Get Emotional: A Valuable Legacy from Father to Son

by Jan 28, 2016Emotional Resilience

My father never taught me to understand my emotional needs. This led to disaster in my life, and I knew I wanted to model a healthier path for my son. I wanted to leave a better legacy to my children.

It was only as an adult, while in recovery from pornography addiction, that I learned the importance of recognizing and meeting emotional needs. I also discovered that my lack of addressing emotions was a root cause to my compulsive pornography use.

Emotional Skills to Avoid Addiction

Pornography is far more enticing than it was when I was a boy. As a father, I wanted my son to have skills that would enable him to avoid the addictive effects of pornography. I knew his best chance would be to learn to meet his own emotional needs through relationships. Reality had to meet his emotional needs in ways fantasy could not. He needed to know that emotions are good and expressing feelings makes men stronger. Avoiding addiction requires authentic connection with others.

Johann Hari  author of the New York Times best-selling book “Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs,” affirms this idea, “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.” Dr Mark Laaser, certified sex addiction specialist and therapist, puts it this way, “Sex [and pornography] addiction is a relationship disorder.” Relationships brought me out of addiction, and I believed connectedness could keep my son from falling into it.

For a boy to understand that he has emotional needs, he must first learn to distinguish the different emotions he is feeling. When our son, Lucas, was in grade school, my wife and I would model expressing our emotions.

Emotional Modeling Scripts

For example, if  I messed up a project at work and my employer was unhappy with me, I would come home and express my feelings in words that Lucas would understand at whatever age he was. When he was especially young, that meant saying nothing more than, “I feel sad today.” As he got older I might share that “I felt like a failure” or “I felt unappreciated.” I would usually say these things to my wife, but made sure Lucas was in the room when I did. Then I would be sure to explain what had happened that left me feeling down.

After expressing my emotions, I needed to show my son what it looks like to process or work through them. In the example of doing poorly at work, I would typically hug my wife, then say something like, “Maybe I’ll call one of my friends and talk about it because that might make me feel better.” The point being, emotions are not to be stuffed but talked through with safe people.

By doing this I was showing him:

a) men have feelings

b) men can express feelings without anger

c) men can take responsibility for reaching out to find comfort

d) men can find comfort from sharing their feelings with other men.

Most importantly, I was showing Lucas that negative feelings can be coped with in positive ways.

My Son Internalized My Emotional Modeling

Lucas listened to me express my feelings long before he shared his own. Then, when he was in fifth or sixth grade, he came to me after school saying, “I just feel sad today for some reason.” I know this may sound insensitive, but I was actually very excited to hear him say that. He had internalized what I was modeling!

I hugged my son and said, “I’m sorry to hear that. There are days we feel sad; it’s okay to feel sad sometimes.” As parents, we don’t need to make our children feel better. I acknowledged and validated his feeling, all the while knowing this was the beginning of a new journey we would take together.

Read the next post by John Fort, Block Porn Interest: A Proactive Parenting Plan.



John W Fort
John Fort, MST, is the Director of Training for Be Broken, who equip families to move toward greater sexual health. He oversees online training for Be Broken on Pure Life Academy and is a regular speaker on parenting. John is the author of the books; Honest Talk: A New Perspective on Talking to Your Kids About Sex, Father-Son Accountability: Integrity Through Relationship, and the Forbidden Scrolls fictional trilogy for middle readers.

His background in biology, human health, and child development give him a unique voice to help parents assist their children to safely navigate our hyper-sexual world. Before working with Be Broken John was a high school science teacher for two years in São Paulo, Brazil and a middle school science and health teacher for seven years in Oregon.

John and his wife, Anna, live in Oregon and have two adult children.

Coronavirus Has Your Family Overwhelmed and Exhausted? Slow Down and Do These 3 Things to Find Calm in the Chaos

I don’t know about you, but the Protect Young Minds team is feeling it. The communal panic is palpable. Parents are scrambling. Children are disoriented. New COVID-19 schedules are flying around the internet making every parent feel like they now have to embrace...

COVID-19 School Closures: Our Best Tips for Digital Safety, Emotional Wellness and Family Time

Has your school announced a closure? Are you worried? Your first question might be, “What am I going to do with these kids?!” Already an estimated 22,000 schools have closed or are scheduled to close due to COVID-19 and yours may be next. Honestly, this is very...

4 Ways to Help Kids Deal with Discomfort: Life Skills that Build Emotional Resilience

I recently surveyed a group of parents to discover the reasons they avoid discussions about pornography with children.  One of the top responses was, “I’m afraid I’ll make my child uncomfortable.” This surprised me at first! But as I reflected on my own parenting, I...

6 Things Parents of Resilient Kids Do Well (and You Can Too!)

If your child begged to go out to play on a cold, rainy day, what would you be sure they were wearing? How about a warm sweater, woolly socks, a sturdy raincoat, tall rubber boots, and big umbrella? Those items are protective factors that will keep you child cozy and...

Screen Time and Mental Health: Simple Life Hacks for Raising Resilient Kids

Technology! It’s changed our lives, hasn’t it? Smartphones, social media, apps and more - they have so many amazing benefits. That’s why practically everyone uses them! At the same time, too much of a good thing can turn into a harmful thing. Many parents are...

#1 Amazon Best Seller

A read-aloud book that’s comfortable for parents and empowering for kids.

Learn More →

Get the Book

#1 Amazon Best Seller

A read-aloud book that’s comfortable for parents and empowering for kids

Grab your FREE Guide!

Learn Fun Activities to Build Emotional Resilience in Kids!

Your FREE Guide Is On The Way!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This