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The father / son thing

02 Jan 00 - 03:43 PM (#157057)
Subject: The father / son thing
From: jabjo

For better or worse, this Christmas / New Year has had me wondering about what, perhaps, should be one of my life's closest relationships.

It isn't. I'm the son. I try my best, and perhaps I'm hoping for more than I should. I just phoned my dad and managed to say thanks for everything that he'd done for me over the last 35 years. I'm sure he'd have been touched if I told him that I loved him. I didn't, we don't do that...

We live our own lives, but (maybe I've watched too many movies) it would be great to do something meaningful (that had a meaning to both of us) together.

Unfortunataly, I don't think that will ever happen.


02 Jan 00 - 04:08 PM (#157067)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: reeebop

i guess you'd call this the mother/daughter thing...but i'm 20 and have been living out of my mothers house since i was 15. we had been making plans for my partner and i to visit her place over christmastime for quite a while and about two days before we were going to leave she called up our apartment and said some rude things to my partner. next thing i knew my mother was telling me that she didn't want me to come visit if i brought her with me. i didn't know what to do so i waited until the morning of christmas eve and couldn't take it any longer. i just got us packed up and onto the next train out. when my mother saw me at the door she just started crying and i did too. we sat for a while and talked and tried to get things together between us. then she asked me where my partner was and i told her "waiting at the diner down the street" and she was like --what are we waiting for? let's go join her. and so we all sat together and tried to reconcile all of our differences and spent the whole night (which was christmas eve) drinking coffee and sharing stories from the last five years...

i guess what i'm trying to say is that anything is possible and that familiy is familiy.

well, i was my mother who proclaimed right before she burst into tears and started apologizing "CHRISTMAS WISHES CAN COME TRUE"

02 Jan 00 - 04:09 PM (#157068)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: wildlone

I am sorry to hear you can't say those three simple little words,I lost the man I had known all my life as my Father 5 years ago. He was my adoptive father he met my mother when I was 18 months old and adopted me when I was 11. Now to me that was love.Jabjo try it.

02 Jan 00 - 04:41 PM (#157082)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: Marymac90

Dear Jabjo, I, too, had a very difficult relationship with my father, who died last Feb. He and my mother separated when I was a baby, and he never gave me her letters, or put me on the phone when she called. He was always slow to praise, quick to criticize. He was very controlling for most of his life, very judgemental all his life. When I was young, he often was verbally or emotionally abusive, sometimes physically abusive as well.

He seemed focussed on concrete things, like grades, or jobs and money. I separated from my ex 25 years ago, and he never asked me if I was lonely, or had found anyone else to date, let alone to love. He made a habit of not telling me things, for fear that they'd "worry" me, so he didn't tell me one of the times when he was hospitalized for a heart attack, or when his brother, my uncle, died.

The last 10 years of his life he lived with his long-time lady friend, and he let her control his use of the telephone-he never called me again in his life. He also never came to visit me anymore. She wouldn't let me visit him in the apt. they shared, so I'd have to stay in a motel, and visit him for a few hours a day at a Burger King. She wouldn't even call me when he died-she called a funeral director, who called my aunt, who called me.

I eventually realized he wasn't going to spontaneously tell me he loved me, so I began telling him. The best response he usually gave was "Me, too", which was a little better than "Ummhmm". One time I was emotional when I confronted him about how unsatisfied I was with our relationship. He was so nervous and scared, he had to go to the bathroom for a while. When he came back, he wanted to sit outside, so I would be unlikely to cry any more, lest people see.

I don't have too much advice to give you, but I'll try to give you a little. Therapy helps. Don't wait for him to say "I love you"-go ahead and say it first. Try to get to spend time alone talking with him. Push for a better relationship now, before his mind or his body start to falter. Try taking him to a meaningful movie about fathers and sons, and talking about it with him afterward. Keep remembering, and reminding him, of what meaningful things you did together when you were young. My dad instilled me with my love of nature, despite whatever other rotten stuff happened.

