How Would You Rate Your Father?

Why read yet another well researched study, grinding out the insignificant details of who, what, when, where and why we have yet another social problem? All problems in our society really only come from ONE problem.

The trouble in our past, present and future can be explained in one simple sentence….

The Secret of becoming a real dadFailed fathers create challenging and troubled children!

What’s that? You don’t believe it? You think it’s much more complicated than that? Please allow me to prove that it’s not complicated at all.

Let me take you on a brief history tour of ‘failing fathers’ so you can see what kind of children they’ve produced.

Let’s start with Saddam Hussein…

When Saddam Hussein’s father Hussein al-Majid fled the family, it was up to Saddam’s mother Subha to raise him. When she could not, little Saddam was given over to his uncle Khairallah Tulfah, an army officer and fervent Arab nationalist.

A deep bond between Saddam and his uncle Khairallah developed. Khairalla was an argumentative and bad tempered individual but he inspired great respect and hero worship in young Saddam.

When Saddam was still a boy, Khairalla was expelled from the army and sent to prison for five years because of his public sympathy for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi belief system.

Saddam missed him greatly. With Khairalla away at prison, young Saddam was sent back to his mother who had now remarried a poor and reportedly lazy peasant named Hassan al-Ibrahim.

By the time Saddam rejoined the family, he found several new half brothers and sisters waiting for him. Saddam’s step father found him to be an inconvenience.

“Saddam was badly neglected except when Hassan would take delight in beating him with any blunt device that was handy.” (1)

And what kind of adult did Saddam grow up to be? I don’t think I even need to answer that.

Let’s move on to Adolph Hitler…

“Adolph Hitler’s father Alois was more than strict. His oldest son Alois Jr ran away from home because he could not endure the violent beatings at his father’s hands, so Alois Hitler turned his attentions on Adolph, giving him sound thrashings every day.” (2)

What about Joseph Stalin?

Joseph Stalin’s mother was described as strict, but what created the power of a dictator was his father Vissarion. Frequently drunk, Vissarion inflicted brutal blows on young Joseph.

“He lived years watching his father drink up his small wages as his mother slaved over a sewing machine in factory labor. Vissarion’s years of cruel treatment developed a vindictive attitude in Joseph Stalin that gave birth to a seething revenge against anyone in authority.” (3)

And Karl Marx?

Karl Marx, the creator of communism, was born to Jewish parents and watched as his father Heinrich denied his Jewish heritage and converted to Christianity solely as a business decision.

“Even as Heinrich Marx denied the tenets of his heritage, he embraced humanist beliefs that men were by nature good and all equally rational, and the cause of human misery was simply ignorance.” (4)

No matter where you look, when you find suffering, loss, pain and sorrow, it is created by a leader who was raised by a failing father (or lack thereof).

Not convinced with world dictators? Let’s move closer to home.

How many prisons are operating today? According to the Bureau of Justice there are now “1,664 prisons holding 1,214,969 prisoners!” (5) And that’s just the men!

These prisons were built by tax paying Americans so we can enjoy the benefits of our law abiding way of life. To protect this, we take over a million men and lock them away from the rest of us because of the danger that they represent.

And how many of those 1,214,969 men come from troubled fathers?

About 85% of them (6).

Prisons exist because of troubled fathers. Whether it’s minimum, medium or maximum security prisons, troubled fathers put those men there. Their fathers put them in a condition and in a position where they are dangerous to the rest of us.

Do you need to know about the father of Al Capone, John Dillinger, Jeffrey Dahmer or any other man on the very long list of cruel and morally disfigured men? I didn’t think so. The stories are basically the same…failing fathers.

I said it before and I will say it again, there is no problem in our lives except a father problem!

BUT…if there are failing fathers, then there are also FAITHFUL fathers….

You may not know much about history’s great fathers so I’ll fill you in…

The story you always heard about honest George Washington and the cherry tree incident cannot be confirmed through George Washington’s family history, but what you didn’t know is that our nation’s first president’s father was very fond of his children according to George Washington’s memory of him.

His father, Augustine Washington, instilled a work ethic and integrity into little George as he built farms and a mining business.

