When John Finch was 11 years old, his dad committed suicide.
As a result, the fatherless boy, who grew up in government-assisted housing, would become a self-described social alcoholic, a traveling salesman with an unlimited account, and a “Johnny Good Time” life-of-the-party kind of guy, who was always ready to buy a round of drinks.
“I was trying to get affirmation from others because I didn’t get it from my dad,” Finch says as he looks back over the first 30 years of his life. “My mom was the sweetest angel in the world. If it wasn’t for her, no telling where I would be. But she couldn’t be a dad.”
About six years ago, a friend brought up the concept of a “father wound.”
“In that conversation, God planted a seed. I started to understand the issues I had and how it was a result of the suffering I experienced after my dad abandoned me. If my dad didn’t want to have anything to do with me, then I bet God was the same way. God began to show me more and more about my father; how he too grew up without a father. It was a generational thing I didn’t even know existed. I said, ‘This is going to stop here.’”
Finch sought the advice of a counselor who he says posed questions he would never have thought to ask on his own. “In one of those conversations, the counselor said: ‘How can you be so bitter, resentful, and angry with a man who didn’t know how to be a dad?’”
In that moment, Finch suddenly realized he could forgive the man who had “abandoned” him.
“That power and forgiveness that God showed me for my father radically changed my life as a man, husband and father. Walking out of the office, the sky was bluer, the grass was greener.”
As he began to share his story with others, Finch also came to understand that “father wounds” are an epidemic – and he began to feel that God was calling him to do something about it.
The result is a new apostolate, The Perfect Father Ministries, and a powerful 60 minute docu-drama, “The Father Effect,” which airs at 10 p.m. ET, Saturday, Dec. 3; 1 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Dec. 7; 5 a.m. ET, Friday, Dec. 9; and 5 p.m. ET, Saturday, Dec. 10 on EWTN. Find out more at www.TheFatherEffect.com.
The first half of the film explores the different challenges fatherless boys face; it also touches on the effect that growing up fatherless has on girls, although he intends to explore this even more deeply in his next project, “The Father Effect 2.”
Viewers of both sexes will benefit from Finch’s interviews with more than 80 people from all walks of life: experts, bestselling authors, a former USC champion, an exotic dancer, prison inmates, self-made millionaires, counselors, a former South African rugby player, and a rabbi – to name a few!
In the second half of the film, Finch also tackles solutions, which he hopes will be as helpful to others as they were to him. One interview that had a huge influence on Finch – at least from a spiritual perspective – was with a former NFL quarterback and All-American.
“Before the interview, I’d say this grand prayer with my children every night and walk out of the room patting myself on the back, thinking to myself ‘That was awesome, really good!’” Finch says with a laugh. But he was “hit hard” when the athlete described his own dad as a real prayer warrior who prayed for HIM before and after the games. The athlete said, “There’s nothing like a child hearing his father pray for him out loud by name in that manly fatherly voice.”
Finch said sometimes he can provide a practical solution to a problem, but more often than not, the problems deal with the children’s emotions about various situations that occur in their lives. “Once we start talking it through, the kids kind of understand and calm down. There’s a comfort that comes from hearing you pray for them. The next day. I’ll say, ‘How did the test go? How did the thing you’re struggling with go?’ They see I’m interested in what’s going on in their lives.”
Finch said that, to a certain extent, he even allows his children to see his own struggles when he prays with them. “It’s important to show my kids the real me. Not to pretend that everything is okay, but to be authentic and transparent to my kids. I’m not perfect, so they see they don’t have to be perfect. They see that life is not fair, but we do the best we can to stay focused on God and to put our faith and hope and trust in Him.”
As the testimonials on Finch’s websites show, this film has been truly life-changing for many fathers and for their wives. Please share this with everyone you know and tune in. Even if you feel you’re already a pretty good dad, this just may provide you with answers to questions you didn’t even know you had!