" I want to repair my wounded relationship with my son. It's been years, we simply don't get along. It has been 3 years and we haven't shared a single word with each other. It pains inside. He is reckless and I'm tired of his mood swings. Is there a problem with my parenting? What should I do to repair my bond with my son? " Said a father in the therapy..
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why do a father & son don't get along sometimes?

The struggles between father and son are legendary. Consistent ego clash and power struggle are most common in a father-son relationship. Generations might divide fathers and sons, but personalities slice through communication and relationships. Whether by nature or nurture, fathers are frequently less open than mothers about their feelings and emotions. They hesitate to give motivating statements as "I love you, son", “I’m proud of you”, “I know you can do it, son.” The un-expressive nature creates a gap between them resulting in a lot of confusions, assumptions and dryness in that relationship. Lack of positive communication between them widens the rift.Sometimes father and son feel competitive against one another, their male tendencies to not communicate feelings are compounded. Their ego becomes a wall between them. However to repair the bond, one can always take the first step, by keeping their ego aside. Reconciliation between father and son is a must. A father's influence on his son's personal development is often unseen but nonetheless real. Men who have a positive childhood relationship with their fathers are better at regulating emotional distress and managing relationships later in life than those who don't. Let's understand what is it that as a "father" you can do to enhance and deepen the bond.

How to Mend the Rift?

Even with the problems that exist between fathers and sons, there are always opportunities to improve these relationships. It takes time, intent, patience and real efforts to repair the relationship. 
 

  • Acknowledge the rift:  Before you start to figure out ways to repair the relationship, you must acknowledge that the rift exists. Communicate your reflections to your son. It may or may not be accepted graciously. Have that difficult conversation. That conversation should be a real one, not about who is right or wrong. Avoid the need to be the dominant and powerful one in the conversation.
     

  • Listen to your son: Don't listen to reply. To establish a bond and connect, it's important to actively hear out what your child is willing to share with you. Become receptive to their emotional needs. When your child is taking a step to initiate a conversation first allow them to pour their heart out before you go full-blown parent to them.
     

  • Putting yourself into their shoe: You have a habit of boasting about their character, their achievements and life experiences. Yes, your intent may be to inspire them with sharing your life journey or pushing them to be just like you. However your son may want different things in life, maybe his ways are different from yours, maybe in today's age and the time he feels that he is right. So, try to put on the glasses with which they see the world, it will help you understand your son better.
     

  • Taking the initiative to solve the problems: Turn off the ego chatter within you and reach out to your son. It's okay, to take the first step. It will generate feelings of care, love and respect in your son for you. They might not want to share what they are going through, but just the idea of you being there for them will give them a sense of belongingness. It's important for your son to know that you are there.
     

  • Recognize, realize that sons are influenced by you: Whether we know it or not, our sons learn about being a man primarily by watching their fathers. A father's influence on his son's personal development is often unseen but nonetheless it's real. So be aware of your actions around them and understand that they consciously or unconsciously they look up to you. They need a map to navigate through life, they do try to seek that in you.
     

  • Understand and respect the individual differences: Your son is not you, he is a completely different person. There will be a difference in the ways they deal with their life. So try not to be judgemental or harsh when they come up with something which doesn't match up to your expectations. You don't need to accept their opinions or beliefs, rather try respecting it.
     

  • Engage in an activity together: Rather than allowing the distance to continue, work to find something to do that gives you a chance to be together. It may be a board game, shooting baskets, taking a walk or even playing a video game. Sometimes, it’s best to just be together in silence, rather than forcing your child to talk. If your child is resistant, keep the door open and continue to look for opportunities to spend time together.
     

  • Soften up the criticism so it sounds more like a suggestion and doesn't feel like a personal attack. You don't have to withhold your opinions but just to be more sensitive about sharing them. Resist the urge to label behaviour, such as calling it selfish or idiot, since such words leave a stinging imprint on the relationship. Take context and timing into consideration since the best feedback might be dismissed by the insensitivity displayed in delivery.
     

  • Reinforce their strengths: Our children are bombarded with negative messages all around them. Just watching commercials on television will create a sense of inadequacy in our sons. They probably are not quite as strong, they may not have six-pack abs or be quite as good looking as the guys they see on television. As fathers, you need to catch them doing things right and communicate your approval. You should create positive ways to celebrate their accomplishments. Feeding them constant reinforcement will help build relationships of trust and overcome this constant barrage of negativism that they confront daily. Through affectionate and approving gestures, and through a variety of attendant verbal and nonverbal "you've got what it takes," "nice shot!" messages. In this way, fathers bestow a growing sense of adult masculine identity onto their sons. Your love and guidance will open the door to trust and acceptance that build your relationship.