Mary Washington, George’s mother, cared deeply for her children, writing to George “I am, my dear George, your loving and affectionate mother.” He in turn referred to her as “my revered Mother, by whose maternal hand I was led from childhood.”

“Even though Augustine Washington did not live to see George’s twelfth birthday, he fully imprinted his values on George in his most formative years. It was George’s mother Mary who continued to reinforce his father’s lofty values, the values that would create one of the greatest American presidents.” (7)

What about Abraham Lincoln?

You know about his unwillingness to quit despite multiple defeats, but you didn’t know that his work ethic came from his father Tom Lincoln, the cutting edge farmer who turned wild acres into farm land.

Tom showed his pride in his son’s education, even though he could not teach Abe knowledge from books. He did instill the determination to never quit under any circumstances as he encouraged Abe to pursue the talents of his bright mind.

“Abe’s father knew he was destined for greater things. When young Abe’s parents Tom and Nancy moved the family to Indiana wild country to begin a new farm, they read Abe Bible tales and taught him the Calvinist Christian view of the world.” (8)

Martin Luther King Jr….

Martin Luther King Jr. made history as the leader of America’s desegregation, but what you didn’t know is that Martin’s father, Martin Luther King Sr. was described by Martin Jr. this way: “My strong determination for justice comes from the very strong and dynamic personality of my father.”

Martin Jr. had one particular childhood memory etched into his mind. His father took him to Atlanta’s segregated downtown to buy shoes. When the clerk insisted that father and son move to the back of the store to be waited on, Martin Jr. watched his father speak firmly to the clerk saying “We’ll either buy shoes sitting here, or we won’t buy shoes at all.”

“Martin Sr. took young Martin’s hand and confidently walked out of the store.” (9)

Even if you’re not interested in football, you know Vince Lombardi. You can’t read a book on success where Lombardi is not quoted. You know about Vince Lombardi, but you don’t know about Harry, the father who made the man. Harry Lombardi showed a gruff exterior and talked tough about pain saying “No one’s ever hurt. Hurt is in your mind.”

Harry sometimes lectured Vince on his triangle of success: sense of duty, respect for authority and strong mental discipline.

“Harry Lombardi regaled his children with philosophies about freedom and responsibility. Vince’s father expected him to worship every day when he was growing up so it had become as much a matter of discipline and routine as devotion.” (10)

So there you have it…Saddam Hussein, Joseph Stalin, Karl Marx, Adolph Hitler…children of failing fathers.

George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Vince Lombardi…children of FAITHFUL fathers.

Any questions?

Do you have marriage trouble, employee trouble or boss trouble? Do you have an endless stream of life’s troubles that won’t leave you feeling safe or secure? It’s simply, completely and forever a father problem.

It’s a simple fact of life…the more ANGER or FEAR you had in the first 10 years of your childhood, the more trouble you ARE or HAVE today.

Did you end up with a failing father? Want to know how you can be certain?

You can be sure by giving your father the Real Dad Score using the Real Dad definition.

What is the Real Dad definition? It’s the definition that sets the standard for what a true father must be in order to turn out positive, productive, contributing adults which create successful future generations.

Here’s the definition of a Real Dad…

A Real Dad is consistently tough but fair. He takes a genuine interest in the challenges, opportunities and joys of each of his unique children.

That’s it. Imagine what the world would be like if every father could fulfill that single, simple definition. What kind of nation would we have?

Let’s move on to finding your Real Dad score…

Giving your father a Real Dad score is very easy. First, scan your memories of the first ten years of your life. These were the first ten years when your brain neurons were being formed. These are the years that really mattered.

In those ten years, score your father against the definition. On a 100% down to 0% scale, your dad was consistently tough but fair; he took a genuine interest in your challenges, opportunities and joys and he treated you like a unique person.

Now scan your first ten years of memories, some scenes with your father may jump out, but beyond those, you have this feeling, this sense about your father in that childhood time that allows you to emotionally, yet accurately give him a rating against this very simple standard of what a Real Dad is.

