Parenting Expert Offers Groundbreaking Look at How Fathers and Sons Influence Each Other

Share Article

In his new book, "My Father Before Me: How Fathers and Sons Influence Each Other Throughout Their Lives," award-winning clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst Michael J. Diamond explains many of the emotional hurdles fathers and their adolescent sons grapple with as they age.

In his groundbreaking new book, "My Father Before Me: How Fathers and Sons Influence Each Other Throughout Their Lives" (W.W. Norton), award-winning clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst Michael J. Diamond (http://www.drmichaeljdiamond.com) explains many of the emotional hurdles fathers and their adolescent sons grapple with as they age. As Diamond attests, the father-son bond unavoidably changes radically during adolescence as fathers move from hero to fallen hero.

"During a boy's adolescence, his feelings about his father become more volatile and unpredictable," Diamond says. "Young teenage boys look up to their fathers, often idealize them, as they search for models to guide them through their identity confusion. The challenge for fathers and sons at this stage of development is to accept the idealization without taking it too much to heart, because soon enough, idealization turns into its opposite."

As teenage boys subsequently reach mid- and later adolescence, they often become much more critical of their fathers in their search for new heroes who may stand in stark contrast to their fathers. At the same time, Diamond explains, fathers themselves must deal with a myriad of their own issues, including the worries and discontents of middle age. Fathers of teenagers frequently find that they are no longer the "hero" of their son's universe and, in many cases, are struggling with the same issues of forging a new identity and differentiating from an earlier image of themselves, as their sons. "Many men find it difficult to admit to themselves their own failures as men," Diamond says. "Experiencing their sons' disdain, they often begin to question their own heroic stature, to consider their disappointments and thwarted ambitions. However painful, this kind of reflection can ultimately lead a man to create a more realistic and durable self-image."

In "My Father Before Me," Diamond offers a cogent and illuminating explanation of the father-son relationship and how both can cope with a wealth of emotional issues necessary for growth and development. Diamond also offers an illuminating and fresh perspective on not only how fathers influence their sons, but also how sons affect their fathers. Diamond firmly establishes fatherhood as an essential event for the emotional and intellectual development of all the men in a family while providing a model for understanding the intricacies of the father-son bond.

"Today, we recognize that fathers have a unique and essential role to play in raising children," Diamond says. "A father does not merely supplement what a mother does but complements her role. He has an important impact on his child deriving from his fatherliness, from the fact that he is a man, extending from the day of conception, beyond his own death, until the day his child dies. Because of various biological, cultural, and psychological factors, the relationship between fathers and sons is particularly intricate and complex."

Using case studies from his own practice and observations of father-son interactions, Diamond shows how fathers and sons are uniquely positioned to help one another through each of life's major transitions. He argues that sons without realizing it are largely responsible for helping their fathers embrace a more flexible notion of manhood, making them better partners and better parents. He also discusses the full arc of the father/son relationship including infancy, adolescence, young adulthood, and how fathers and sons reverse roles as fathers approach old age.

Michael J. Diamond, a prominent psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist who was recently named Distinguished Psychoanalyst of the Year by the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, lives and practices in Los Angeles. He is available for interviews from Los Angeles. http://www.drmichaeljdiamond.com

# # #

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Rob Nissen

973-410-1234
Email >
Visit website