During the first two weeks of class, this particular father was quiet, and generally speaking not too happy to be there, which is typical behavior and we expected. However, during the 3rd week, we get the fathers to talk about the influence their fathers had on them, whether it is good or bad, and how they might be influencing their children in the same manner. This is a difficult exercise for most and emotions tend to run high. It is also the week that most participants have “their breakthrough;” that moment when they realize that the FOCUS class can really help and benefit them. In this father’s case, it was no exception. I could see how his attitude was changing throughout the exercise.
The following week, at the beginning of the class, he asked if he could say something before, we got started. I said yes and the cowboy started telling everyone how the prior FOCUS class had him thinking about how his father was a good influence on his life but unfortunately, he wasn’t practicing what he had learned from his father with his daughter. He stated that he had not talked with his father in over ten years because of his bad choices, so he called his father and asked if they could meet. He didn’t sleep for three nights worrying that his father might not show up to the meeting or might turn his back on him. But his father did show up and accepted his apology and not only that, his father embraced him and hugged him. He was trying to hold back the tears at this point because he couldn’t remember the last time his father and he had hugged.
At that point, the other men in the class stood up to show their support by either shaking his hand, putting their arms around his shoulder, and/or giving him a bear hug. Some even told similar stories and how that 3rd week of the FOCUS class had them analyze their own lives and relationships with their fathers.
By the end of the 10-week class, the cowboy was a changed man. He was on speaking terms with the mother-of-his-child, and her family, and was on the road to reunification with his daughter. He was very proud to let us know at his graduation that learning to use his influence instead of trying to control others had made his life easier and he was a much happier person now.