Surround yourself with a caring community of friends and loved ones that you can share support with, and be emotionally open with. Don't expect him, or your spouse, or any one person, to meet all your emotional needs. Realize you're not alone-most other people don't come from perfect families, either.

Much Love,

Mary Mccaffrey

02 Jan 00 - 04:49 PM (#157086)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: emily rain

make no mistake: saying i love you is not simple. it takes courage to say it where it hasn't been said before. and saying you want to spend more time together can be just as hard. you've already found the place inside you that wants to say it; sometimes the place that is able to say it is right next door...

02 Jan 00 - 05:11 PM (#157092)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: JenEllen

I'm wondering if this isn't romanticized a little bit. There are two people in the relationship, and if it's not working, BOTH of you need to be willing to work it out. I was (am) in the same boat as Mary, except my mother died when I was 8. For years I've tried to help my father over the barriers to a closer family relationship. On his last visit this fall, I realized that it was too much of a strain on me to try and keep up both ends of a relationship when the deepest topic of conversation was the weather.

The important thing Jabjo, is you take care of yourself. Let your father know the doors are open, and don't expect more than he is willing to give. In fact, relish the fact that he is still here, even in his curmedgeonliness, to give you grief. When you are the best person that you can be, it often will encourage those around you to do the same. Take care, Elle

02 Jan 00 - 05:15 PM (#157095)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: jabjo


That's lovely.

I would love that we could do something together, but I guess we may never....

02 Jan 00 - 07:08 PM (#157128)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: DougR

It saddens me to read some of the replies to this thread. I had such a wonderful relationship with my dad and though he died almost fifty years ago, I still think about him a lot. As great as it was, however, I don't remember him ever telling me he loved me. But I knew he did. It was just something that I knew. I never hesitated to tell him I loved him though. My children, who are all grown now, and I have a wonderful loving relationship. My two girls find it easier to say, "I love you" than my son does and they say it far more often, but he says it too. I don't hesitate for a minute to say "I love you" to them and I tell them often. My mother was very affectionate and that probably accounts for the way I am. My wife was not raised in an affectionate home and she, therefore, found it difficult to show affection. As in the case of me and my dad, our kids just "knew" their mother loved them.

I wish I had sage words of advice to offer. A frank attempt to convey your feelings to your father is certainly worth trying. Some people obviously have great difficulty expressing their feelings to another person related or not.

I think everyone needs to love and be loved. I hope that you are able to find a way to give itm and to receive it from your dad.



02 Jan 00 - 07:34 PM (#157138)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: katlaughing

Jabjo, have you tried writing your feelings out for him to read in a letter? I feel very fortunate that I knew both of my parents loved us kids very much and both were quite willing to tell us. Mom died last January, but dad is still here and we never ring off without telling each other that we love one another. My kids and I do the same thing.

Sometimes, though, after I moved away for ten years and came back, I think my mother tried too hard or wasn't quite sure how to be with her all-grown up *baby*. I was a little uncomfortable, sometimes, when she would express her feelings, in person. She was raised fairly Victorian and I think some of that came to the forefront in her last couple of years. She and I began to communicate better by telephone and in writing than when together. We would talk for hours about the most profound subjects, death, god, religion, spirituality, politics, history, family dynamics, etc. She was always full of praise for me and saved the letters I wrote to her.

When I started writing my columns for real, she became my sounding board, hearing and critiquing every one of them before they went to print. The hardest thing I ever had to write and that she never got to read, but which I am proudest of, was her obituary. While I am content in knowing that she and I made peace and said most of the things we needed to to one another, I still would give anything to have had her here this weekend just to share the momentous events of New Years. She would have loved it.

I guess what I am trying to say is, try....if you can't say it, write it. If you can't bring yourself to send it, put it away for a few days, get it out and reread it, then send it or change it, but just do your best to communicate. If he is able, he will respond; if not, you will know that you did your best.


