On A Boy Child’s Relationship With His Mother and Father and How They Affect His Life
by Andrea Watson | December 26, 2020
What’s the first thing you thought of when you read my title? If it was Sigmund Freud, then congratulations! You think like me, your friendly psych nerd. In Fact, It’s time for a break so the title and subheading can sink in. Here, have another picture just because this is a serious post we’re about to go through. And Freud makes me giggle.
There. Now we can safely move on. All Freud jokes aside (which is hard because they are hilarious), a boy child and subsequently the man he becomes can be deeply affected by the quality (or lack) of the relationships he has with his parents as he is growing up. So let’s go post-Freudian and check out some of the newer information on this topic, shall we? Good. Come along.
Now, as we go into this, we must bear in mind that any aspect of a man’s self-construct can change over time, regardless of the effects of his relationships with his parents. But there are some basic realities that just are. It is often said that a man’s most important relationship he will ever have is with his mother. Now this sounds perfectly like Freud just came crawling out of the bathroom dripping in cocaine waving his cigar at us, doesn’t it? But there is merit to this belief. What a mother does or doesn’t do, how she acts toward the father, if she is divorced or not, and the mother’s criticism of any of her son’s romantic partners are just some of the things that can affect her son in childhood and later on in life.
If a mother is neglectful, her child may not realize that they are being neglected and internalize the pain and fear, thinking it is their fault. These children get told that they are “selfish” or “too sensitive” when they try to get their needs met. Neglect and other traumatic experiences alter the adult’s brain functioning, and can change the actual framework of a child’s brain. This obviously can cause problems in adult life. A lack of a sense of security, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, and not taking care of their own needs are just a few of the issues an adult who came from a neglectful household can live with.
When parents get divorced, their following words and actions can deeply impact the child. If the mother talks bad about the absent father, berating him and calling him names, the child will be deeply injured. This is because, regardless of the mother’s relationship with the father, that father is still a part of the child and so the child subconsciously takes these as slights to him personally. The young boy may grow angry and resentful of his father, displaying emotions as strong as hatred toward his sire. The feelings can and likely will be carried over into adulthood. This may cause him problems in relating to other men in friendships, potential mentor ships and other types of relationships, including ones with those in authority. He may be violent and lash out at the world, landing himself in a huge mess of trouble.
Now let’s talk about fathers. If a father is distant, unavailable, or absent, it can cause the son to grow up to deal with an abundance of problems in careers, relationships, and many other areas. A father’s words and judgments to and of his son can cause serious emotional suffering and shame that he will carry with him his his entire life, or with enough therapy. He may be under so much pressure to gain his father’s approval that he pushes himself way too far in everything. Problems such as substance use, intimacy issues, parenting, and repressed longing.
A father’s complete absence can seriously affect a man’s outlook on life. His perspectives, views, beliefs, morals, standards, along with other aspects of who he is can all be altered by growing up without a father. They can deal with problems with commitment, becoming absent fathers themselves, and how they treat women. They may suffer from self-image problems, low self-esteem and self-worth, and abandonment issues.
It seems like a little boy turns into a man in no time. The years fly by. His relationships with his parents can either help him along into a fulfilling, productive life or leave him adrift with any number of mental health, self-esteem, and other issues. Sometimes as parents we cannot see or understand the damage we may be doing or the neglect we put our children under. Parents are by no means perfect. Sometimes there are other family members or people to step in, and sometimes there are not. But there is no doubt that we can do our best to foster and guide these boys to a successful and healthy transition into adulthood. Until next time,