The Psychology Behind Strained Father Son Relationships

psychology strained father son relationshipsOver the years of working with men in therapy, I discovered that the issues that so often come up about careers or relationships could often be traced back, sooner or later, to the lack of relationship with their fathers.

A man in therapy who I’ll call “John” describes his experiences with his father as follows,

My father was a successful clothing salesman who worked a lot, but even when he was home on weekends he wasn’t available.  All of my life I’ve suffered from uncertainties about my masculinity.  I think it’s because he never shared anything about himself with me.  He didn’t tell me what kinds of problems he wrestled with, what he felt, or what it meant to him to be a man.  I’ve had to make it all up for myself, and I’m never sure I got it right.”      

The German novelist Franz Kafka reveals about this about his father in “Letter to My Father.”

“What was always incomprehensible to me was your total lack of feeling for the suffering and shame you could inflict on me with your words and judgments.” 

Kafka goes on to say that the hostility his father expressed against him as a child, he now turns against himself. “My father’s method of upbringing had saddled me with a general load of fear, weakness and self-contempt.”  As an adult, Kafka was haunted by his father’s hostile and impatient presence in his mind.

The American writer and poet, Robert Bly, gave voice to similar sentiments in his poem, “My Father’s Wedding 1924”,  “…his skin was bark-like then, made rough to repel the sympathy he longer for, refused, and didn’t need.”

These descriptions are representative of how men recall their fathers relating to them.  But even more striking than the obvious damage and wounds, is the repressed longing.  Many men are love-starved for their fathers (and fathers for their sons) and deny it.  To let this “out of the bag” is to face a great deal of anger, rejection, and sadness.

What is possible between a father and son?   What can men do with the array of untapped emotions that shield them from knowing themselves?  As adult men we can’t pretend away old unresolved wounds because the hurts eventually resurface in other areas of our lives.  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.

Most men will have a strong pull toward salvaging something of a relationship with “the old man.” We may still have a desire to address the damage, and try to have a more personal relationship with our fathers.  Perhaps a facilitated conversation in therapy would provide an opportunity to deal with the unfinished business, leftover resentment from our childhood.

In such a conversation, could a father accept his “son’s version” of the past?  In cases of neglect, physical or emotional abuse, could a father acknowledge his wrong doing without excusing his behavior?  Could he own up, or at the least be open and curious about his son’s experience of him as a parent (which isn’t easy if the father has been abused or neglected himself)?  If a father can truly accept his son’s perception of things, together father and son can begin to loosen the ‘Gordian knot’ and move forward.

In thinking of men I’ve worked with, I also wondered how they might feel if their attempt at having an honest father-son exchange was a complete failure. How would they react if their father denied the reality of past events, if they were met by a cold wall of “You got it wrong, and here’s why”?  At that point there would seem to be no hope for repair.  They could either deny their feelings about their father’s past behavior, or maintain a superficial connection to him, or they could address their own feelings and work towards a resolution.  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.

Personally, I have twice attempted to untie this knot , first with my father and much later with my own son.  At the time of my wife’s pregnancy, for no apparent reason, there was a sudden resurfacing of memories from my childhood.  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.

After trying to talk to my father and getting nowhere, I asked him if he’d be interested in therapy to address this leftover anger I felt towards him.  He responded with, “go pick on someone else in the family.”   He thought I was exaggerating the events of the past, and was extremely uncomfortable with my account of what had happened.  This created a stalemate between us, and every time I saw him I was tense and would entertain vengeful fantasies.  It was as though there was a neon sign that would flash on his forehead, “guilty of abuse”.  But I was determined to sort out these feelings, even if it wasn’t going to directly involve him.

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 was pleased to know that once there had been a time where I had actually wanted my father’s attention and love.  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.  Unfortunately, nothing in the realm of relationship was possible with my father. So I had to let go and feel the pain of that old rejection and my anger, and then I was able to disengage and move on.

When I had a son of my own, I was tested as a father myself.   The first early years with my son started off really well, but as he developed and became more autonomous and defiant, sadly, I was unable to manage my reactivity to his testing of boundaries, etc. as all children do.  I couldn’t turn this around, and lost my handle on his development. When he was around 5 or 6 years old, things started to “go south” between us.  No matter how much I had promised myself that I wouldn’t repeat and recreate the hostile relationship I’d had with my own father, I felt almost compelled, unconsciously, to reenact my own childhood with my son.  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. As they make their way through this emotional labyrinth, it can become a true “rite of passage.”  The son can emerge with a stronger sense of his identity and a solid sense of his own masculinity.  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.


Deryl Goldenberg, PhD is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara and has focused his work on Male Psychology and Couples Relationship issues for over 30 years.  To learn more about Dr. Goldenberg, visit his website or email him here.

About the Author

Deryl Goldenberg, Ph.D. Deryl Goldenberg, Ph. D., is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Santa Monica and Santa Barbara California. He has focused his work on Male Psychology and Couples Relationship issues as well as families with over 30 years’ experience helping children/teens and their parents.  Dr. Goldenberg’s areas of expertise are in-depth individual and couples therapy and providing intervention services to children with emotional and developmental disorders.  To learn more about Dr. Goldenberg, visit or email him here.

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Dr MJ Eilers

How can I as a father fix the wounds of verbal abuse inflicted in my son 23 years of age. I am truly sory and would like to repair the damage before it is too late?


Just reach out and take it step by step. Let your son know that you want him in your life. That you were wrong and now you see it. That you regret the time lost and the way you acted. Honestly answer questions that your son has. Give him space and time to heal. Respect his decision in regards to the relationship between you two disregarding of how that “hurtful” may seem to you.
I write as a daughter who had such a father. I’m 43 and still trying to heal over what my father said and did to my mother, me and brother when I was in my early years of life. I speak from experience. So far only rare contacts seem to work for me especially when his words during our last phone conversation started with “I have not changed, I’m the same…” That’s not what I wanted to hear and the way I look at it, I am the one who needs to accept that no matter what I do, I am the one who needs to accept the reality: he will never regret it or changed despite my attempts to heal the relationship and the nucleus of my family: my mother and brother. We all still carry the weight of our past.

Pray and be calm, have patience and reach out, help out, really BE there if you want to heal your relationship with your son. Good luck!


What if you don’t want your son in your life? What if he’s a constant reminder of how sociopath his mother was? We seem to assume the father was guilty. But relationships are complex. Sometimes, things just happen—there is not relationship to salvage because there was never any relationship to begin with. This is what I have experienced with my son.
I walked away out of necessity, on the advice of a therapist who saw how destructive my son’s mother was. When my son and I tried to reconnect it became apparent that there was simply nothing there. I knew he was hurt, but I couldn’t tell him I was sorry because everything I did I would do again. I told him I wish it had never happened, but all he heard was, “I never wanted you,” which was largely true. He was the result of a pregnancy entrapment. I tried to accept him, but his mother’s constant manipulation and crazy-making made it virtually impossible to connect with him. To me, he was always his mother’s pawn, brought into this world to manipulate and hurt me., and eventually, the family I went on to have.

