Father Son Relationships – Learning About My Father
I grew up with two half sisters. Both of my parents were on their second marriage. When I was two, my half-sister who was 15, became pregnant. She married, left home, and gave birth at the age of 16. About one year later, my other sister left the house and married. Both of my parents worked full-time, so I was always alone. Toys and television became my babysitter and best friend. I grew up insecure about myself and I didn’t have a foundation to grow on. The father-son relationship was severely lacking.
There was no communication in my family and when we sat down at the dinner table, there was no discussion about our dreams, wishes, or hopes. My father was grumpy and showed little or no emotions at all. I remember always eating my dinner in a hurry so that I could leave the somber surroundings and go outside to play. That is how I escaped from all the emptiness inside of my heart. I soon became very distant from my parents.
I never received the love, attention, and nurturing a young boy needs. Of course, my mother would be there when I fell down or hurt myself. She was the one who worried about me the most. I remember she would struggle to even let me go outside to play, afraid that I would get too dirty or hurt myself. My mother stayed very busy. She would come home, tired from working all day, and cook dinner and then clean up. Her work never seemed to end. My father never offered to help -- not even once. I remember seeing my mom on her knees at night crying and praying in her room. She was the only Christian in the family. When I was young, I often went to church with my mom, but my attention span was very limited.
As I grew older, things that were important to me were not interesting to my father and he routinely ignored me. I could never share my feelings or show any emotions -- my father called emotions a sign of weakness. I never learned how to stand up for myself, so I mastered the art of running away from every conflict or altercation.
My mother tried to understand me and she would always teach me right from wrong, but I had no foundation of family values or morals in my life. I didn’t even know what love truly meant. As a matter of fact, the only foundations that were being set were ones of pain, distrust, and rejection.
By the time I was sixteen, I could never do anything right in my father’s eyes and his words made me feel worthless. He would often tell me that I would never be successful in life. I was heart-broken and had no one to turn to. I was alone. It seemed he was always fighting with me, but never for me.
Father Son Relationships – Trying to Run
My world felt like it was ready to self detonate. The pressure and all the anxiety that had built up inside of me was like a volcano waiting to erupt. I felt helpless, alone, and unworthy. At the age of seventeen, I realized that the father-son relationship wouldn't change, so I ran away from home and moved in with my sister, her husband, and their three boys. When I first moved in I was very insecure about myself and lacked any confidence. I had to sign an agreement that I would keep good grades and that I would work to earn my keep.
I really started to enjoy life. I started to see what a real family was all about. It was about love, communication, and responsibility. I respected my sister and brother-in-law for showing me compassion, love, and forgiveness and began to admire the way my sister and brother-in-law treated one another. I soon became more self confident, responsible, motivated and worked extremely hard to earn my keep and get good grades in school. Because of their impact in my life, I can honestly say that I am a much better man today. They provided me with the foundation I had always wanted from my parents. They gave me a sense of direction and for the first time in my life, I understood what love and family truly meant.
I don’t know why, but I decided to move back with my parents for my senior year of high school. I guess I wanted to prove to them that I was somebody. I actually thought that our relationship could be restored. But in a few short months, all the fighting and arguing just picked up right where we had left off. I felt like a prisoner of war and that I could not escape. I realized then that a relationship with my father would never be established. I truly felt that I was a failure as a son.
Graduation was rapidly coming and I had no future plans. I never really thought about a career or where I was going to live and my parents could not afford college. I didn’t know what to do, so I called my sister’s husband, who served in the military. Because of his influence, I enlisted into the United States Marine Corps after High School. Upon graduating boot camp, I was finally on my own. I was free to do what ever I wanted. It didn’t take long for me to get into drinking and partying. I began dating and having sex. My life was out of control.
Father Son Relationships – My Chance To Be A Father
I began dating another Marine. After several months, she became pregnant and because I wanted to do the right thing, I asked her to marry me. I was determined to make our marriage work. When our son was born, I was a very proud father and did not hesitate handing out the cigars! I now had the opportunity to become the father and role model that I didn’t have when I was a child. I made a pact with myself that I would set the example and be there for my son. I would be the one to help establish a family heritage of love, honor, and values.
About one year later, I faced the unexpected death of my father, who died of cancer. I remember when I walked up to the casket and touched his hands. They were cold and his skin color was pale white. I did not know how to react or express my feelings. My emotions overwhelmed me and I cried out. “Why didn’t he accept me? Why didn’t he love me?” I choked back the tears, but all the built up hurt and anguish just poured out. I realized right then and there that my father was not coming back and we would never have the father-son relationship I desired. I was never going to hear my father tell me that he loved me and I could not tell him that I loved him. The foundation and heritage my father left me with was one of pain and brokenness.
Soon, the military moved me overseas while my family had to stay at home. The separation was hard on my son and wife. Upon my return, I learned that my wife had an intimate affair with my best friend and co-worker. I was devastated and humiliated. My wife and friend had betrayed me, but I was determined to fight for our marriage and not give up. I knew first-hand my son needed his daddy. I will never forget the embarrassing humiliation that I faced when I went back to work and had to see my friend and coworkers for the first time. Everything in my life seemed to be spinning out of control and I felt powerless. I could not break the enemy lines. It seemed like I was being attacked from all sides. I was only able to stand against this enemy because of my sincere desire to be successful as a husband and father.
Father Son Relationships – Success or Failure?
Gradually over time, there was healing and our family seemed to get back to normal. But soon the military gave me notice once again that I was being transferred overseas. My wife took the news very hard and my son sensed something was wrong. I tried to explain to them both that I did not have a choice in the matter and that I would come back soon. I was losing control of my family. My wife started becoming angry over the smallest things. We were hostile towards one another, and the love and respect seemed to be gone from the relationship.