02 Jan 00 - 08:48 PM (#157162)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: DougR


Excellent suggestion.


02 Jan 00 - 08:50 PM (#157164)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: McGrath of Harlow

I don't think words matter too much. Like Doug, I can't ever remember my father saying "I love you" to me. And I don't know if I ever said it to him. And the same goes for my adult son.

But that doesn't mean there was ever any doubt about the feelings involved. It's a convention of reticence, which I don't think is anything to be ashamed of. And I don't think it's a particularly male thing either.

So I'd say to someone who was going to see my father or my son "give him my love", and I'd happily put "love" at the bottom of a letter - but face to face saying "I love you", that just didn't and doesn't feel right. It'd feel like one was trying to pass some kind of test, an ordeal to be gone through. The toes start curling at the thought.

So I'm afraid, I'm happy to send my love to all you Mudcatters (well, pretty well all) - but I'm not going to go writing things like "I really love you people." It's a cultural thing. With a surname like McGrath, six consonents and only one vowel, I'm probably part Klingon anyway.

All this I think is largely irrelevant to the difficulties that arise in relationships between fathers and sons, and probably mothers and daughters. Inevitably there's an element of rivalry and conflict here, even alongside great love. I think the best way of getting round this is to be involved in some shared project or task.

For some people music can be such a shared project. But in some cases music can be the very place where conflict arises, the place where independent identities are defined.

My impression is that young folkies fall into two categories - those who are following in the pattern set by their parents. And those who are into the music in reaction against parents who have very different musical preferences.

02 Jan 00 - 08:52 PM (#157165)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: katlaughing

Thanks, DougeR, I appreciate it. I forgot to say I'd also give anything just to have another of those long phone calls with her, again. I am grateful my dad and I still can.


02 Jan 00 - 09:12 PM (#157178)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: JenEllen

Jabjo; Hey, that's just me, spreading sunshine wherever I go. *bg* But really. Maybe the biological link isn't so important as the fact that you have people around you that care for you. One of my nearest and dearest is a 70+ year old Scottish fart that was in WW2 with my grampa. He's been friend, surrogate father, big brother, whatever, and is no relation other than mutual love. If you have people like that you can consider yourself lucky regardless of what life sends you. Elle

02 Jan 00 - 09:17 PM (#157183)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: _gargoyle

Sometimes LaughKat

feeling is....

MC paying you by the word. (0.20)

It ain't

02 Jan 00 - 09:18 PM (#157185)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: DougR

McGrath of Harlow: I can't disagree with a thing you wrote so well. Yes, Kat, we would all like to turn the clock back from time to time. Can't do that though. We just have to be grateful for what we had in those circumstances.

I do think your suggestion that Jabjo express his feelings in writing is excellent. Writing allows one to edit the message and that can be a definite advantage over face to face.


02 Jan 00 - 09:19 PM (#157186)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: McGrath of Harlow

Ah - the millennium bug strikes.

02 Jan 00 - 09:37 PM (#157200)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: _gargoyle

Dear Jabjo,

So VERY sorry, (it is either your father or you....and it is PROBABLY you) most sons, around age 28-30, have this wonderful experience of moving from "son" to "very good friends" with their fathers. Too bad you missed it.

If you don't have the relationship you want with him ... MOVE ON!!! Don't sweat it!!

(BTW) ... WHY DID YOU POST THIS IN A Music Folk/Blues Forum???

The web is full of great self-help sections, I can't recommend any, but perhaps KL and WW can....(then again, perhaps they can't .... both seem to both have WRONG impression of the DT/MC for fulfilling their angsts.) PLEASE contact through the MC "personal E-Mail section"....(there have concerns expressed about "Bandwidth")

((sort of like the guest that "plugs" the toilet and sneaks out the door))

Dearst LaughCat -

Sometimes in times of trouble, sister Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be, let it be!

