The Psychology Behind Strained Father Son Relationships
Dads, you have one of the most influential roles in your son's life. Here are 7 things your son needs in the father son relationship. According to experts, the father-son relationship has the greatest influence on the ability of sons to tackle and survive the challenges of adult life. Over the years of working with men in therapy, I discovered that the issues that so often come up could often be traced back to father son relationships.
Many men are love-starved for their fathers and fathers for their sons and deny it. What is possible between a father and son? What can men do with the array of untapped emotions that shield them from knowing themselves? The unexpressed hurt and anger often transfer onto our love relationships, parenting, challenges at work, and problems with authority. If we decide to tackle this wounded relationship in therapy, we will invariably encounter an array of painful childhood memories.
We will experience waves of disappointment, rage, and grief at the loss of what we never had with our fathers.
By bravely revealing and working through this boiling cauldron of emotion we may come to a meaningful resolution. Perhaps a facilitated conversation in therapy would provide an opportunity to deal with the unfinished business, leftover resentment from our childhood. In cases of neglect, physical or emotional abuse, could a father acknowledge his wrong doing without excusing his behavior?
At that point there would seem to be no hope for repair. Their attempts for reconciliation may or may not reach their father, but the real psychological work entails making a concerted effort to sort out this jumbled knot of confused, disturbing experiences and memories within themselves.
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Personally, I have twice attempted to untie this knotfirst with my father and much later with my own son. These were largely unpleasant memories of abuse at the hands of my father, which he called discipline. I wanted to try to deal with this upsurge of memories and intense resentment that was coming from deep within me. This created a stalemate between us, and every time I saw him I was tense and would entertain vengeful fantasies. As part of my own therapy, I was able to vent intense feelings of righteous anger, victimization, and outrage.
This ongoing venting of rage and hurt eventually opened up a totally unexpected memory. I came to realize that there had been a time when I was really young where I actually had wanted something from my father. It was a shock to have this memory.
I also came to realize that this did not change anything with him, but it meant a lot to me to uncover this wanting feeling for him. I could never share my feelings or show any emotions -- my father called emotions a sign of weakness.
I never learned how to stand up for myself, so I mastered the art of running away from every conflict or altercation.
Father Son Relationships
My mother tried to understand me and she would always teach me right from wrong, but I had no foundation of family values or morals in my life. As a matter of fact, the only foundations that were being set were ones of pain, distrust, and rejection. He would often tell me that I would never be successful in life.
I was heart-broken and had no one to turn to. It seemed he was always fighting with me, but never for me. The pressure and all the anxiety that had built up inside of me was like a volcano waiting to erupt. I felt helpless, alone, and unworthy. At the age of seventeen, I realized that the father-son relationship wouldn't change, so I ran away from home and moved in with my sister, her husband, and their three boys.
When I first moved in I was very insecure about myself and lacked any confidence. I had to sign an agreement that I would keep good grades and that I would work to earn my keep. I really started to enjoy life. I started to see what a real family was all about. It was about love, communication, and responsibility.
I respected my sister and brother-in-law for showing me compassion, love, and forgiveness and began to admire the way my sister and brother-in-law treated one another. I soon became more self confident, responsible, motivated and worked extremely hard to earn my keep and get good grades in school.
Because of their impact in my life, I can honestly say that I am a much better man today. They provided me with the foundation I had always wanted from my parents. They gave me a sense of direction and for the first time in my life, I understood what love and family truly meant.
I guess I wanted to prove to them that I was somebody. I actually thought that our relationship could be restored.
Father Son Relationships
But in a few short months, all the fighting and arguing just picked up right where we had left off. I felt like a prisoner of war and that I could not escape.
I realized then that a relationship with my father would never be established. I truly felt that I was a failure as a son. Graduation was rapidly coming and I had no future plans.
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I never really thought about a career or where I was going to live and my parents could not afford college. Upon graduating boot camp, I was finally on my own. I was free to do what ever I wanted. I began dating and having sex. My life was out of control. After several months, she became pregnant and because I wanted to do the right thing, I asked her to marry me.
I was determined to make our marriage work. When our son was born, I was a very proud father and did not hesitate handing out the cigars!
I made a pact with myself that I would set the example and be there for my son. I would be the one to help establish a family heritage of love, honor, and values. About one year later, I faced the unexpected death of my father, who died of cancer.
I remember when I walked up to the casket and touched his hands. They were cold and his skin color was pale white. I did not know how to react or express my feelings. My emotions overwhelmed me and I cried out. I realized right then and there that my father was not coming back and we would never have the father-son relationship I desired.6 Types of Unhealthy Mother Son Relationships
I was never going to hear my father tell me that he loved me and I could not tell him that I loved him. The foundation and heritage my father left me with was one of pain and brokenness. Soon, the military moved me overseas while my family had to stay at home. The separation was hard on my son and wife.