The reconciliation with my son just quietly petered out. There was nothing to say. Nothing to repair.


Why can’t you just see him for a person, a child, who didn’t ask to be used as a pawn? Regardless of how he got here, he exists. How can you punish him for his mother’s faults? Is there more to the story of the type of person he is? If not, this feels so very sad and wrong to treat him this way because of her.


But you could at least explain the complexity of why you left and take responsibility for getting in the relationship with his mum in the first place.
Then he might learn that he should be careful with relationships.
You can still apologise for leaving your son without a dad, but that it was impossible to get to know him Because the mum didn’t let you.
Then one day when he’s old enough to understand he’ll probably want to talk.


Think long and hard before you try. Really be honest with yourself about whether or not you’re able to break that cycle that resulted in all that abuse to begin with. Speaking as someone who was in the “son” role in that scenario, if you think your relationship is bad now, you haven’t seen anything yet compared to what it will be like if you start to repair it and then backslide into your old ways. After however many years of verbal abuse, your relationship is on life support. If you start the healing process and then fail again, you will end it. There will be absolutely no coming back at that point. So while reconciliation might still be possible from your son’s end, you need to have an honest conversation with yourself about whether it’s worth the risk to lose what little you have now.


Cooper, I am a dad of two wonderful boys 17 and 19. I can tell you as a dad if some dads come across like they don’t like talking to their son, I really believe that the dad may be terrified at disappointing the son with a poor response or he may not have the correct answer and because of this will give defensive posture.


I have been thinking of the times I spent with my dad. We had never had a dialogue (one-one conversation) until last year (when I was 19). It happened after multiple attempts of me trying to connect with him. In my childhood, I thought he hated me because he only talked to me to rebuke me. He’s not a bad person, but I see that he may have ignored to make an impact on me as a child. I have 3 older brothers too (really old close to being father figures). My early interaction with them was not good either. I have memories of them making fun of me because I was fat and kind of girlie, and I got a feeling from them that I was uninteresting. This experience has weakened my psychological wellbeing today, and affected my behavior. How do I heal these relationships? How do I find the confidence I need today to be the man I should be?


How do I get my son to talk to his father . He has cut us both off .Has become a father now himself without us knowing . He hasn’t lived with us since he was 18 he is now 30 .Why after all these years has he turned the last time we spoke/ saw each other was in 2020
How can we start to communicate when we don’t know why
Any advice would help

Jackie Krenowicz

My friend, Charles, would not talk to his father no matter how many times he tried to reach out. Charles ia suffering in his relationships, had 2 failed marriages. Now seeing me but would not open his heart. Often sounds angry and insecured, jas abandonment issues.


Dr. Goldenberg,

Thank you for an your article and words-framework-mindset-approach to help me to reach out to my adult (29yr) son.

The early years with my son were good to excellent, when he turned 11 or 12 he became a bit of a firecracker(normal) and sadly, my response was similar to my father’s; bullied and intimidated. My father didn’t have a father to teach him; his father died when my father was 8yrs or so.

For a few weeks, I blamed the acrimonious divorce, his mother remarrying and moving out of state. The I accepted that it was ME. I was the adult. I failed. I lost my son.

A while back I read approx 95%+ (?) of estranged relationships reconcile. I also read that the longer the estrangement, the harder to reconcile.

Thank you for encouraging us to reach out and take it step by step.

I have hope and low expectations.


I have two sons. One is 21 and the other 20 years old. Both have a terrible childhood with absolutely poor relationship with their father. He thinks that he loves them but to the extent that his weird “love” choked life out of both. He still refuses to understand and acknowledge the problem while blaming everything on everybody else. The result being the 21 years old has developed mental illness while the 20 yeras old has cut all ties with dad.
What should I do as a mother to help both my sons?
P.S: We did not have a healthy happy marriage and now living seperately after 22 years of marriage. Believe it or not we are not divorced yet for the kid’s sake!


Uzma your remarks are making me instantaneously live my past. I am living the same path as your son who has cut all ties with his dad. I would like to know if there is any chance that I will have a future with my father in my life. I want us to be friends with him again. I think of when I was 6 or 7 years old when my dad was my buddy.


Thank you for this article, and for me, it hit the nail on the head. I am father to two kids, 3 and 4 and I love them to death. However my response to them testing their boundaries has been immature, for the reasons you mentioned above. It is already changing the once great dynamics between us, and something I am aware of, but find it so hard to change.
I do realise that the clock is ticking and I do not have much time to turn things around. Sometimes I feel reckless and say to hell with it, they will miss the love I have to offer. However I know that it will hurt both parties, I am also the adult, in a position of control, and they are the children, who are so new to this world.
Fortunately, my wife, their mum, is a lovely woman, who is our rock.
I have counselling once a week to try to sort out my emotions. I read around the subject. I write emails that gets sent to myself at future dates, that so that my mental recollection of events is kept in check. I also acknowledge and accept my short comings as a person, and that I can be better.
It’s not easy when you add in the everyday stresses of money, work, other relationships, and past history. But my kids have hopefully around 80 years ahead of them and every improvement I make to myself now, will be an investment that will keep on growing well after I am gone.


My husband (now a retired physician) taught me the trick of saying, “Hey, we don’t do that in this family.” (It worked for me as a teacher, too: “Hey, we don’t do that in this class.) The need for a sense of belonging is very strong.

Discipline guru, Barbara Coloroso, suggests focusing only on what is morally wrong or life threatening. Determine to let go of the rest — the things that might bug us but just don’t matter. Kids sort things like that out — but they do need your guidance (and sometimes discipline) to understand what is safe and morally right. You’re the adult and you’re allowed to set the boundaries, but do so with your wife and explain them to the kids together, along with the natural or logical consequences for choosing not to follow the family rules — and then *be consistent* (AND a good example).

Hope those two suggestions help.


GLAD I came across father never knew his father and his mother was acknowledged as a sister caus she was not married.ive always seen myself as the dog of the family .no matter how cruel parents can be you still keep going back looking for affection.i suppose they could not find the balance between a behaved child and one that could have any confidence.I have a beautifull daughter which at 20 i adore.i never wanted a son and its only now i know its because i did not want to make my fathers this day he still gives me no respect.its not that my opinion is right or wrong its never asked for. trying to learn that their is a time to cut ties and start trying to heal the hurt.


i dont much like my oldest son and he doesnt like me . i dont feel he was ever treated badly but at the age of 17 him and my ex conspired to drive me out of my home . to attempt to get closer to him to this day would result in me getting shivved again — no thanks . he can stay his ass in chicago and ill stay my ass in central indiana where i belong .
i dont have to like somebody just because im related to them . thats absurd thinking .