If your father scored in the 90%’s, you are a very successful person and everything you touch turns into something good. It doesn’t mean your life is trouble free, but it does mean that you get through troubles and come out on the other side in a better condition than when you went in.

Most of all, you learn from your mistakes and don’t make them a way of life.

If your father scored in the 80’s, you are leading a content life where struggles are few and far between, certainly not a pattern. You’re still successful.

If your father scored in the 70’s you may have some issues, but they are not anything you can’t work around. Some anger, some fear but you can do what you need to deal with it.

A Real Dad score in the 60’s range shows the beginning of life troubles. Failing fathers produce patterns of difficulty in family, friends, self image, health, money, time and peace of mind that are troubling and persistent throughout the lives of their children.

Look around you. You have uncles, grandfathers and dads. Look at their children. You know their children! Know any challenging children in your family tree? Look at their fathers.

You’ve heard the slogan, but now you can see the truth in it: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” That’s the profound truth. The father makes the quality of apple, (son/daughter), and with few exceptions, apples stay where they fall.

Real Dad scores in the 50’s and below are much more intense. As your Real Dad score drops below the 50’s, trouble has been a pattern of your life. This trouble can come out in a multitude of ways, but the worst sides of your father are coming out in you through your career, your marriage, your social life and everything!

Do you have a raging temper when situations become frustrating? Just look to your dad. Do you have the ability to win friends and influence people? Thank your dad.

Real Dad is a phrase that describes the adult male who was present in your first ten years of life. The most successful people have their biological father as the person who fulfills the Real Dad definition, but in life, that is not always possible.

It is so very important for you to know that the life your father gave you is not your fault. You were “programmed” at a time when you did not have all the facts. You were not able to logically sort out your own opinions. You took on your father’s values without even knowing it.

If you have troubles today, it’s NOT your fault, but it IS your responsibility to take control of them.

There are ways for you to change course on those values that bring trouble to yourself and others.

I’ve written a book that will show you how to bring an end to your troubles by building your self-esteem and eliminating your negative feelings.

It is based on everything I’ve learned over the past 30 years in an effort to make up for what I was ‘missing’…because I was NOT raised by a Real Dad.

Should you blame your father with anger and resent that he saddled you with these problems? How could you?

Your father did everything based on what he knew at the time. What else could he do? Become a wonderful father suddenly?

After all, it was your grandfather’s values that your father was living off of. This is the reason generations of successful families produce generations of successful adults as seen in the case of the Rockefeller and the DuPont’s. It’s also the reason there are “crime families”.

So what can you do to become a Real Dad if you’re not gifted by the father you were given?

First you must really and truly want to do it. Do you have a child or children you feel responsible for? Do you feel something deep inside that makes you about what kind of adults they will become?

If you did not have a Real Dad yourself, you must find out whether or not there a desire inside you to change the course of history for your children.

If you have this desire, then you need a single thing to focus on. You must focus on one idea that will act as your faithful compass. This compass is one message that puts everything you need in one place, with one goal: Become a Real Dad.

The following statement is what you must follow in every situation with your children. Without this compass, you’ll drift and forget.

Here is your compass…

I am a Real Dad. I am consistently tough but fair. I take a genuine interest in the challenges, opportunities and joys of each of my unique children.

The Secret To Becoming a Real Dad

Repeat this to yourself. Repeat it again. Say it over and over while you’re driving in the car alone.

Say it under your breath when your children are testing you in their most difficult moments.

At the end of this article is the compass set in type that you can hang on the wall or carry it in your wallet. If you are serious about becoming a Real Dad, put one in your bedroom, your living room, your bathroom and your kitchen.

You children will even help you remember. They will quote the Real Dad definition and view you as a faithful father.

During those times when your children challenge you and test your patience, you must resist the urge to give in to your negative feelings. Your children need you to succeed. No matter where they are in those critical ten years, they will be cheering you on to be a Faithful Father…a Real Dad.

Now, some important definitions:

CONSISTENT: This means you are not controlled by your moods. You don’t ignore a discipline problem on Tuesday, and then pounce on your children for the same act on Wednesday.

