Growing Up Without a Father

I was just reading Chapter 10 of Buried Treasure and was wondering what God’s advice would be to the sons in single-family homes headed by mothers.

In my own case, I grew up in South Africa after both parents immigrated there. When my father died (I was 7) my mother refused to return to her home country as she felt that my father’s brothers were abusive. It seems my father was not kind to my mother, and it was a blessing for her that he died 8 years into their marriage. I have grown up without any male to guide me as a result of being isolated from my extended family.

My mother appealed to our local church minister for some male in the congregation to guide me, but he laughed her off.

Is there any book that you would advise reading?

Daniel M.

Dear Daniel,

It seems that you are quite the reader, and we certainly applaud your current choice of books. However, while there are books that are worth reading (such as 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson), we would encourage you to start making human connections as your priority.

It sounds like you were not present when your mother approached your local minister, and it seems that she felt rejected when she reached out. While that is a shame, it should not be a life-sculpting event. Now that you are grown, it is in your hands to search for men who can be friends, role models, and mentors to you.

You are at an advantage for recognizing this lack in your life. Some men find the leadership they seek in the military, others through a caring boss or pastor. Just as a hopeful sales representative needs not to give up when he receives two, or ten, or twenty rejections, you may have to make a few attempts before finding guidance.

Look for places where you can be a giver. Whether it is in a community organization or a church, or in business, get involved in areas where strong family men congregate. We know of the owner of a chain of restaurants in Texas who, along with his wife, provides valuable direction to young employees, giving them infinitely more than a paycheck. What skills do you have? Are you good at car repair, home maintenance, bookkeeping, or anything else? Volunteer your services to struggling families, perhaps through a good church or community service organization. This will generate unexpected relationships for you. As you contribute, you will have a chance to observe people up close and to get to know them as individuals, and they will get a chance to know you. As an adult, yours is not a case of looking for a “big brother” as wonderful as that might have been when you were a child. Instead, it is a case of forming relationships that will provide you with examples in living and counsel as a side benefit.

Daniel, none of us get to choose our childhoods. At a certain point, we need to accept that the past is out of our hands, but the present and the future are ours to mold. While we are big fans of reading, additionally we encourage you to jump into meeting real people in real time.

Best wishes,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

This Ask the Rabbi is in memory of Margit & Yosi Silverman who were killed in the pogrom of October 7th in Israel and holds prayers for the safe return of their daughter, Shiri, son-in-law Yarden, and grandsons, Ariel, aged 4, and Kfir aged 9 months who were abducted as hostages.

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Clash of Destiny

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