Roberto Ortiz

I’m the product of an adoption by a single mother. The only male role model I had was her dad, my grandfather. He did give me tons of love and I just crazy about him. When I was 15 or 16 he passed and my emotional world came to total halt. My amazing mother worked long hours and was a very strict disciplinarian. The physical abuse was constant. I remember verbal abuse and my mother parenting with fear and threats. I was often spanked with a belt, iron hanger or anything she could throw at me. Fast-forward, I became the dad of three children two girls and one boy. To understand my fatherhood experience you must understand that as a young boy I was very hyper and I’m certain that I had some type of undiagnosed ADHD. Not doing great in school but at the same time vey smart (ironic ah?). For some reason I was always in trouble, never did drugs or landed in jail. I was just a loner and kept to myself much of the time. I did have friends that from time to time I would go out with in high School. This said, I’m know a proud parent of a 27 y/o girl, a 25 y/o boy and my youngest daughter 23 y/o. My situation is with my son. It seems that I said very strong things to him when he was a child and parented him with fear and threats as well. Once in a while he’ll visit that hurtful file cabinet and pull out a very painful experience with me. I feel that he’s angry with me and the resentment is obvious. I’ve asked him to please forgive me since I was a young dad with no father role model. I had no idea of what to do and say. All I knew was that I didn’t want him to go through what I went and I he HAD to become a better person than me. I chose to become a parent that verbally intimidated and created fear in my son. I never put a hand on any of my children. That was the only thing that I did different from my mother. Everything else I’m my mother. I feel lost, shame, guilty, depress, in agony. I feel that I’m the worst dad in the world. I’m so sorry for what I’ve done. I can’t stop thinking what my poor boy is going through and what I said that marked his life so deeply. That at 25 y/o he still brings up bits and pieces to my attention. I don’t know how to fix this, but one thing I know is that I can’t live with this agony much longer. How can I fix this between my son and I? Thanks for giving me an opportunity to vent my heart. Thank you.


At least your sorry about it and are making the effort to make amends. That makes you a good dad. My dad’s never tried to evaluate his behaviour at least in front of me.
When your son grows up he’ll probably be more willing to work things out with you.
Just show you care occasionally and he’ll see your not the bad dad you think you are.


I’d also add, why not see if your son would like to do a few counselling sessions with you? So that you two can work things out — and get past them — in a safe and guided environment?


18/02/2019I thought i had a good comunication and wonderful relationship with my youngest son 38 years. old. I helped him in every way possible telling him after evry phonecal he zzzzzzzzi love you son.He would call me every 2 or 3 weeks across the Atlantic and mention that he was worried about my health and old age. I felt loved and cared for. We would talk about work, his girlfriend everything that came up.
If i could share experiences to help him in his work i would share. My training got him very far in his work.
10 months ago out of the clear blue he said we can’t speak anymore because i am busy i’ll let you know. i am going through a difficult time.
I have written tens and tens of messages to learn why he would no longer talk to me. It is 10 months and he still does not speak to me or answer chats or messages.
What the hell did i do wrong????????


Charles, it doesn’t sound like your son is suggesting that you have done anything wrong. He explicitly told you his reason: he’s overwhelmed with feeling busy. Yes, 10 months is a long time— but it sounds like he might be going through something in his own life that isn’t about you. Who knows: Depression, joining a religion, a relationship breakup, a catastrophe at work. Or maybe just an exhaustion with what he felt was too-frequent communication obligations (the world is so different now than it used to be; many of us have hundreds of unanswered emails, constant texts bombarding us, and a backlog on the voicemail. Burnout is real, and some people hit a point where they want to eliminate long distance communication for a while to focus on immediate local obligations). Yes, your son SHOULD be more respectful of you as his father, and respect your emotional need for more frequent contact — but humans are fallible. And he might be failing in his ethical duties right now for a myriad of different reasons that have little to do with any guilt on your part. (Unless there’s more to your story than you mentioned).

Jeffrey Rossmann

I have 2 children from my 1st marriage. My NOW soulmate, moved heaven & earth to get my children from my ex. Spent 100’s of hours on legal issues and paperwork. My ex went WILD as if she was a party girl again and my kids suffered physically and psychologically as she partied and had an abusive boyfriend to both her and them. My daughter, 11 at the time was scared and confused when I left the home. Sadly, she became suicidal and we had multiple trips to therapy hospitals in the area. After her 4th attempt I offered an alternate solution of having her go to my parents. Insert Evil Mom syndrome and the choice was clear. Here’s the point of my story. We went to a mutua meeting point and we had Xmas gifts for everyone and when my son got out of the car to go to my parents car…the hatch opened and they never got out. He was a child LOST in outer space. My heart sank as we were devastated by their actions. My parents fell hook, line and sinker for what my daughter told them. This was 2015 and to date, not 1 single email or phone call or txt message or any other form of communication was done by my parents to explain WHY they did what they did. Cold Turkey. I have RAGE inside me on a level that police profilers would be like …DAMN!! I will never act on it but the fact that my ASSHOLE father would just go…adios and not try to contact us in any way for clarity is beyond comprehension. His wife, is a fucking bitch and as close to being the actual Anti-Christ as any human I’ve ever known. She WAS my mother, as my real mom passed and she was a wonderful human towards my wife and I but when this happened, she SATAN’D up and I now know where I stand. I will NEVER get over this complete back turning on my wife and I as they never walked a millimeter in our shoes. Story has so many more turns, obviously. But point is… communication and we were “judged” by ppl who did nothing and-knew nothing .