TOUGH: This means you learn how to discipline your children from people wiser than you. Your toughness is appropriate, but never overboard. You set limits for your kids and those limits are strong, firm and based on positive values. When you are tough, you always remain emotionally in control.

FAIR – You are not a pushover and you are not weak. You are fair. You know how to forgive your children and teach them through every day situations. You teach but also listen to their ideas, giving them the benefit of the doubt when you must

GENUINE INTEREST – If most fathers were really honest, they would admit their interests are often for themselves and not their children. Showing a genuine interest in your children on a consistent basis requires you to stay focused on a big cause…you are producing America’s future adults and you are doing it now, tomorrow afternoon, at the ice cream stand and the community pool. Let them know they are very important to you.

CHALLENGES – Children must learn through failure. When they fail, you, their father, must give them the opportunity to discover that ALL growth takes place through failures, not successes. Show them how to get up and get through it.

OPPORTUNITIES – Your children’s opportunities are tiny compared to yours, but you must notice when a new event brings them a chance to learn- a vacation invitation with a friends’ family, a new club to join, a lemonade stand. Encourage their opportunities to learn about this world. Be interested and ask questions to get them thinking.

JOYS – When things go right, dad and his kids must celebrate. You must notice and get just as happy as they are. Joy is what happens between a father and his children when failures have done their work and success arrives in small and large doses.

UNIQUE – Each of your children is not the same. Notice all the ways they show their uniqueness. Let them know you notice in a multitude of ways and they will be fiercely loyal to you.


If you want to know more about how your values pass from generation to generation, read the article “Your Invisible Lifestyle: Is it helping or hurting your marriage?” available from my Marriage Success Secrets website.

Okay, you’ve come this far, now here’s the update to my article above. Let me further clarify the concept of a Real Dad to eliminate any confusion…

The REAL Role of a Mother and Father

An insightful comment came to me from one of my readers about the article, “The Secret of Becoming a Real Dad”. This person put ideas into words that I’ve heard expressed many times as people react to my Real Dad premise about what a man must do to create happy and highly productive children.

One of the comments I received said that two points are valid…

1) “Though it is true our father and mother impact us a great deal as children, we cannot blame our parents for our current failures…”

(I agree!) I’ll explain more in a moment…

2) “We have to take responsibility for the adult choices we make.”

(I totally agree with this also.)

I openly admit that I believed the same thing for many years. I would make comments to others when the subject came up. “Well, you know you can’t blame your parents for all your troubles. You’ve got to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and make something of your life.”

General statements sound good and seem like common sense but they are vague. We still don’t have a solution. The Real Dad message is aimed at creating a solution.

What I was trying to do with the Real Dad article is give fathers a target or goal that they can strive to achieve. That target is the simple definition of a Real Dad.

I hope you didn’t get the wrong idea about the Real Dad article simply placing 100% of the blame on fathers….that was not my main objective.

Blaming someone for your pain is something that people do to gain a sense of relief when they know they’re wrong but can’t seem to change what they do.

The Real Dad message says that what your father did or didn’t do doesn’t matter any more. It’s history. There’s nothing you can do to change your past.

So should your father be blamed for dumping his bad values on you? What good would it do?

Since your father can’t repair the damage he did, placing blame on him is only a temporarily emotional relief that will quickly wear off. And where does that leave you?

That’s right. Back to square 1 – stuck with your emotional pain once again.

Bottom line? Don’t blame your dad for what he did back in your childhood. He did what he did based on what he knew at the time. (Actually, what he learned from HIS father.)

The Roles of a Mother and Father

The mother creates a child’s emotional make-up, shows concern for feelings and is tuned into emotion. Compassion, wisdom and education are her first concerns.

The father has a very different role in the first ten years of a child’s life. He will work on the outside of the child. He will work on behavior – his children’s actions.

Mothers = focus on inside emotions and create outside social skills.

Fathers = focus on outside behavior and create inside emotional security.

The definition of a Real Dad accurately portrays exactly how he must raise a confident and successful child….

A Real Dad will be consistently tough but fair. He will take a genuine interest in the challenges, opportunities and joys of that child, while treating this particular child as a unique individual.

