself growing up with the same sort of conviction. I aspire only to be the things he could not be. Here, I am so glad to see all of these men doing the same thing and breaking the hideous cycle that so many children fall prey to and can never return from. Thank you very much for your tips on what a father should be; I eagerly await the day I am able to be everything my children need, to provide and love and protect. Thanks again.

87 Brian January 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm

“A courageous man stands up for the weak…”

Beautiful sentiment. I wish this value was passed down more often.

88 K January 31, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Fatherless daughters end up reading websites and articles like this, too. Good reading.

89 17 canada January 31, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Thank you for this post. The statistics I read online about fatherless youth make me feel like I will not grow up to be anything succesfull. Great article!

90 Tevin Banks February 10, 2013 at 4:59 am

My name is Tevin I want to first say thank you because this article gave me a little more hope than what I woke up with this morning im 20 years old and I have never met my father I hate to say it but It still effects me everyday I had to grow up my whole life watching my mom struggle and go from bad relationship to worse my brother who also doesnt know his father is in prison and has been for 8 years and two more to go for various crimes he wasnt a good role model but I cant blame him my father left when I was 2 never even signed my birth certificate but paid child support till I was 18 though I never met him but I did find my other brother on facebook who I also never met and found out that my father has alot of kids but the only one he never claimed was me ive been growing up alone basically trying to make it so my mom and family would be proud of me I dont even know what I want todo with my life im in college though I made it past high school just barely ive been locked up 3 times since the age of 13 Im not sure what im goin to do next but I wanted to tell someone my story I also thank the people who commented it made me feel better knowing I wasnt alone

91 Luke Potts February 12, 2013 at 3:24 pm

This article is very interesting, and it’s nice to hear these things from someone else. There is one item I would add to the list, though, even as a teen. Religion. Relying on and relishing in your faith for strength can help a lot also, but only if you believe in the rules and morals of that religion, whatever it may be. I am in the process of getting confirmed in the Catholic church, and I have began to further my maturity through my faith.

92 jsd March 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I wish I had read this when I was young…

93 Catalin March 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm

very inspiring article, nice reading this. I can relate

94 Ashley March 9, 2013 at 11:25 am

This is a great post! I had a very similar upbringing where my parents divorced at the age of 5. My dad did drugs and abused my mother. He was always in and out of my life which i think scarred me more than anything for him to pop in as he pleased. This post is spot on at articulating what a man is and isn’t. Although I’m a female, I still experienced the same struggles with growing up without a father. I wrote about it more here (http://chitownandallaround.blogspot.com/2012/08/without-dad.html). Fortunately now for my son he has an actual Father who is a great man to me and our son. I’ll definitely reference this post every time this topic needs clarification because trust me, I come across it one too many times.

95 Sule March 15, 2013 at 6:48 am

What you wrote gave me the hope that my son would lead a normal life after what his father has done to him. Unkept promises, seeing their time together as a burden, yelling and crticising him all the time. Now the man has moved to another city and I was worried that they would not see each other enough. I guess that was the best thing he did for the sake of my son’s future. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m fed up with the pessimistic research findings on the children without a father figure.

96 Dave March 18, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Like the author, my parents got divorced when I was very young. That’s where a lot of the similarities end. Admittedly, I was lucky. I had a father who wanted to show me how to be an athlete (no matter how resistant I was), a gentleman, and introduce me to the culture of manhood. He showed me love, in his own way.

He also showed me the consequences of weakness and enslavement to one’s appetites. He wasn’t a drunk, but he did have an eye for pretty women, and it cost him over the years. It turns out that I have a similar appetite for women, but rather than letting it control my life, I’ve learned to appreciate without attempting to possess or pursue.

Unlike him, I have been required to be an absentee father as a consequence of my military service.

What I would recommend to any father who is spending less time with their children by virtue of divorce or deployment are these simple things.

First, demonstrate your love for your child. I’m not going to tell you how to do that. It depends on your dynamic. I will say that if my father were to have tried discussing literature with me, it would have rung as false as me telling one of my daughters that we were going to shoot some hoops.

Second, express to your co-parent what your objectives are. My ambition is to raise thinking, responsible and independent adults. I want them out of my house and contributing to the rest of the world. Rather than sheltering them from all harm, I teach them to deal with those things that would harm them.

Third, be consistent with notions of right and wrong without being inflexible.

Fourth, learn to admit when you’re wrong.

Fifth, let them know that while you won’t always approve or agree, you will always love and teach.

To wrap things up, parents are essential in the rearing of well-adjusted children. It’s hard enough to do it with two, I find it amazing how many people get by doing it by themselves. However, we must decide to take action on our own. We must teach our sons to be the men we want to be, and we must teach our daughters to accept no less than the standards we want for them.

97 Nikki March 24, 2013 at 3:20 am

Thanks so much for your thoughts and the hope they give a Mum raising a wee boy on her own Andrew! Go Well!

98 Ejumotan Michael March 24, 2013 at 7:48 am

I grew up without a relationship with my father too,and it has been quite confusing growing up all thru….hanging out with my friends who had father figures to look up to and follow kinda of helped cos it made me realise wot i had missed in life,but i guess having a free mind to think for myself kinda helped growing up although it was more difficult

99 R.M. March 24, 2013 at 11:47 am

Wonderful article. Thanks so much for posting it. I just read it even though I received it months ago.

I don’t know who my father is/was: I was told what his name is, but have never physically seen him. He and my mom met in high school…were attracted to each other…eventually found themselves in a the backseat of a car…9 months later I said hello to the world. As I grew older I asked questions about him, but was told he died when a gambling debt went south. Not sure if I believe that because people in my family sometimes lie in order to avoid conflict. There could be a pink elephant in the room and they’ll say “Excuse me…pardon me” just to get by because pretending like everything is ok is better than actually making it better by dealing with problems head on.

Needless to say it’s been difficult growing up without him, but I think that forced me to strive to be a better man than he ever was. I don’t have kids (and at my age, it’s not likely to happen), but I do have nieces and nephews and I can lavish all the love I have on them-all of whom are fatherless themselves-and be the kind of example I wished I had as a young person growing up.

Not having a father didn’t destroy me.
It really did make me a better-not bitter-man. :)

100 Joshua March 25, 2013 at 5:16 am

I am amazed by how much I can relate to several stories on this site of fatherless boys on the journey to manhood. Thank you for the hope.

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