So -I am a 46 yr young mom to an Amazing young man who will be turning 16 this year…a few more months actually. I married my High School Sweetheart (Yup, My sons Daddy). In school it seemed I took the roll of Godmom to so many of my girlfriend’s who had become pregnant in school as well as most of them quitting their education, but they also bore children by Boys who Never were father’s nor supported their children. I swore Id not go down that path especially knowing I came from an abusive and broken home with my mom and my dad. Though Momma Never talked bad about my dad to my brother and I, she never had help financially or otherwise from him, she was also abused by him and I thank my big brother for shielding those times from me, yet he was the one most harmed by seeing the things he had, he is now 50 and even today I still see his pain and the toll it took on my brother. So after I married We planned out son and Kolton was born when I was 31. Other than marrying the live of my life, becoming a Mom to my only child “My Son Kolton” was by far the Best thing that Ever happened to me. But after he was born, my husband lost all interest in me, hell he even told me that because of the weight Id gained from my pregnancy, that I grossed him out and he had no desire to have intimacy with me….. My son was 18mo when I filed for seperation. The hardest thing I ever did in life because I truly believed in “for better or for worse”… completely ripped my heart out, one thing I had Always known though was I would follow my Mothers Lead in that No Matter What, Whether my X had a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, Id not be that woman, mother or X, that would drag a man down and rape him financially or dangle our son over his head demanding More Money or you won’t ever see him kinda BS that O have seen Sooo Many Women/Mothers do to a man and believe me….Ive seen a Many! So every other weekend it was….and ohh were the days without my son just Awful. I didn’t think I could miss anyone or anything as much as I did on those 2 days. As the years went on, I never took him to court, never demanded more, I only demanded he be a Dad! Because he nor I ever had one, I insisted on this! I even bought my home 3 miles away from the Marital home where we all lived (owned by X’s Mom and Step Dad), so that he could see him, take him or whatever anytime….I always placed him on School paperwork, daycare, sports etc… As His Dad who could retrieve him any time. But as time (years went on) he only stuck to that Everyother weekend Definably never took him longer, or on vacations or anything. So My son last year was 14 and about to turn 15, when his dad walked away, turned his back, and walked out of our sons life 100% just like that!!! All over what was their 1st Argunent about going to a concert with Friends where I had already said No, not without an adult. So he calls his dad thinking he’d get a different answer all to have his dad tell him that he wasn’t going to allow him to go to a Rap concert where he continues to tell at my son over the phone telling him that if he starts going to those kind of concerts he will be White Ni&&ER! Calling his friends The N word and just Disgusting!!!! My son has been raised by ME, And I have thought Him the importance of having multiple friendships of all colors, all walks of life and without Predjudice! Not in a Million years did I ever expect that his father would say such! My son told him he said Dad…… if you say that word one more time I am hanging out the phone on you (something we DoNot do to people) …..his dad repeated the word a few more times and my son said Im hanging up now because You are MAKING ME SICK DAD…AND IF I HAVE TO DO THAT BE PREPARED THAT I WONT EVER NEVER CALL YOU AGAIN! ……and so he ended that call. My son made me prouder than Id ever been in his 14 years of MY RAISING HIM THAT DAY! His father on the other hand he has No Idea what the Hell He Is Missing Out On. Because my boy is AWESOME IN EVERY WAY! His father is the biggest POS Excuse for a Dad or Man Ive ever seen in my life! It kills My Heart to the Core that he is no longer a part of my sons life, and Trust me when I say, I hurt over this Way more than my son does But again….. This just shows me that Im an Amazing Momma and I -ME ….. Have done one hell of a job raising my son and I honestly couldn’t be more PROUD! So much his father has chosen to miss and Will Miss…..because he doesn’t have a heart to turn back around to his son and apologize! What a shame huh? It’s cool, he still lives with his Old German Hagg of a Mother who still pays his bills and would not fathom any kind of female in her house with him! LMAO……here’s your KARMA my X! Your Momma is gonna live to be 110….. Lol and the Controll she has over you and your life IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU DESERVE! My Boy Deserves a Better MAN to Call DAD!

Lloyd Hall

A lot of painful letters! I am compelled to share.
I am a father of two grown men, 40, and 41 years old. I gave them everything they could possible need, love, support, encouragement, the best schools, the best neighborhood, the best training in every conceivable sport, games etc. Both graduated as lawyers from top universities. I believe in duty, hard work, and and self discipline. My father died when I was 6 years old. My mother had 8 kids to raise. I put myself through university, and never caused any problems for anyone. I don’t even get parking tickets. Always I try to show gratitude for any favour I might receive. I try to serve society as a volunteers in any number of ways. When I divorced their mother essentially because she tried to kill me, they started to be really angry and hateful towards me because I “destroyed their perfect life”. I continued to conduct myself with dignity and civility and stayed above all the ill will. Their mother made every attempt to destroy me, my employment relations, my friendships, my personal property. Essentially, I left with nothing. Essentially, I “threw everything overboard” to save myself. In divorce, be prepared to loose everything, except your health and your faculties. All material possessions can be replaced. This mindset will help to avoid bad bargains. Your personal reputation is essential. I follow every rule, avoid any skeletons in any closets, complete your tax returns. Do nothing such that you cannot go up on a roof and shout to the world, “Guess what I did…”. Be open and transparent with all personal and corporate dealings. This avoids you being blackmailed by your spouse or your children. Break no rules or laws to help them. They will make you pay for it. This can be a type of personal hell. With them as witness, you could also end up in jail. Essentially, try to continue to live a life above reproach and to avoid having to apologize to anybody for any conduct or impropriety of any sort. I feel that these boys and their mother are seriously resentful because “I destroyed their perfect life”, and their attempts at revenge have always been frustrated or ineffective. Yes, they failed to destroy me, and on the contrary they have seen how I have used my personal philosophy of commitment to hard work and and with discipline and dedication have prospered. One son who I basically salvaged from the destruction and abuse by his mother has not spoken to me for 10 years. The other son makes every attempt to make sure I am treated with disregard or disrespect at every encounter. I simply ignore his boorish conduct. I never appear to be hurt by any slights or rudeness. Under, no circumstance, allow them to get to “Get to you”! I believe this capacity completely frustrates his attempts to be hurtful. He now has a daughter. The relationship I have with his family including his daughter is based on my sense of duty to them. I am always cordial and respectful. I personally have dispensed with “Love” its too expensive! In review, I think more men would be happier if they approached fatherhood with a sense of duty: “Think not of what your kids can do for you but what you can do for your kids”, approach this responsibility with a sense of duty to your kids and to the greater society. Expect nothing in return! Once you have done your duty, see every encounter as a transaction. You no longer owe them anything. It is now society’s responsibility. This is a sure way to avoid unmet expectation, heartaches, and disappointments. It works for me. Good Luck!

hlumbayo ndo

Like father like son has every thing as the model of lessons.One only looks and sees how has been struggling when he/she gets to the very experience.
The tense terrible experiences of the son seeing the failure of the father and latter failing is a sign that we can of ourselves do nothing but every good thing we do is a gift from God for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
This is a two way approach confess as has been done and ask for forgiveness.The two parties must reconcile only in the love of God and there after sholder on as between them none is perfect.

Kathy L Harless Ferguson

My husband won’t speak to his 35 y/o son because he’s an alcoholic and won’t work. My son periodically will clean himself up and stop drinking and go to church with his dad but when he relapses my husband stops all contact with him. This hurts me and I want to help somehow but not sure what to do.

F. C.

Thanks Dr. your article provides me parameters to and substantial evidence to confront my own fears as a father and try to mend the relationship with my son which i believe is not at all lost if i act with an open mind and willing to revisit with him phases of our past were i hurt his emotional development. Would take courage but I agree with you that as a father it is in the best interest of me to reset and reprogram the relationship by acknowledging my very own limitations and shortcomings because at the end, all I want is to ensure that my son stands up to himself and proud of being my son. ThT is not the cade today. I have much to admit and i am -by virtue of writing this- in the right path fo get it

Jon S. Stevenson #53132

I have a 22 year old son who is too attached to me, I have been divorced for 17 years but never out of his life. Whenever he finds I am dating someone he manipulates me by threats of suicide, quitting his job, etc to live with me. He has never held a regular job and at this point i am a bit over supporting him. I have now met a woman I truly care for and want to make a life with, however, he appeared told me if I didn’t help him he’d commit suicide. I don’t think this lovely woman will handle this much longer. He is now living with me doing NOTHING. He hugs me, holds my hand and kisses me and I am uncomfortable with the intenseness and emotions in these actions. A few of my fellow friends told me he might be latent homosexual. Have talked to psychiatrists and it is a dead end there. Any help from your viewers?