Our society has put all the weight on mothers to be the emotional foundation for children and if the kids turn out troubled, we tend to look at the mother with our first suspicion.

But fathers? Our world thinks of them as what they were before the 1960’s, minus any respect they might have won. Fathers are just the bread winners. They might be called providers, but with half of all women working, not even that seems to give them much respect.

This is the reason why fathers need to hear these two messages…

1) You are desperately needed in your child’s life because it is you and you alone who will determine how emotionally secure that son or daughter is as an adult.

2) You must focus on the one single definition that will keep you going in the right direction as you raise your child, the future of our society.

The more anger or fear a child has in the first ten years of his or her life, the more trouble they are or have today. Those first 10 years determine if the child will be an asset to our society or if they will become a liability.

(Note: I will be referring to the first ten years of a child’s life as the most important throughout this article because that’s when the child’s brain is first forming. The child absorbs everything around him/her and this shapes his/her way of life as an adult.)

If a son has a strong temperament at birth, a troubled father who is abusive will cause him to live with angry emotions for the rest of his life. As you might expect, that angry son becomes an angry man who causes trouble for all of us who surround him.

Then there are the fearful children. These are the softer natured children who deal with their fears by running away. If a son has a softer nature at birth, a trouble father who is abusive will cause him to live with fear for the rest of his life.

Again, you can expect that this fearful son will cause trouble, not for others, but for himself as he keeps running from what he perceives to be dangerous situations…a job with more responsibility, a larger new home, a new circle of friends, etc.

How we can bring this message of positive parenting to the people who need to hear it…

Every day I work with parents who have troubled marriages. They come to me because they are in danger of getting a divorce. They are angry and blaming each other and they have no ability to fix what is wrong.

I get involved with couple after couple and hear the story of their troubled fathers in every case. Remember how troubled fathers = troubled children?

There is only one kind of person who is an exception to this rule. I call them the “buckers”.

These are the people who grow up with a troubled father and decide with great determination that they will go the absolute opposite way and work hard toward creating a better life. Most buckers do succeed, though with some side effects of quirky behavior.

I call them “Buckers” because they are “bucking” their father’s value system. They create a life of their own with new and improved POSITIVE values. (This goes for women also.)

Unfortunately, most sons of troubled fathers are not “Buckers”. The purpose of my Real Dad article is to reach men and simply let them know that:…

1) You are desperately needed in your child’s life because it is you and you alone who will determine how emotionally secure your son or daughter is as an adult. Your wife is not wired to do it.

2) Focus on the Real Dad Definition. It will keep you going in the right direction as you complete this important job of raising a confident and successful child who will contribute to our nations’ future.

So please, spread the word to the men you know about what a Real Dad is and why it is important to become one. I do not want to put emphasis on BLAMING fathers, but instead on what we can do to stop the vicious cycle of troubled fathers creating troubled children.


(1) Saddam, King Of Terror -Con Coughlin -Thorndike Press

(2) Hitler, The Pictorial Documentary of His Life -John Toland -Doubleday & Company

(3) Stalin As Revolutionary -A study in history and personality- Robert Tucker -W.W. Norton & Company

(4) Karl Mark, His Life and Thought -David McLellan -Harper & Row

(5) Bureau of Justice


(7) All Cloudless Glory, The Life of George Washington, from Youth to Yorktown -Harrison Clark -Regnery Publishing

(8) Abraham Lincoln – Thomas Keneally -Thorndike Press

(9) The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. -Warner Books

(10) When Pride Still Mattered -A Life of Vince Lombardi -David Maraniss -Thorndike Press


  • yelda

    Reply Reply June 14, 2008

    I could not have said this any better than this, finally someone who is aware of the Real Father issues and the values of the offspring, it is always a general notion or statement that the mother is the sole person who has influence and impacts in their children’s lives either good or bad. However, I have observed all of my life how a father partakes in children’s lives. I hate to say it, but when I did see a child with trouble, 95% of the time there was a dad issue or the child being dadless. If only everyone would realize that raising a child needs both supplements and both should love and repect one another (providing that they are togther or if not and are divorced or separated should be civil) so that they know how to treat the next person in their lives. Too many times, there are couples who have or are together being in a long term abusive relationship, the child will always be negative and not know how to be respectable towards others it is all they know. As you mentioned, the first 10 years of life is critical and tender. I must say, you are 100% right. The more negative they see even after 10 years, the worst is yet absorbed and at this stage of their lives, they act out. and feel that they are not doing wrong.

