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Building a stronger, healthier father-son relationship


My husband and I have been married for seven years. My daughter was 3 and my son was 4 when we were married and my husband adopted my children. My daughter and husband are very close, but over the years, my husband and son have grown to hate each other. My husband snaps at my son for every little thing: what he says, how he walks, when he acts goofy, etc. 

It breaks my heart to witness this tension. I love my husband, but I want to protect my son and thus, I feel torn. The constant fighting and cutting remarks need to stop. How do I help them do this?



There is a lot of societal pressure for the father-son relationship to be perfect, but as with any relationship, it rarely is. Healthy relationships take time and energy to establish and nurture. You can help the men in your life do this. 

If your husband has interests or hobbies such as playing golf, for example, ask him to take your son along and hit a bucket of balls at a driving range. Likewise, ask your son to explain one of his particular interests to his father and see if he would like to join him for an hour to experience it with him. You must lay the groundwork for these outings. Ask them both separately to be kind and patient with one another, even if they are not interested or do not perform the hobby well.  

Another thought is that when your son needs you to take him to a team practice, a lesson or the store, make up an excuse why you cannot do it and have his father do it instead. Then tell your son to show his appreciation with a thank you or comment about how nice it is to spend time with his dad.  

If your schedule allows, pick a night when you and your daughter make dinner and the men clean up. Then switch tasks another night so Dad and son make dinner and the women clean up. Of course, all of this takes planning, time and energy. But the relationships are worth it.

As far as the unkind comments go, tell them that when you hear either of them use a voice tone that is negative with one another or witness negative behavior between them that you are going to intervene.  This simply has to stop. The negativity it is creating in your home is not healthy, and it is making home life unhappy for everyone involved.  

Talk with them together about your plan to intervene. Perhaps they will agree to it and the consequences you establish. These consequences can be a simple apology followed by doing a chore together. You can either implement this part of the plan immediately or wait until some of the mutual activities mentioned above have taken place.


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