Hello, I don’t really know you but what comes to mind, is that maybe his emotional development ‘stopped’ at around the age of you divorcing his mother (age 4 or 5). He may not be over that yet? His behavior as you put it here strikes me as that of a very young boy, desperate not to loose this dad, like he is clinging on and very manipulating to you. Four years old tend to see all-or-nothing, which is normal for that age. Perhaps that he is overreacting if you compared to what you would expect for a man in his early twenties. Don’t mean to be mean, Jon, but since you have had a lot of dead ends in therapy. I thought of giving it a try. Compliments to you for reaching out here. Myself (women) am reading on father-son (partner and brothers) to understand them more and ultimately why stuff keeps happening to me. Best wishes for 2020!

Clare Masse

Thank you for your article. Very helpful. I am the mother of a 17 yr old son who has a very non-existent relationship with his father.. His father/my husband lives in the house with us.. I try to help the relationship but it turns into you are defending the other person.. I have asked my husband to seek therapy because I see this relation dissolving itself to nothing. He seems to thing my son needs therapy and not him. My husband grew in a very toxic family and he can not deal with confrontations. His solution is to lash out verbally or physically. If he tries to reach out his efforts are rebuffed by my son.. Then he goes back to being the emotionally immature father again.. I am lost not sure how to handle this.

Thanks again Clare


Great article , I think relations between fathers & sons are complicated , specially if you were the oldest son me , the Verbal abuse & some times the Physical abuse , left scars that will never leave , & am not married until now , may be i will never get married cause frankly i don’t have the energy to face my fears from repeating the same mistakes that have been done to me, & i had trouble in my career & relations , cause i never saw my father as a role model specially when it comes to relations , he barely had a good relation with my mother , again the verbal & physical abuse was always the problem with her too , & i never felt that am good enough to his standards , & i think i failed in my life partly -not totally- due to this unhealthy relation..

Casey Lynn

What about this type of relationship between father and daughter. I have a brother 3 years older but I was the tom boy. My Dad had a very hard childhood and I feel like we kids paid the price for this. My Dad worked to be better than his upbringing, he worked hard, is a perfectionist, had the my way or highway thinking, second is the first loser, be a leader not a follower and it’s not’s constructive criticism. Hard on me as a girl doesn’t even touch the surface of what I feel was a me, always trying to make good decisions and choices that would make him proud. I’m 47 today, and I have realized that I can no longer be around a man who makes me feel like a failure. I am very successful, and have been driven all my life. I feel like I am where I am, not because I has support, but because I was going to prove him wrong. ong. I remodel my own home, take care of my own vehicles…just put a new back door in before winter. He is the kind of guy who will tell you….you screwed the screws too tight. He will take a tape measure and see if my measurements are just barely off. My mother defends it and has all my life. She is insistent that he just wants what is best for me. He and I get into verbal altercations constantly because I feel like I have to stick up for myself. I haven’t spoke to him for 2 months now. The last time I was over there I asked him if he could cut a pipe for me and it turned into a complete cluster because he questioned if the length to cut was correct. It was my last straw….my mother says I’m mean, he means well…that’s just the way your Dad is. I have father figuresnin my life who treat me more of a daughter than my Dad. Am I wrong for feeling completely brow beat and for deciding that I cannot handle the mental beating I feel like I’m getting? Nothing is good enough, so why bother. I believe that his treatment me is why I have the worst time in any relationship. I’ve picked people who are not goal oriented, even though I am. I think I’ve done this to not be criticised….I feel so lost.


Hi Casey,
Although I probably can’t provide any suggestion, but your post resonated with me so much, reminds me a lot of my relationship with my dad that I just had to hit reply. Im 38 male, and in the last year or so, I ended up spending more time with dad as he helped me renovate my house. Now he is super helpful and I can see that he just wants the best for me , but his constant nitpicking in everything is driving me up the wall. I find that maintaining a good relationship is to keep a healthy distance, not spend this much time together.

Allen Smith

I’ve been struggling with my relationship with my youngest son for his entire life. For some reason, we have not been able to form a bond of any kind, and this has be ongoing for as long as I can remember. He is absolutely ignorant to me, quite often will not answer questions I ask him and has made no bones about his disgust with my existence. I have tried and tried and tried to find out what has caused this rift, and I’m sure I am equal in fault. The more I try, the more I get snubbed and pushed away. I had asked repeatedly what he and I can do together, only he and I, but I either get no answer with a nasty glare or a very curt “I don’t want to do anything with you.” Today when I dropped him off at his practice, he slammed the car door so hard that the window cracked and I voiced my displeasure, which I am sure will now result in at least a week of nothing from him. I feel like I’m at the end of my rope and feel like there is little recourse other than to leave, if only for a short period of time. I have no troubles with my relationships with my other four children, at least at this time. I don’t know if that will change as they continually see the tension between my youngest and me. Sorry for being long winded, but do you have any immediate suggestions? I’d appreciate any advice from anyone.


Hello Allen Smith: It was July 2019 that you posted your entry here so by now you may have already resolved this. In the case of what you disclosed about your youngest son, I would start leaving him totally alone. As you quoted him saying “I don’t want to do anything with you,” I would leave him to his own devices – including getting himself to and from to places he wants to go. Since it’s clear he’s trying to “punish” you for whatever he sees you’ve done wrong, hopefully he’ll eventually crack and be forced to tell you what’s eating his lunch. My 2 cents’ worth as a grandfather.


Hello Allen. As a youngest child myself, I found it difficult not being taken as seriously as my three older siblings were. The youngest especially requires more quality time with parents because they don’t have younger siblings to take care of or boss around as a means of building character. It is possible that your son feels like he isn’t being treated as his older siblings were. I agree with Jake in that you should let him be more of an individual, and celebrate his achievements such as acing a test or making a sport team.

Laura B

Finally, insight about the negative impacts the father/son relationship can have on a child! Oftentimes the general argument about unresolved childhood issues focuses on and blames the mothers influence or parenting. Even when fathers are involved as of showing up is enough.

Which only perpetuates the issues by failing to address psychological needs.