  • Dawn

    Reply Reply June 19, 2008

    Very interesting article. I read through the Invisible Lifestyles, and already am aware that I am a ‘bucker’.

    However, I am also among those couples who are facing a possible divorce. I’d love to share this article with my husband, but since our son (my biological, his step) is almost 12, though my husband has been his step-father for the past 10 years, he may feel that there isn’t much he can do now, since the formative first 10 years are now past!

    I wish to stop the divorce that my husband currently seeks. But, I also don’t want him to feel as though I am blaming HIM for everything, or trying to ‘guilt trip him’ into remaining in the marriage. (I am hoping and praying, that he will see that if we fall towards each other, and look for solutions to our challenges, that it will be a ‘win-win situation’ for the entire family!)

  • Larry Bilotta

    Reply Reply June 26, 2008

    Yelda -your awareness about fathers comes out of your own personal experience watching what happens to children when there is an abusive father or an abusive man of any significance in a child’s first ten years. Those are the years that the brain is forming and it forms around the behavior of the most significant adults who raise that child. We’ve had millions of divorces since the 80’s and millions of children, now adults are trying to find happiness with troubling instructions in their brain about what’s normal. You said a good phrase when you said the words “so they know how to treat the next person in their lives”. The way they will treat the next person is sitting in their brain from those first ten years. We like to think we are our own person and we are separate and independent from our parents ways. That’s so much of a fantasy. We carry those instructions and if they say divorce is how you handle marriage problems, then that’s how you’ll solve your marriage problem…unless you are what I call a “Bucker”. Read more about that in my free report Your Invisible Lifestyle.

  • Larry Bilotta

    Reply Reply June 26, 2008

    Dawn-like many people who read a good idea and want to share it, I hope your your husband will be open minded about this childhood program issue. You are facing a potential divorce from a man who might have seen his parents solve their marriage with divorce and he just might believe that’s a real solution. It’s not logical. It’s programming. Your husband is leaving because he is not looking at himself. Instead, he’s looking at you not making him happy. He’s one of millions who are not looking at themselves. My wife Marsha forced me to look at me and my childhood programs. That’s how I discovered what I now call the Invisible Lifestyle. Maybe the two of you can get into this discussion with the Invisible Lifestyle report getting it started. I hope so.

  • Leslie

    Reply Reply April 25, 2009

    I’ve found it helpful to use the word “attribute”, rather than “blame”–for me it connotes a sense of understanding how a circumstance/behavior/belief came to be, rather than attempting to displace responsibility onto another party. For me, pointing to attribution, rather than blame, keeps the focus on the process, rather than the parties–the “who”, although significant, is less important than the “why” & the “how”, imho.

  • Jacques de Beer

    Reply Reply September 23, 2009

    Interesting that the “Failing fathers” are all Non-American and the good ones American? Why not also refer to your previous president George Bush (seen as a complete failure – except by the Americans)? I am sure the Afghanistan People and the Iraqi People do not all see it your way. Nelson Mandela our first black President did not have a perfect father. It was to his benefit and might have helped him with the struggle against Apartheid (Hitler and Hussain attributes), but he showed great love and forgiveness after becoming president (good father attributes). Also interesting that all the comments on your article were left by woman. I think you are putting people into boxes.

  • jen gilbertson

    Reply Reply February 21, 2010

    My dad is the greatest dad ever…..nuf said!!

  • Drew Farron

    Reply Reply September 16, 2010

    You hit the nail right on the head. My dad was all of that and more. I am confident, happy and optimistic despite several set backs that would paralyze most people. When I talk about my dad in a group setting I am embarrassed because it seems like no one had a dad like mine.

    My wife’s dad died when she was 3 and her step-dad was none of these attributes. She has all the problems you discussed.

    This article is right on!

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