Better Father-Son Relationships
Maturity & Masculinity © Martyn Carruthers

Raising children exposes the parent’s maturity – and immaturity.
We help people solve emotional and relationship problems.

For over 20 years I have helped people untangle their relationships with family members – especially with their parents, children (emotional incest) and siblings. If you find my descriptions and conclusions about family relationships uncomfortably familiar – if you feel strong unpleasant emotions – please consider contacting me.

My father was a boxing champion and wanted me to be a fighter, but I hated fighting.
He called me horrible names and was preoccupied with his motorbike. He left my family
when I was twelve. When we met as adults, he celebrated by getting drunk and
talking about his glory days. This is exactly my shadow side.

Masculinity, Role Models and Becoming a Man

It seems that masculinity, however you define it, can only be taught by men. Masculinity cannot be taught by women, not matter how mannish they may act. Although some single mothers tell me that they can teach boys how to become men – I find that boys need, seek and find adult males to be their role models.

Look at the posters in a teenage boy’s bedroom. Common role models are men from television, cinema, sport and rock music … these men may not be the best role models for adolescent boys but they seem better than none.

Boys who grow up without mature male role models may not know how to mature – and continue life as aging adolescents or teenagers. If their role models were their mothers, especially mothers who were trying to fulfill male roles, the  boys seem at risk of becoming effeminate, bisexual or homosexual.

Sometimes it seems that in the West, mothers teach girls how to become women, while fathers teach boys how to become teenagers.

Few men intend to abandon, abuse, neglect or mislead their sons. Most men have good intentions … but good intentions are hardly enough. We help men “grow up” and build healthy relationships, which may reunite fathers with their sons, especially following family relationship trauma.

Father-Daughter Bonding . Mother-Son Fixation . Mothers & Daughters

Sons follow Fathers

Some men recognize the difficult behavior of their fathers, and want to give their own sons the love that they never had themselves. Other fathers only show interest in their sons if their sons are interested in their father’s preferred sports or careers.

Some men see their sons as proof of their masculinity and try to make them as tough as possible, rejecting gentler qualities as effeminate or weak. They might try to separate their sons from their mother’s influence as early as possible, perhaps attempting to make their sons independent and strong by emotional deprivation.

When these sons reach puberty, their fathers might encourage them to treat girls with little consideration or responsibility. Such sons may grow up ashamed of any warm and loving tendencies, replacing their need for love with need for power. They may be taught to believe that they can best care for their wives and children through abuse, criticism and control.

Later, these men may give emotional demands to their own sons. They may advise their sons to be realistic by preparing them for unfulfilling lives, or they may want their sons do something great that they, the fathers, could not achieve. Fathers who identify with their sons, especially if their own lives are unfulfilled, may damage their sons.

We help people solve trans-generational entanglements … even family habits that have been repeated for many generations. Have you suffered enough?

I meet men who feel attracted to women yet they feel shame about submitting to women. They may say that they love all women … yet hurt their partners dreadfully.

There are many potential father son issues … a few are:

  •  fathers who are jealous of their sons
  •  immature fathers who act like children
  •  addicted fathers who hook their sons into addiction
  •  fathers who wanted daughters and reject their son’s masculinity

A father who sexually bonds to a son can be devastating for boys. Later, as men, they may feel unable to bond with female partners. They may fear being perceived as homosexual; or if homosexual, they may wonder if their sexual orientation (and much of their lives) only reflects their fathers’ abuse.

Sons and Rivals

A strong man arguing with a strong female partner can be healthy if their argument is respectful and responsible. Unfortunately, many parents draw their children into their conflicts (see parental alienation). If the parents cannot manage their own problems, their children may try to protect one parent from the other.

A mother may  tell her son that she is a victim of his bad father. If the son agrees with his mother’s criticism of his father, he and his father may reject each other; but if he disagrees with his mother, she may rejected him. Some children seem to solve this dilemma by (unconsciously) displaying psychosomatic symptoms.

Sooner or later, the son may ask, “Is it possible that my father is OK?” The more a son perceives his father as OK, the more the son may be criticized by his mother, e.g.  “You’re just like your $%^&* father!” and distance himself from her.

If the son identifies with his father, as an adult, the son may seek a partner who is like his mother, and treat her in much the same way as his father treated his mother. He will typically blame his female partner for making him act this way.

Many men and women have told me that they heard their parents’ arguing and fighting a lot. They often learned that complaining and criticizing are normal female communications; and that irritation and anger are normal male communications.

Who can be happy?” can be a political issue in unhealthy families. Unhappy parents
may be jealous of their children’s freedom. Entangled or enmeshed children may
sabotage their own lives to avoid being happier than their depressed parents.


After a child is born, a mother might focus on the new child and feel too tired to care for her husband. Fathers who feel abandoned may show childish emotions and behavior.

My Dad cursed my mother and called her horrible names. He was physically abusive since I can remember. When my brother threatened to call the police, we got into a huge fight … Dad left and hasn’t talked to any of us for over 8 years. Chicago

Only mature men are likely to enjoy the responsibilities of fatherhood. Immature men may complain about their lost freedom, justify childish behavior and abandon their families. Some immature men reject their own children, especially their sons.

Few men seem motivated to talk about emotions. But if men try to hide their emotions, or perhaps act them out in childish ways, their female partners might start to perceive those men as problematic children in adult bodies.

My father had no time for me, but he was good to my older brother. He always
talked about his perfect son, but he avoided talking about me and my life …
You helped me get my father out of my mind.

A son’s transition to adulthood requires male sharing. Mature fathers and uncles can support boys – especially during adolescence, partnership and parenthood. If mothers prepare their sons to be mature men – too often the result are Mother’s Boys.