I am 40 years old. I have few childhood memories of my father. I can count them on one hand. When he walked out on my mother, my sister, and me, I was only 8. My mother remarried when I was 10. My stepfather was just “there”: he never tried to be my father. He eventually cheated on my mother. They divorced. Growing up was a turbulent process. I didn’t realize how much the lack of a father contributed. I struggled to define myself. I lacked confidence–and still do. I have a family now. On the outside, I appear fine, even successful. On the inside, I’m a wreck. I feel deep anger toward my father. He calls occasionally. He wants to be a part of my life. He wants to see my kids. Not sure what motivates him. He remarried and has another son with his new wife. He seems committed to them. However, when I try and have a meaningful conversation with him, one where we connect emotionally, he seems uninterested. It makes my anger burn even more. My sister tells me he’ll never connect with us on a deeper level. She’s fine with it. I’m not. My mother has since remarried my stepfather. She brings him around me and my family. For her sake, I tolerate him, but I had hoped I’d never see him again. Both these “fathers” are now back in my life, but my childhood is gone. A part of me wants it back. I don’t know why. Their presence is too little too late. I have been indelibly shaped by their absence. All I can feel is anger toward them.

A grateful wife and mother to a hurting 16 year old

Boy am I glad I found this article. I pray that sharing it with my husband will be a moment of clarity for us all.

Antonio Jeravi

For years, I have had a strained relationship with my own father. When I was a young child, around 4 to 6, I would wait for my father at my grandmother’s abode. Yet, there would be times where he would not come. I believe this is the beginning of several of my deep mental problems.
Thankfully, my relationship with my father has grown, but the issues that came with some of his negligence will always remain, I fear.


You are in the middle of your father and his suppressed anger at the world.

Our country has turned very liberal, multi-cultured and subconsciously a man is more conservative and hates this.

A father probably is using you to take out his anger or maybe he’s an a**hole.

I kind of stay away from mine now because he only alters my brain.


It’s 5AM, I read the whole article & every single comment & reply posted. It all makes so much sense now, I wish I’ve known this sooner & I believe I’m lucky enough that my greatest fear (father) is alive & I still have the chance to at least try to get some answers

I can’t remember the last time I heard the word ‘proud’ come out of my fathers lips. Whatever it is that i do I always knew it wasn’t enough or something was missing because I have always wanted to be seen as the ideal son only through my fathers eyes. Now I get why I was so jealous of my friends father-son relationships, of all the advices their fathers told them before they passed away, I would die to hear just one out of my fathers.

Talking about his wrong doings here won’t solve anything but all what’s going through my mind right now is what on earth did my grandfather commited for us to go through all of this.

Mats Wolff

Thank you for mentioning about how talking about our feelings, we can come to a meaningful conclusion. I grew up without a father and it has greatly hindered me emotionally throughout my life. I feel that I am not loved and it really has put a toll on my personal relationships. Growing up without a father definitely has negative effects on a person’s well being.


I have 2 sons, one 25 the other 20.
The way my husband is treating my 20 year old is really worrying me. Being the mother I am told that I should stop fending for him.
The problem: since they were very young the way their father disciplined them would be by swearing and threatening them. I didn’t like the way he behaved and this caused a lot of fights between us.
Years later he has sort off calmed down with the eldest one, but the youngest one is still being treated the same. Unfortunately my son suffers from depression is seeing a psychologist on medication and is wondering why his father won’t bond with him and why he hates him. Last night in a fight my husband told me>>>>I am not happy with him, years ago I was mowing the lawn outside and he was inside playing games.!!!! So now we know. But this goes much further back. He can’t handle my relationship and bond with the boys especially the youngest.
I have been praying- he is a very hard man. Even in therapy he wouldn’t acknowledge his impact and behaviour on his son.
I don’t know what to do.


My son is currently 17. I recognized he had some anger issues regarding his father when he was 12 or 13. We went to a counselor who said they could help him and he still goes off and on as a 17 year old, several different counselors through the years, but through one practice. Back when we originally took him, they told us to gain his Trust etc., they wouldn’t be able to share his information with us unless they thought he would hurt himself or others. I’m glad my son still goes and has someone to speak with, but I don’t understand how my husband and I are supposed to help if we don’t even know what it’s all about. Our son tends to be “okay” at home, but for some reason when we are out in public, you can see a wall go up around him when it comes to interacting with his dad. So confusing………….


Hello my name is John. I am 58 years old. I trying to work on my relationship with my son. I went through a bad dovorce many years ago. I did not handle it well. During those years I should have been a better father . I had so much hate in me for ex She had been seeing my best friend and ended up marrying him. . I was mad at the world. Nothing made me happy. I began drinking heavily for years. As time passed it has gotten better. To make a very long story short my son is trying to build a relationship with me. I trying but I m not doing well. What are some things that I have to do. I want so much to get a strong relationship between us . Please give me some guidelines some ideas. This is so important to me. Please. Thank you.

Santiago Sanchez

Hello my name is Santiago. I am 24 years old. I don’t have kids, and I live with both my parents whom I love with all my heart. That being said the relationship between my father and I is starting to break. I am 2nd born out of 5 siblings. And the only one out of them that’s been beat for disciplinary reasons. I had a very difficult and challenging upbringing. I was consistently verbally and physically abused at home and at school by my parents, siblings, and others because I was morbidly obese and crippled with depression. Now I’m a adult. And I love my mom and dad. I have forgiven in me all resentment, anger, and pain I carried, or at least I thought.. being a parent is beyond hard. I see how my pops is with my siblings and I feel happy that they didn’t have to go through what I did with him, but sometimes I feel estranged to him. I know he loves me and has proven it with action and love for the family, but the scars he left on my psyche and in my heart are tremendously deep. I explode on him for things that aren’t that serious and vice-versa. I know I’ve brought him stress, and minor troubles maybe. I’m deeply saddened that my soul cannot let go. I want those memories to not matter and they don’t…Tell that to my psyche though, now that it is crippled by unresolved traumas inflicted accidently by a father who did not know. I want to make him proud. I love my old man, but our hearts are strangers to each other. His view of me is skewed. I know he senses a pain, a anger, a sadness, and perhaps even darkness that I carry. I do. I’m healing and I thank god. I LOVE YOU DAD IM SO SORRY YOU HAVE TO FEEL SORROW. I WILL HEAL IN ME FOR THE BOTH OF US.


I have only one child , now a man about 34 years. I am his father and he hates me and he has washed his hands of me. He has blocked my emails and my telephone calls. But I can only post or drop a letter to him.
My wife, his mother , passed away about 18 months ago when she had gone on holiday due to hernia bursting and her life could not be served after a surgery. My son blames that I did not seek proper treatment at the right time. He is the only child in my family. I have even asked for his forgiveness he does not want to know me.

I will be grateful if you would please recommend as to how I could reconnect with my son. I have no other children and I am prying to reconnect with my son.

I wait for your response.

Thank you



It sounds like that he sees you as a safe target to blame and this is where you need to put in boundaries but with empathy. It might be worth putting that in a letter to him. He is entitled to his pain but it isn’t your fault that she died. The outcomes could have been the same whatever happened and your son needs to face that reality.


