“I am just so angry.” With his voice shaking, he said what other men in the circle were thinking and feeling. “When I get home and approach my son, he pushes me away. I can’t stand it anymore. He just wants his mother, and he pushes me away from her too. The other day I told my wife I am ready to sign my parental rights away.”
Alex loves his son, but it’s the autism this man hates and the way it makes connecting seem impossible. The occasion for this fathers (and male therapists) group meeting on April 15 was the opening of the Autism Resource Center by the Ontario Arc in Canandaigua, New York where I was their guest speaker.
Once the anger was outed, the whole group of men seemed to open up. Inside the shell of anger, the men found fear, sadness, guilt, and shame. Their honesty with each other opened the door to possibilities for connecting with their children. The man who started the discussion didn’t come to disown his son-- he came to find out what he could do.
Another man talked about how getting on the floor with his son and just tickling opened the door to the possibilities of playing together. Others shared what they could do with their children and how to follow their child’s lead, and those still at a loss got ideas and inspiration. They planned to meet again.
After my presentation the next day, Jen approached me to say that her husband, Alex, came home determined to find ways of connecting with their son. Maybe now she could get some breaks. She was so grateful there was now a fathers group in their town.