02 Jan 00 - 09:45 PM (#157204)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: McGrath of Harlow

Doug R - I hasten to assure you that the millennium bug reference didn't apply to you - we crossed in the post so to speak.

02 Jan 00 - 09:45 PM (#157205)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: _gargoyle

Just curious ... mr. jabjo.....

What drew you to THIS place of the internet?

your postings are VERY similar to other misguided souls.

02 Jan 00 - 11:05 PM (#157261)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: emily rain

oh blah blah blah.

02 Jan 00 - 11:09 PM (#157263)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: _gargoyle

And Dearest Emily

What Drew You ?????

T0 this most twisted twrain?


02 Jan 00 - 11:29 PM (#157272)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: DougR

I realize that, McGrath of Harlow. Gargoyle finds pleasure, evidently, in trashing fellow Mudcatters. Perhaps this wasn't the appropriate forum for this thread, but Jabjo is obviously in a bit of pain and I, personally, could care less whether it is the appropriate forum or not. He felt he was discussing his feelings with people he trusted, people he considered to be friendly and Gargoyle's remarks should be taken for what they are worth. Nothing.


02 Jan 00 - 11:43 PM (#157279)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: Lonesome EJ

Interesting. Apparently dyslexia is a fitting topic for a Music Folk/Blues Forum, but father/son relationships are taboo. I wonder how one resolves such inconsistancies in one's behavior?

02 Jan 00 - 11:52 PM (#157283)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: _gargoyle

Ahhh.... a problem...that which ye thot,,,,father-son, is actually son-father.

The dyslexia thread is part of the creative process.

Now...if the "son" were "creative" or the "father" were creative either, could have been brought into the "process."

However, since, "neither," are being OR"either" are being ....their presense is questionable!

02 Jan 00 - 11:58 PM (#157288)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: Lonesome EJ

Define "the creative process",please, and how a dyslexia discussion is part of it.

03 Jan 00 - 12:18 AM (#157295)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: _gargoyle

Simple, Mr. ej...

Because our "perspective is peculiar" we are mistaken in our "words" and in our "deeds" as being "inciteful," "creative," "other-worldly," when in essence...

The "musical muse"

is part of our very "being" (our existence)....

we have no choice...the honor has been foisted upon us, and we choose to live with it...

..........................Blessing -------------------------------------or curse

However, the "Thread" is addressed to "MudCatters" of a similar curse...." friend's son, of a son's mother....etc...

it is a blessing to teach you "grasshopper"

03 Jan 00 - 01:18 AM (#157310)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: Lonesome EJ

Is it not possible that, just as the dyslexia thread offered common ground,understanding and help to those Mudcatters who suffer that affliction, the father/son thread might also offer help to those who suffer another type of affliction? That through helping jabjo with his pain and insecurity regarding his relationship with his father, others afflicted similarly might learn and grow as well?

How are you,gargoyle, qualified to make these discriminations about what does and doesn't constitute a part of the creative process? I believe that what you object to is the "personal pain" aspect of this thread- someone is crying the blues about a personal problem, and you don't want to know. But instead of ignoring it, the amazing thing about you is you insist on commenting on it, using your sarcasm and anger as a weapon.You accomplish nothing when you do it, except the alienation of people who might otherwise find you a sympathetic, or at least interesting, character.

I have to say one thing,though. I do appreciate the dialogue, For too long you have had the nasty habit of attacking someone verbally,seemingly without provocation, and then disappearing. Maybe in future you will stand and defend your position, if your position is tenable.

(my apologies to jabjo and others for diverting this very interesting thread)LEJ

03 Jan 00 - 02:02 AM (#157316)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: JenEllen

Have to disagree with ya Garg. How can the day-to-day functions of life NOT affect the creative process? Jabjo's got some issues with the pater, this can ultimately hinder or influence his creativity. So can being constipated, or winning the lottery, whatever. The BS threads just allow folks a chance to exercise the demons they want to hold on to and exorcise those they don't. And Hamlet? Puh-leeez. "Why look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass: and there is MUCH MUSIC, excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot you make it speak. "Sblood, do you think that I am easier played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me you cannot play upon me."