This article is excellent as are the responses. I am a father of 2 sons and a dau. I realize now that when they were younger their mother had a need to be held in very high esteem by her children so she pushed me to be the disciplinarian so I always looked like the heavy. During their teenage years, their mom wanted a divorce to do things she never did as we met in college and married right afterwards. I was devastated, but since I had stayed home 1/2 time to raise the children, I felt that I had that special bond in our 50% shared legal and physical custody. This changed when she wanted child support, so I was under a lot of financial and emotional pressure as the judge first said the mother wants them back so the father gets 1.5 days every 2 weeks ( 3 days a month ), and I had to pay child support. Long story short, my ex. now had to manage the children most of the time and she thought of putting them in a private school 1 day’s drive from our area, and sent me the bill and then a court order. My two sons as teenagers were given their own credit cards and full access to mom’s car , then an apartment in college…..My ex. wanted the college divorce agreement changed for we would contribute as possible with the children working, getting loans….. to me paying for 1/2 of all the college bills plus apt / credit card …… on my $35,000 school teacher salary. My two sons knew of this and determined that I didn’t want the best for them and was a dead beat dad having to be dragged into court to pay for a private high school that cost more than my teacher salary.During these times I was emotionally and financially overwhelmed and did at times respond to their words to me by saying that their mom came from a wealthy family and that she wanted what she wanted and other choice words. They choose to go from the private high school to college and never speak to me again. I have reached out to them 2-3 x a year and apologized for not being the father they needed and wanted. I have apologized for showing disrespect of their mom in front of them. They do not respond. It is now 20 years later and I still keep my door and heart open, continuing to recognize their hurt feelings and their disappoints in me, apologizing, and asking if we can move past this and reconnect and no response continues. They have moved around a bit and I now only have their email addresses and my dau. ( who we get along wonderfully, will pass on my cards to them for me).They are in their late 30’s unmarried, living a bachelor lifestyle. What else can I do ? I still love them deeply and pray and hope that one day they will be available to reconnect.


It’s typical of the author’s generation that his discourse rests on blame: in this case blame the sons for the father’s shortcoming, failures, mistakes, etc. Do you not think that an adult son should ever be held accountable for his meanness of spirit towards a father? Chances are that the father has ‘done his best’. And, of course the thing about blame is this: you can blame others so easily for what they do, but you cannot blame them for what you don’t do. Thus father’s become a therapist’s blessing. The imagined pain of a son can be so easily placed on a father which means the client will return for another seesion the following week


Where do you think the meanness comes from Douglas? It doesn’t come from a father that is loving and generous, it comes from a Father who perhaps wasn’t those things. This is the issue I have with therapy and people in general. They automatically go to blame. Therapy isn’t really about blame. Therapy is about understanding the dynamics in which you grew up in and previous generations dynamics and in understanding it, you can then change your life. I don’t blame my Father for his actions but I do understand where his behaviour comes from, however it was his choice to not do things differently and for that he is entirely responsible. Blame doesn’t enter the equation.

Imran Khan

My family hails from Indo sub-continent, verbal and physical abuse is considered part of good parenting, discipline and love in many families.
I can hardly recall three positive, encouraging times with my father. I have tried to make sense of it over the years and realized that he himself never had a good relationship with his father and that probably has a lot to do with it. However he never stopped and asked himself why all his siblings, kids have avoided him and only spend time with him out of obligation.
I have felt envious of some of my white friends that have a great relationship with their fathers, seeing then enjoying together as friends/pals I know it does exists.
Institutional education has little to do with it as my grandpa had a PhD and my father is an Engineer. The best I can do is to make peace with it and be mindful of myself if/when times comes to raise my own son.


Hi, yes great article.
I have a son 23years old, we don’t get on, in my mind own mind I’m content with the fact that people are different and life moves on.
I also have a wife that obviously would like nothing more than for us to at least be civil to each other, I’m not, I know I’m not. So much has happened in the past leading to this point. From birth until about 7/8years things were pretty good, then it’s been down hill every since, so so much has happened leading to this point that my attitude is just as I said above people are different and if we were a couple we would get a divorce, my wife can’t get her head around that. I’m tired of hitting my head against a wall.
As of tonight, after about a year after him saying to me out of politeness – hello once a day, the wife called him from his room where he’s been for the past 13years for another go trying to get to the bottom of it, with no success, if anything just made it worse,
Your views and comments and advice welcome


Thanks you for your article. My husband is a good man but he has very deep unresolved pain from his strained relationship with his father who has sadly passed away. Our son is now 16 and it seems the wounds of my husband are influencing his relationship with our son. My husband is an angry man but also a gentle man. The anger is an automatic response when things don’t go the way he feels they should or our son is displaying an alternative narrative. I feel my husband is parenting from a place of fear and sadness which is displayed as frustration and aggression.
Our son is now displaying rage and frustration towards me and his dad when he and his dad try to talk about difficult subjects or my husband doesn’t feel our son is going the way he thinks he should.
Our son is a great kid but I’m afraid my husbands unresolved issues are instilling negative emotions in other son … pleas help

jeffrey appleton

ok where do i start . my Father and mother adopted me . as well as my father was desserted by his parents when he was 3 forcing him to live with his grandparents. finally meeting his mother and father for the first time when he became 53. jump back five years from then i was adopted and i always knew i was adopted it never became a issue till past couple years . but my father was always there to support me , bail me out of trouble . or help me in certain areas in life . than when i was 16-19 i had a son of my own ,his mother and i had complications and i didnt know how to coop or how to resolve the situation. so she left with my son and i started to hate the world , eventually i got into drugs and making it worse it continued and impacted my whole network of people in my life. costing me everything , my 2 full sized houses , my singing career , any friends i had eventually my new relationship fell apart and i ended up resorting to much harder and harder drugs till eventually something in my life snapped and i couldnt do it anymore . i got on some medication and started to get clean. my mother willing to try one last time started to go to councilor meetings and slowly became my friend again. now here is where the big mental issue is , my dad on the other hand i have asked him to come to the meeting he wont , i want to help with things he needs to do day to day , hes turned 83 this year and just retired last year altho he still is constantly on his feet , he has major health concerns to the point im scared hes going to faint when he goes to have coffee with his friends . but no matter how much i try and help he gets upset . and aswell if i just keep to myself and stay downstairs and avoid him then where i am staying is too big of a mess (i have a room with 3 1x2ft boxs and a couch) i understand that i fucked up . i know i really was not thinking. and sure i have some FASD,ADHD, but im trying . i would do anything to be the son hes happy to have . i mean the past few years ive found out hes taken me out of his will completely, the oldies car we used to work on together is now skipping me and my son is intitled to it . anything i do im a burden . i am always a negative impact on people. even if i work my ass off , stop doing any and all criminal behavior. i dunno how to talk to him . like the problem is i dunno what to put into words and/or actions to make it so me and him are happy to have eachother in our lives . i mean i am always going to value and respect what he has done for me and how he raised me . but now that hes starting to show signs of old age and stuff . i hatge the thought of him being stressed out about life ending and getting angry . he wont talk to me or my mother . noone knows whats going on , cause to him not talking about the problem means avoiding the pain .

alex mcmillan

came across your articles i was impressed with all the remarks thought i was alone with mine. Raised 3 kids on my own . Anyway life goes on when they grow up they do their own thing. Thank you for the input.

