Your Heritage and Your LegacyKen Canfield, Ph.D.
April 30, 2007
Some of my recent study has gone toward helping fathers understand the hand-in-hand connection between their heritage and their legacy. Becoming a father is often a catalyst for a man to process his past and begin planning for the future-his and his children's.
With that in mind, I have come up with an exercise for fathers consisting of two sets of six questions. These will challenge you to ponder the impact of past experiences (your childhood and adult life leading up to when you became a father) and prompt you to plan for the future (making sure your dreams for your children become a reality).
The first six questions focus on your heritage:
- In reflecting on your relationship to your father or father figure, how would you describe his support of you?
- Did he regularly show you affection?
- Was he present and accessible to you growing up?
- Did he struggle with substance abuse or was he unfaithful to your mother?
- Did he abuse you or another family member?
- Would you say he was a good example?
The second set focuses on your legacy:
- What values and skills do you want to pass on to your child?
- What are your child's greatest challenges?
- What are his greatest strengths and gifts?
- How can you strengthen your relationship with him in the coming year?
- What physical and emotional resources will be required for your son or daughter to face the future with confidence?
- Whom can you count on for support and counsel as you father your child?
- Ask another dad you know if he has a fathering plan. Be ready to share yours with him.
- Talk with your wife about her family/fathering heritage. Ask her to answer the questions above.