D. Charles Williams, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, AAMFT Approved Supervisor and. Executive Coach based in. connection between parent son healthyplace The changing relationship between father and son and putting the father-son relationship in. In this case, all we can do is congratulate you, because father-son relationships are probably one of the best things in a boys' (and men) lives.
As time goes by, though, your son gets older and your relationship changes. When your son begins to develop into a young man, both of you face challenges that mean working a little bit harder to maintain your bond.
The relationship you develop now will set the course for a lifetime bond between you and your son. James Longhurst, a licensed psychologist for Montcalm School, a residential treatment program for troubled and at-risk youth, says that in general, as boys become teens, they sometimes question or challenge all their previously held perceptions about their fathers.
Longhurst says that fathers need to realize that when their boy begins to become a young man, you as a father, need to be sure to keep things in balance.
Likewise, they are never as bad, or as stupid, as their teenage sons may say they are. Longhurst explains that it can be a key time for fathers to use crisis as opportunity, exploring their relationship with their son and working through the conflict to bring the relationship closer. Sean, a student who recently graduated from Montcalm School and is looking forward to his first summer job, says that when he came to the program, he and his father had a very tense relationship that was, in some ways, at the heart of his troubles.
Sean's parents were divorced and his father, a recovering alcoholic, was changing his lifestyle and becoming a different person. 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.
The Psychology Behind Strained 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.
Father Son Relationships
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. But in a few short months, all the fighting and arguing just picked up right where we had left off.
Father Son Relationships
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.
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. Here it was happening to me, not as extreme, but still a strained relationship, and this broke my heart that I was still so psychologically immature. I ended up on quite a roller coaster of a ride as a father. My son is now a grown man and we are currently sorting out our relationship. Now I am the father open to dealing with the issues with my own son.
I am willing to acknowledge my shortcomings and listen to his childhood experiences, as painful as they are to hear.
We are slowly making our way through our troubled history moving towards something of a relationship. As men face the truth about their father-son bond, they will experience both pain and liberation. The son can come to feel more integrated as a man and perhaps willing to see his father more realistically, with both positive and negative traits. Both father and son may be able to recognize more clearly how their negative unexpressed feelings may still be impacting their intimate relationships as well as intruding into their friendships with men.
The optimal outcome, as men move forward toward resolving their feelings with their fathers, is to no longer be entangled with them through anger or hurt. Men can bring their newly earned individuation and energy into their love life, work life and friendships with other men.
To learn more about Dr. About the Author Deryl Goldenberg, Ph.