A Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts: On Fathers 5


The approach of Fathers’ Day, heralded by ads for colorful shirts, silk ties, barbecues, and heavy duty tools, makes me think about all the fathers I know and their importance to their children. My own fathers (I had two: one biological, and one the man my mother was married to), did not play an active role in my life after the age of eight, and I subsequently watched other children’s fathers from a wistful distance. Fathers seemed to me to be powerful players in my friends’ lives, and I always wondered: was I freer without a father to guide me, or was I like a ship without a captain? Now, having watched fathers all my life, I think both were true.

Two of my sons are fathers. They are very different men who approach fathering from their own unique perspectives, yet both seem to hold responsibility for the direction of their families’ lives, both define and maintain boundaries for their children’s behaviors, each demonstrating love in his own way. My partner’s two sons are fathers. One is more authoritarian than the other. Both are strong influencers of the their children, directing and guiding their children as they grow up. All four of these men are the kind of father I wish I’d had.

I’ve seen the other kind of father, too. The father who pursues his own pleasures and desires and ignores his family. The father who drinks or does drugs and places his children in dangerous situations. The father who taunts and verbally abuses his children. The one who, in his desperate need to control others, lashes out physically, hurting everyone who loves him. I’ve always thought that these are the kinds of fathers it is better to be without; who wants to be trapped on a ship with a captain like that?

But more often than not, the fathers I’ve observed provide stability, love, guidance, behavioral boundaries, and an example for their children of what it means to be a man in their time and culture.

What kind of father did you have, and how did he influence you? This week’s worth of journaling prompts are designed to help you consider this question and to dig deeper into your feelings about fatherhood in general.

Complete each of the following sentences, writing for at least ten minutes for each prompt (set a timer). If you find that your answers are short, repeat the prompt a minimum of five times. This repetition technique will help you to dig deeper into your thoughts and feelings about your father and his influence on your life.

  1. Fathers are supposed to …
  2. My father is/was the kind of man who …
  3. As I think about my childhood, what I remember most about my father is …
  4. At his best, my father was … At his worst, my father was …
  5. Because of my father, I …
  6. If it were not for my father I would have …
  7. Now, as an adult, my relationship with my father is …  I think this is because …
While writing about your father, what emotions and thoughts surfaced? Did you learn anything about yourself as a result? I invite you to share your thoughts with us.


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5 thoughts on “A Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts: On Fathers

  • patsy ann taylor

    Thank you for the great prompts. I had a wonderful dad. I miss him every day. The prompts will put me in touch with the life he provided for me and for our family. At his memorial service people spoke of his kindness. I was blessed to have such a man in my life. My children had a great dad too. He learned from my father. : )

  • Barbara Toboni

    Thanks again Amber for the great writing prompt. I still miss my father, gone now since 1982. From writing this I am reminded how lucky I was to have had him in my life, and that I have such good memories of him. I also noticed while writing this that my husband has many of the same qualities my father had, patience, a good sense of humor, and optimism, and he’s a teriffic father. I’m very fortunate.

    • Amber Lea Starfire

      Barbara – I’m glad the prompts helped bring forth good memories. Sometimes, when we think about our families, we tend to remember the difficult times. But family life contains warm memories, as well, and it balances us to write about them. I find it interesting that you noticed the same positive qualities in your husband as in your father. Those qualities may explain, in part, what attracted you to your husband in the first place. And yes, you are fortunate 🙂

      • zainab shahid

        hey amber
        thank-you very much for such a good writing prompt.
        it turned out very helpful in making me realize that I have got a great dad.
        he’s not only caring,loving and kind to me but also very possessive about me.
        he’s definitely my ideal..I would really want my children to have a dad with such amazing qualities like mine had.
        any-ways, have a good day everyone!