03 Jan 00 - 04:44 AM (#157344)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: Liz the Squeak

Some of the greatest songs are written out of pain, a pain that usually starts close to home; a broken relationship, a sparsity of emotion or reluctance to show it. Sometimes you can only say what you mean in a song.

A lot of people were lucky enough to be surrounded by love when they grew up, and that has flowed over into their lives, but others were not so fortunate. How many great songs are there about a stable, constant and open relationship with anyone? Would Harry Chapin have had such a great hit with 'W.O.L.D.' or the one where his son wants to be just like him, if they had been happy stories? My father died 2 years ago, and it took my mother 2 weeks to realise that she did not have to listen to the same radio station again, because he forbade her to change the settings, and refused to listen to anything other than local radio. Those are the real life stories that make great music. Where would the blues be without them?

I am genuinely sorry that you didn't get to say those words to your father, if mine had been different, I may have wanted to tell him too. But actions do speak louder than words. If you can't tell them, show them. A simple act like helping him with a cup of tea was enough for my father, it turned out to be his last, and I couldn't do any more.


03 Jan 00 - 08:04 AM (#157357)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: Lanfranc

Music/blues is life = nothing's irrelevant.

Being a singer, at whatever level, if you're doing your job properly involves writing songs to express your feelings, or finding apposite songs by others to do the same.

My father was a redneck English bobby who once threw me out of the family home for wearing a red shirt. He never said he loved me - dammit he was British, wasn't he?

He's been dead thirty years, and when I think of him, I always wish I'd gone the extra nine yards to explain why a son with a promising career in Banking should throw it up to live in squalor in London in search of fortune and fame. Yes, I dropped out, and, after he died for no connected reason dropped back in again in most ways, and I think that he would probably be proud of what I've achieved since.

Nothing can be done now, except to ensure that mistakes aren't replicated - my wife and I have worked hard to keep a close relationship with both our daughters. Thus far, we seem to have succeeded, not without some pain, but with far more pleasure. Yes, we say "I love you" - and mean it.

"How can I try to explain? When I do he turns away again, It's always been the same, same old story. From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen .....

..... All the times that I've cried, keeping all the things I knew inside, It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it....."

Father and Son - Cat Stevens (Youssuf Islam)

"Honour thy Father and thy Mother, that thy days may be long ....."

03 Jan 00 - 12:33 PM (#157424)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: TerriM

I guess that most of our fathers were of a generation that didn't use the word love but showed it every day in commitment, hard work and sacrifice. Maybe instead of pining for what he can't give you, you could find a way to reflect on, and celebrate what he did do??

03 Jan 00 - 12:43 PM (#157426)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: Danlbear

My father passed away when I was 10. I always make sure I have some kind of picture taken of me during the course of the year, and that my kids get at least one hug sometime during the day. Those are the things that I didn't have the opportunity to recieve from my father.


03 Jan 00 - 12:55 PM (#157429)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: MMario

I was in my late twenties before my father ever said "I love you" to me. (that I could recall...and my recall goes back to at least the age of 3) BUT....I CAN honestly say there was never a doubt in my mind that he did, even during the years we couldn't remain in the same room for 5 minutes without having a fight. Never really knew how much I missed it until he DID say it. And will treasure any time he can bring himself to do so....@ 45 I can still count the number of times he has said it on one hand. Growing up in New England means he probably doesn't hear it as often from his sons as he does from his daughters, and less from them then people who live/grew up in other regions of the states and/or world....heck, I was in my thirties before my parent's kissed in front of "the kids"

03 Jan 00 - 02:31 PM (#157456)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: Name Witheld by Request (but a fellow 'Catter)

Anyone who has or had a good/great relationship with their father, I am envious of.

Sometimes you think you know, trust and love someone and then one day you wake up, everything is upside down and you know nothing.

