Fathers and Sons

 

For decades, psychologists and other researchers assumed that the mother-child bond was the most important one in a child’s life. They focused on studying those relationships, and regardless of how a child turned out, mom often got the credit — or blame. Within the last decades, though, scientists are increasingly realizing just how much dads matter. Research has found that not only are fathers influential, sometimes they have more influence on kids' development than moms.

 

The father figure

The role of the Father is, in fact, an important counterpart to the one played by the mother. Young boys, especially, look upon their Dads as heroes and try to imitate the way they talk, dress, and act. He tries to do everything you do and works hard to make sure he has your attention and your approval. You can see in your little boy’s eyes that he is utterly convinced that you are without a doubt the ultimate man in the world. Little boys look to their fathers for a representation of what 'manliness' means; part of the reason is the common biological identity that they share. This mutual identification results in the development of a strong empathy between them and the influence remains with them even as they grow up to become fathers themselves.

 

Feeling dad's love

When kids feel rejected or unloved by mom or dad, they're more likely to become hostile, aggressive and emotionally unstable. This is true for both parents, but in some cases, dad is a more important factor than mom. Behavior problems, delinquency, depression, substance abuse and overall psychological adjustment are all more closely linked to dad's rejection than mom's. Knowing that kids feel loved by their father is a better predictor of young adults' sense of well-being, of happiness, of life satisfaction than knowing the extent to which they feel loved by their mothers.

 

Influence and persistence

In every family, there is a member with more influence and prestige — the person who might set the weekend plans, for example. In families where dad is that person, his actions might make the greatest impression on the children. In those cases, kids tend to pay more attention to what dad does and dad says than mom, and he's going to have more influence. Dads may also be responsible for endowing their kids with "stick-with-it-ness" that serves them well in life. Researchers found that dad's parenting style is more closely linked to whether teens will exhibit persistence, delinquency and more engagement in school over time. This authoritative parenting style is characterized by warmth and love, accountability to the rules (but explanations of why those rules exist), and age-appropriate autonomy for children. 

 

When boys become men

Until the age of 11 or 12, children rely primarily on their parents for their moral and intellectual guideposts, but then they begin to search beyond their parents. As boys become teens, they generally question or challenge all their previously held perceptions about their fathers. This happens, as a natural course of trying to become individuals and to learn how to ‘be their own man.’ In this part of their lives, teen boys often reject their father’s values.” You're no longer the only man in his life. Adolescence is a time when he must reach out to other men for mentoring, learning, growth. A father can feel a mixture of pride and pain about this inevitable separation. It helps to know that you're not being permanently replaced and that your son's reaching out is part of his development.

 

The conflict

When your son begins to develop into a young man, both of you face challenges that mean working a little harder to maintain your bond. The father and son relationship can be one of the best as men to men friendships are often strong but when the same relationship is that of conflict, then it can have a negative effect on the rest of the family. So, what gives rise to a conflict in the father and son relationship

 

Power – Men and their need of power is an inbuilt trait and when there are two people trying to quench their thirst from a single family, the war can be difficult. In adolescence, boys generally become a lot more aggressive due to hormonal changes and this is also the time when he is graduating from a boy to a man. The presence of another man with the powers he wants to achieve can be difficult to accept.

For the father, an adolescent son is still a kid and it is difficult to understand his desires to take up responsibility. In this situation, rather than, treating him like a child it is better to treat him like a man. The father should hand over the rein of some responsibility to the son. This can reduce chances of conflict in father and son relationship.

 

Expectation – A father lives his dreams through his son. He dreams to fulfill all his unquenchable needs through him. This can be a lot of burden on the son. He has his own set of dreams and the right to fulfill them first.

 

Occupation – For a father his son's failure is his failure. To prevent this, he chooses a career for the son that he knows is less risky. As for the son, he might want to take up challenges which is not always easy for the father to understand. Occupation is an ultimate aim of a man and he can't accept anybody's interference in that path so the father becomes the intruder of his dreams, giving rise to conflict in father and son relationship.

 

Generation Gap – This is one of the major issues between parents and children but it becomes worse when it is between father and son. Generation gap can be solved only by surrendering to the fact that the father should accept the ways of new generations, as changing with time is the first mantra for success.

Conflict in father and son relationship, can be a major issue of unrest in a family. Therefore it is best to solve it before the situation becomes to grave. The resolution of the problems lies in the understanding between the two because no matter how much they fight, the underlying truth is that, they both are seeking to be recognized and aknowledged by the other.

 

The bonding

Don't expect long, “face to face” talks. Particularly at age 12 or 13, a young person is often struggling with overpowering and confusing hormonal changes; they're overloaded, flooded and usually not able to verbalize (at least not to parents) their inner turmoil. But action helps. Go fishing. Go to the gym together; build an "action relationship."

 

  • Be friends, as best you can. The nature of the conflict between a father and an adolescent son is determined by the quality of their friendship. An exchange of views can be full of anger, but the fury need not last, as long as some degree of friendship is there. Adolescents rebel. That's part of their job but if you can hang in there and keep the love alive, things will work out.

  • Accept your son's challenge. It's your son's destiny to compete with you, to question your rules, even your feelings. The moment of truth comes when you realize your son has more testosterone than you do. Your response to this challenge can make or break the relationship. Reject it, and you and your son are in trouble; accept it, and you can help your son win a few.

  • Win some, lose some. Suddenly your son is hitting more hoops than you are, or scoring more points at a dinner-table political discussion. Men are conditioned by the culture to compete, so as a good father you're likely to find yourself conflicted between the impulse to win and the desire to help your son become a man. Stay engaged: Compete, but not to win at any cost. In the best father-son relationships there is "a certain playfulness, a wrestling battle." Muscles aren't built by lifting feathers; muscles are built by lifting weight. The same is true of character. When your son does win, rejoice in his growth.

 

Being a good dad

Fortunately for dads, biology is there to back up good parenting. Hormonal studies have revealed that dads show increased levels of oxytocin during the first weeks of their babies' lives. This hormone, sometimes called the "love hormone," increases feelings of bonding among groups. Fatherhood also leads to declines in testosterone, the "macho" hormone associated with aggressive behavior, This change is stronger the more involved a dad is with his baby's care, suggesting that it may reduce a man's risk-taking drive and encourage nurturing and domesticity. What's most important is that fathers realize they matter.

 

Quality time is important. That doesn't mean going on fancy vacations, it can be playing ball in the backyard or watching a movie with your son. Whatever it is, just make yourself available and when you're with your children, be with them.

Sometimes love isn't enough. A father and a son can both be of good heart, but the power struggle happens anyway. Sometimes the father and son love each other, but the relationship disintegrates. Have faith. Healing can come many years later and its never to late to re-bond with your son no matter the age or differences.

BOND

Bettina Hemmingsen