Michael W Robinson

This article was very timely for me in my farther-son relationship with my son. I like the advice you give on healing the relationship with our fathers before we heal the relationships with our sons. How do you do that if your father has passed away? Lately I’ve been shown some realities of that relationship from an outsider’s perspective. How do I reconcile with those realities and face them as fatherless son?


Wow, that resonated with me. I’m a 23-year-old son of a man, who never stopped criticizing me day in and day out. This resulted in me getting anxious and flinching in public. You can’t act authentically if you had a rough childhood like that, always in survival mode.
I never really knew until I was 18 that this was a real issue. I heard stories of people being forced to get their mouths shut after being abused. Horrible.
My culture denies mental health and has normalized this way of toxic behavior towards kids and my father has repeated this with me. Now my father asks himself why I and sometimes my siblings are distant from him after calling himself a good father. I try not to repeat this with my future kids.

Don Little Sr.

I am an educated geezer. I am a senior male
who has wrestled with some extreme issues most of my life and even now. I have PTSD from my service plus very strong issues with my son. I would like to straighten them out before I die but when I try my son literally runs away????? I would like to speak with you if at all possible. I am insured.


My brother started using and selling drugs at 15, and drove both of my parents crazy. He eventually temporarily stabilized enough to get through college, but his temper was always vile, he always blamed my father the most, then my mother and then me for his misery. Eventually, he was jailed overseas; my parents did their best to support himself during that time, and then helped him get somewhat stabilized psychologically when he got out. He hasn’t worked in the 15 years since, and his temper is even nastier. My father never approved of him, but he was and is a train wreck who lives alone far away and is constantly angry. (My father died about 6 years ago).

I know another man in his 80s with a similar son who has had a similar life. He’s thrown in the towel on him, finally, cutting his share of his inheritance in half, and avoiding his son’s phone calls. It’s simply too much for him to handle.

I think it might help to write an article about the self-destructive, troublesome sons like this, and for how fathers to best handle them.

People talk about unconditional love, but parents can eventually get battered psychologically too many times by adult children like these.


Hello sir, do you know anything about relationships between a father and son where communication stops, seemingly for no reason?

I’m 20 right now and my dad is 67. We used to have a great relationship, but when I was 8 or 9 years old, I think, I stopped talking to him completely.

Nothing happened that *should have* strained the relationship. From what I remember, one day he was talking about how he had asked my cousin a question, and that cousin had replied with a shrug (and that noise people make to say “I don’t know” but they don’t actually say it). I started to respond like that when my dad talked to me, as a joke… but then I didn’t stop responding that way for 11 years…

That might sound like a joke, but literally outside of a few instances I haven’t talked to my dad since. I don’t understand why; I think he’s a cool dude and I respect him a lot.

Every time I have the opportunity to talk to him it feels like something blocks me from doing so. I either respond with something simple or shrug. If he says “good morning”, I shrug. He asks if I’m making pancakes, I shrug.

I do it automatically. I don’t know why.

He’s getting older, about to retire, and it makes me sad to think about all the years that went by where we never had a real conversation.

He went to a concert some months ago from a band he used to listen to when he was young, and he sounded really excited to talk about it. He was telling me a bit about how it was… but then I instinctually closed myself off, even though I ACTUALLY wanted to hear him talk about his experience.

Like I said, I just don’t get it. Any explanations you have or advice (or stories where you’ve seen something similar?) would be greatly appreciated.

Philip Clinton Thompson Jr

Man! This world is truly fallen. It seems like people get hurt and then they hurt people … and the cycle just continues. Perhaps there is no solution…?

And what is more … now, in our modern age, many children are drugged for “ADHD,” and subsequently, depression and anxiety that comes from being drugged with amphetamines while developing at such an early age. With that, there is almost zero chance for fathers to truly ever “know” their sons or daughters because they aren’t their authentic selves anymore. So even if the father felt that they were loving, supportive, and present, there was no human or emotional connection between the two.


dennis lopez

Hello my name is Dennis and I’m 50 years old from the Philippines.I’m the only child “son” I’m a GAY.
Since my Mother died of cancer my Father hated me more and to make my story short after a year he found a new family and he never like to see and talk to me again…
His already 78 years old now and still healthy …
but he doesn’t like to accept my letters or anything that came from me…I love my parents and
I really like to reach out to my Father while there is time I know it is not to late …I really like to let him
know how much i care and love him as my Father.
I really need your advice or opinions.
what I must do ?
what will I do to reach out to him even for last time
I would love to hear your advices anything that I can do…
PLEASE… that will help me to have peace.
this mean so much to me …
thank you so much to all the people who’s make this TOPIC..


Is it so hard to add a date to any publication, particularly on the internet?
So is this article just from last week or is it from 20 years ago?


Well, The Bible already says ‘Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger.’
And german author Goethe wrote in his 1821 novel ‘Wilhelm Meister’s Journeyman Years’, that towards a son a father always behaves like a despot, he doesn’t credit his son for anything and he mocks him for his failiures.
So nobody is alone with this. Try to put your mind on the peaceful time with your father. After all, only a mother can provide love and happines to a child.


You have an enduring love for your paternal parent and hope you are ok. Also hope you don’t allow any unkind or non loving thinkg/behaving patterns affect or impact you in negative ways too much if at all anymore. Something good always comes from good intentions and actions along your path and/or someone elses path and may not be for who or what you intended, thats the real beauty of love, kindness and compassion. In terms of a solutions for you, could thinking outside ‘the square’ or ‘the norm’ be your answer? Theres a million and 1 ways to be involved in someones life and may not be the way you expect initially or even in the medium term but in the long run at least if you shoot for the stars you will at the least land among them somewhere. Moral is take it easy whilst your enduring to at least his end and make the most good of your everyday whilst you do and at some point you will
find or learn that someone you know will know someone he knows or works with or even lives with near or around him, thats how 6 degrees of separation works giving you the potential you need right now to finally become 1 degree at some point in time from him. Jus keep working away thru your faith and higher powers available to you and have a kind and compassionate belief in him even if he doesnt believe in you because 1 day he no doubt will be in need for someone like you mark my words and from what you did in the beginning and endured through even up until today, will come back around to him, to you and or to someone who needs that special enduring love, absolutely!. my Kindest regards to you my friend on your eternal path.

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