I had a a very loving relationship with my Father growing up, from childhood, adolescence and adult years. Always there for me, emotionally, spiritually and even at times, financially.

Then one evening in the Fall of 1994, he came over to baby sit my 4 year old daughter (whom we had already taught about ''good touching'' and ''bad touching'') and the following day, when she woke up she was very upset and distraught, and informed us that her grandfather had (paraphrased) sexually molested her. (He didn't penetrate her, but had her sit on his naked lap.)

I was in utter shock and complete disbelief. I made her tell me the story (calmly) several times, over and over again, and there were certain elements of the story that a 4 year old just couldn't have made up (ie: Him telling her that if she told anyone what happened, her grandfather would go to jail.)

I was between a rock and a hard place emotionally -on the one hand, I didn't want to have my father arrested, and on the other I had an obligation to protect my child, and possibly other potential children within and outside of my family. My wife wanted him arrested immediately, and I could definitely understand but my head was just spinning at the time.

I confronted my father and he broke down and confessed, and said he should kill himself. (If I'd have had a gun I would have done it for him, then and there believe me.) I told him he had to get help, but there is a Catch 22 involved with the system here in Canada. You cannot get psychiatric counselling (for either father or daughter) without the practitioner report it and it going into ''the system'' for any sexual-related offence.

In the end, we were extremely lucky and found a close, family friend who happened to be a child psychologist and my daughter and my wife and I attended counselling sessions weekly for a year.....without it getting into the system.

Touch wood my daughter who is now 9, is fine....but who knows what the long term psychological effects of this experience will have on her, when she hits puberty, becomes sexually active and how she will relate to men in general.

As for my father, I consider that he died in 1994. I have nothing to do with him, and very little contact with my mother as she just didn't get it either, and never thought it was any big deal. (He never did get any professional help and my mother thinks it was an unfortunate, isolated incident.) Her biggest fear was that he would be arrested and that her reputation in her community would be ruined. She has stuck by my Father, which in and of itself amazes me. They have extremely limited and highly supervised contact with my kids at this point in time (they see them for a couple of hours at Christmas at our place and on their birthdays at our place,) and it is the same with my siblings and their children (as I informed them all at the time this scenario went down.) If my daughter should ever decide to tell any authorities about this, it's out of our hands, and my wife and I would never forbid her to discss it, although it seems to have been kept as an internal, private family matter so far.

It's amazing to me how something like this can totally anilhilate everything my father was to me, prior to 1994. All the good things and love he gave me, prior to this point in time, mean nothing to me now. He has defined himself in this incident to me, and the betrayal and level of sickness and perversion involved make him a complete stranger to me.

You think you know someone well? Think again. The experience has hardened my heart against people, and made it virtually impossible for me to trust anyone other than my wife, completely.

I am consumed with bitterness and contempt towards him, and I would rather let it eat me up till the day I die, than ever tell him I forgive him. I could have forgiven him for ANYTHING --except that. He robbed my child of her innocence. How do you forgive that?

(Just wanted to get this off my chest as I have never discussed it with anyone outside of my immediate family...and it felt good to do so....but please, Catter's out of respect to me, don't ask me questions and encourage an ongoing dialogue on this particular subject with me. I'm not going to comment on it beyond what I've written here.)

Thanks and God Bless all of you. Count your blessings every day.

06 Jan 00 - 09:55 PM (#159324)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: Stevie

(I can't believe no one here picked up on the above message!)

My heart goes out to you and your family, my friend, and for your feeling comfortable enough within this Mudcat community, to share something as deeply personal as the above.

06 Jan 00 - 11:27 PM (#159389)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing
From: Lenny

Stewie I'm not sure the person wanted a reply. What a dillema and how sad. It just kind of makes you speechless.

I think Cat Stevens' Father and Son touched so many people. I saw him sing it live and many in the audience were crying.


07 Jan 00 - 03:30 PM (#159651)
Subject: RE: The father / son thing