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Dr. Gerald Brown
Mar 08, 2018

Reflecting on our Needs as Fathers

There is a big difference with respect to wants and needs in our daily lives.  Needs are necessary to survive (food, air, water, shelter, freedom, fun, power, and of course LOVE).  Wants are things we believe we need but are not necessarily imperative to our daily survival (jewelry, Xbox, designer shoes, etc.).  Below I review Glasser’s basic needs in detail and reframe them from a fatherhood perspective:

1. Survival - This need is a physiological need, which includes the need for food, shelter, and safety. Because we have genetic instructions to survive, not only as individuals but as a species, this includes the need to reproduce. (This need is self-explanatory but we as fathers in many cases meet this need on a regular basis for our children and believe this is sufficient for our children to grow and become purposeful adults doing meaningful things)

2. Love & Belonging - This need and the following three needs are psychological needs. The need to love and belong includes the need for relationships, social connections, to give and receive affection and to feel part of a group. (Many fathers believe they are satisfying this need through hard work and meeting the survival need as stated above [making sure the refrigerator is stocked, however, this false belief creates emotionally starved kids that are desperately wanting their father’s time and approval]

3. Power -To be powerful is to achieve, to be competent, to be skilled, to be recognized for our achievements and skill, to be listened to and have a sense of self worth. (many of us as fathers instinctively put more energy into this need [almost a biological onus] and then many times are reminded when our kids grow up that titles, accomplishments, wealth, societal positions did not mean as much as  more time and attention to their kids would have)

4. Freedom - The need to be free is the need for independence, autonomy, to have choices and to be able to take control of the direction of one's life. (Many of us as fathers understand that we have to sacrifice many of our freedoms pre-children in order to be a stable and positive force for our children in daily life, however, there are those that put personal freedom above their children’s needs which many times creates fatherless homes and part-time dads)

5. Fun - The need for fun is the need to find pleasure, to play and to laugh. Should you doubt that this is as important as any of the others, imagine a life without hope of any enjoyment. Glasser connects the need for fun to learning. All of the higher animals (dogs, dolphins, etc.) play. As they play, they learn important life skills. Human beings are no different. It is true that "play is a child's work” but dads can escape into their child’s play world too. (Playing is a critical piece to building trust and adds to the quality time kids need from their fathers.  This also helps kids not take dad too seriously as they witness dad playing along and laughing at himself.)

As fathers we can get caught up in the rat race of jockeying for higher societal position, higher pay, elevated prestige or title, and ensuring that our kids are fed and have clothes, school supplies, and 21st century toys.  It is easier to meet these needs as a father than to build trust, love, and integrate spontaneous fun with our kids. 

This perspective can be summed up in a Buddhist affirmation:

Three things you cannot recover in life:

1. The word after it’s said

2. The moment after it’s missed

3. The time after it’s gone.  

With this wisdom in mind begin planning today what you are going to say to your child that you want to say and need to say.  Begin reflecting on what moments you do not want to miss, and how the time you spend with your kids is not empty and meaningless.


Always remember to tell your child the following each day:

  1. Believe in yourself
  2. Love yourself
  3. You were born for special reasons
  4. Look for ways to help others today
  5. Your primary purpose is to discover what your unique talents are (that no one else in the world has)


Doc Brown

If you would like to learn more about me or my practice Inner Compass Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting, PLLC and have questions feel free to visit my website as well as read my Inner Compass Blog.  My new book Abandoned to PhD: Integrating meaning and resilience in everyday life has been recently published and if you would like to review and purchase please visit

Dr. Gerald Brown (Doc Brown) is owner of Inner Compass Counseling, Coaching, and Consulting PLLC in Cornelius, NC and Statesville, NC.  He is passionate about fatherhood issues, immigrant concerns, and specializes in trauma work.  Doc Brown has presented at various conferences and has a multitude of experience training organizations and corporations in diversity and multicultural resilience.  He believes in helping individuals, couples, and families find meaning and integrate that meaning with various resiliencies in order to live purposefully and vibrantly.  He is married with two daughters ages 15 and 6. 
















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