The Father Gives the Gift of Work to His Son

A single clear idea, well fed, moves like a contagious disease: “Physical work is wrong.” Many people besides [D.H. Lawrence] took up that idea, and in the next generation that split between fathers and sons deepened. A man takes up desk work in an office, becomes a father himself, but has no work to share with his son and cannot explain to the son what he’s doing. Lawrence’s father was able to take his son down in to the mines, just as my own father, who was a farmer, could take me out on the tractor, and show me around. I knew what he was doing all day and in all seasons of the year.

When the office work and the “information revolution” begin to dominate, the father-son bond disintegrates. If the father inhabits the house only for an hour or two in the evenings, then women’s values, marvelous as they are, will be the only values in the house. One could say that the father now loses is son five minutes after birth.

…the son does not actually see what his father does during the day and through all seasons of the year, a hole will appear in the son’s psyche, and the hole will fill with demons who tell him that his father’s work is evil and that the father is evil.

-Robert Bly, Iron John, p.20

I stole the quote from Carpe Cakem….I struggle incessantly with the feeling that my work (in an office) alienates me from my son.   This is the first time I’ve seen it written out.

One thought on “The Father Gives the Gift of Work to His Son

  1. Tim, I bear the same burden as you, only my work is as a seaman. It’s physical work, but there’s no way for me to take my son to my ship. This area has definitely been one in which I have no choice but to lay it down at the feet of Christ and beg with him that my son will someday appreciate my vocation.

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