Hey there guys,
I was talking to my friend the other day and he and his father had been doing some activities together and every time I heard the words "my father and I did this and that...", I'd have this feeling of loss or estrangement. My father and I never had a great relationship. I kept my distance for protection as he was too aggressive and he abused me, my mother and my siblings. Our relationship was not only bad, it was literally traumatic and honestly, I still feel like that is an understatement.
Although I have grieved what happened between us, whatever happened, happened and is now in the past and I don't hold a grundge against him. My concern now is, I plan to have children one day and I'm afraid I won't know how to be a good father to them as I never really had a positive role model.
So I'd love to hear from you guys about your relationships with your own fathers and how you feel it impacted your lives later on.
Much love and peace,
No advice here, other than to say that I REALLY know that feeling. My dad and I simply never "clicked"--and I never thought he liked me very much. He had his own set of problems, and I hate to make it sound like it was ALL bad--it wasn't. Many would say that, materially at least, I grew up privileged. But, cutting right to the chase, I'm 49 now, and sometimes the ache is still there, and seeing dads and sons who really have a good relationship with their dads sometimes magnifies that feeling.
My father raised me (my mom bailed when I was 4). There was abuse, but there was also love and a very "Us against the world" dynamic. There was also a lot of anger on both sides. I would act like a little shit, and he would beat my ass for it. We can't live together, but now that we don't we get along famously. The last time he "lost it" and tried to lay hands on me I was 26 and had to come home and stay with him for about 6 months. When the confrontation happened I told him that I wasn't a child anymore and that I'd have his ass in jail for assault so fast it'd make his head spin. After that I moved back to Texas and we get along great.
I learned a lot of how to be a man from him. In all other things he was fair-minded and decent. He served his country both in the Army and in the Guard. He took me to church and taught me about God, we just had this one glaring defect in our relationship. I used the negative experiences as a "what not to do with my own kids" guide and it's worked out pretty well. I've used that same thought process in my relationship with my wife with success as well. The biggest thing that I'm still learning is to deal with my temper. I've seen what happens when you don't and while I fully forgive my dad (and he me) I know that in a lot of ways I don't want to and could never be him.
I hope that's not to scatterbrained. The whole thing is a little tough for me to express.
Thanks for the response, guys. Interesting stories. I feel I have missed out on so much having an abusive father. But as I said, it's in the past now.
I think there is a lot of tension and anger in every guy's relationship with their fathers. Wouldn't you agree? I don't know why, though.
Anger and tension with every guy? I wouldn't say so. With a lot of guys? Yes.
My own relationship with my father isn't spectacular, but it's not horrible either. We get along for the most part, but he lets me down in a few areas I hold in high regard; specifically, religion. He would take my brother and I to church every Sunday when we were younger (my mother never came for reasons only she knows). But once we reached high school, we stopped going, even though my faith was strong. I eventually started going by myself, which was hard, and I felt like my father let me down in that aspect. It's really the one area I wish he was better in.
On the other hand, other aspects of our relationship are good. We both love politics, and now I'm majoring in political science. I credit my father for that. We love Americana stuff, which is kinda our pastime I suppose (you know, things like baseball, diners and drive-ins, and other awesome American stuff from a different era). I know that he loves me and cares for me and he really tries his best. Despite that, though, I've always felt there's one thing missing, and I guess it was the religion thing.
I guess I don't have much to complain about with my father. Though if we were talking mother-son relationships I'd have quite the story...
Good thing you know your dad loves you. I think that's the most important thing. I know he let you down in regards to religion but I guess no parent is perfect? Especially when it's their first kid. My parents (both mother and father) let me down in that area too but that's a long story, although surprisingly my father was on my side that time.
As for mother-son relationships, I usually don't hear many complaints. In fact, Mother's Day in Brazil (where I happen to live) is the highest shopping season after Christsmas, while Father's Day falls far behind. I'm not saying mothers are perfect, though. I've heard most child abuse is performed by women. I don't have much to complain about my mom, though I think she could have done a better job raising a male child (she often talked badly about men, especially in regards to sex and "shamed" me where she thought I resembled my father).
I'm kind of struggling with that issue myself. I have a 15 y/o stepson and a 4 y/o son. My father wasn't the best father as he was absent in mind even if not in body. We didn't do a lot as father and son. He was physically abusive although not excessively so but never hit my mother (if that makes sense).
I do find myself wound up in my "own little world" often (as I think my father was) and not doing as much with my kids as I should be. I try to break out of that mould when I notice it happening.
One thing I will not do is spank my kids like I was spanked as a child. They may end up being a bit spoiled but I can't do that to them.
My key is that I NEVER punish when I'm angry (about anything). I spank for lying and direct defiance, but that's it and we talk about it before and after about what caused it and how to avoid it in the future.
ETA: 15 is too old for spanking in my opinion.
I apologize for breaking up the stories of bad dads, but I had a very positive relationship with my father. His father was not abusive, but he was fairly uninvolved, so my dad had to learn how to be dad himself, like you will need to. It can be done.
The most important thing, I think, is to a) show/tell your children that you love them and b) be the good example. Although I remember some of the advice he gave me, I remember far more the examples. For instance, my wife complimented me a few years ago when we were painting the house, noting that I didn't give up easily. I attribute that almost entirely to my dad's example.
Be the man you want them to be yourself, and don't worry about the rest of it too much. You'll surprise yourself.
If you really want some book-learning advice, I recommend "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters" by Margaret Meeker. Although geared toward raising daughters, most of the principles apply to sons as well.
True. Actions speak louder than words but both are important.
I tell my son that I love him to the point of his eye rolling. But he knows it. I am not perfect, but I am attentive and involved. I am fortunate to have an incredible role model of a dad. Sure, his mere existence embarrassed me when I ws younger, but I have always known how fortunate I am.
Get involved with other dads. Observe their interactions with their boys. Take what you see can work for you, and apply it to your arrangement. Read what you can. Your experience with your son will have its own gifts and challenges. But, you already seem to be on the right path.