I have been asked why I wrote about fathers and daughters in my piece Good Fathers Make Healthy Daughters in Reinventing Normal: How Choice and Change Shape Our Lives (copyright 2013), but I never wrote about mothers and sons. It’s a good question.
When I was writing the piece on daughters, I had many examples racing around inside my head as these are cases I have frequently seen in my practice as long as I’ve been in practice, 22 years as of this date. I know the presence and involvement of a good father is priceless, for sons and daughters. I know the absence is a set up for a large number of challenges in life, sometimes for many years and multiple generations.
I thought at the time about writing a reverse piece that seemed like a logical choice. The problem I found is that I am the mother of sons—two amazing sons I adore—and I felt my objectivity could come into question. Maybe I can’t be objective. Okay, I’m not objective. More importantly, as I searched my memory for cases where I had adult sons in therapy as a result of disappointing relationships with mothers, the list was much shorter. The dynamics between the sons and the mothers plays out very differently than the dynamics between daughters and fathers.
What I have most often seen are angry men who carry and vent their rage on wives who wonder what they have done to cause the disrespect inflicted on them, never realizing the script was written before the pair ever met. I see women with low self-esteem who turn their insecurities inside, never feeling good enough. It’s even possible for the younger generation to find one another, create a new relationship that then mimics the past and parades as “normal” only because it is familiar. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy has been well proven to help individuals and couples to rewrite these tired old scripts and create a new and improved relationship.
That is my long answer to a short question. With my admitted lack of objectivity, I will close by saying, personally and professionally, sons are not men we own but they become the men we celebrate as the gifts they truly are.