I have four children; three boys and a girl. The firstborn is a boy now aged 14 and the relationship between him and his father has over the last couple of years gone sour. His father has developed this habit of beating him even when he has done nothing wrong.
He keeps complaining that the boy has never impressed him since his childhood and that he is good for nothing. The boy has withdrawn from his father and prefers to keep to himself most of the time, even in school. He seems to have lost his self esteem and it hurts me too.
My husband is usually harsh on anyone who criticises him and his ways of bringing up his children. Please advise on what I can do to help him?
What the readers say:
This is a tricky situation you are in and the sooner you act, the better. You need to understand your husband’s perspective on the whole matter, what does he think the boy is doing wrong or not doing? Why so much hatred for his son? If the situation calls for a specialist, go for it sooner.
Such cases mostly happen when a man isn’t very certain whether they are the child’s father. Your husband has his own reasons which could be or not be valid. You need to intervene and get to the bottom of the matter before it’s too late.
My first advice is talk to your husband first to find out the wrong the child could have done to the father and then talk to your child maybe he is disrespectful to his father. Second, please note that your son needs counselling urgently before he gets into depression. Thirdly, if the boy was born of another man, then either find a way of reconciling the differences between the two or separate them completely.
Correctional and objective discipline is not only good and healthy for children but it is also necessary for proper development and wellbeing of children in their future lives as they develop into adulthood.
This is because children cannot be left to shape their own behaviour and do what they think is right so they often require guidance, some of which may be administered through dialogue and when dialogue does not seem to work (as it will sometimes not work), then physical discipline is administered.
In the ideal family set-up, it is primarily the responsibility of the father to take the lead in disciplinary matters, generally for all children but more importantly for boys. However, administration of discipline ought to be carefully managed to ensure that it remains balanced and that it achieves the desired goals.
Too much leniency on discipline will often lead to contempt and breed indiscipline in children on one hand while excessive forms of discipline generally interfere with the child’s psychology and developmental processes and can actually work against the parents and the desired goals. Discipline helps children appreciate authority, leanr to live within certain frameworks (rules) and helps them to co-exist with others as they develop into teenage through to adulthood.
Despite its critical importance, administration of discipline on children has to be carefully managed as this has potential to either positively build or permanently destroy the child in question. What your husband is doing goes against all principles of disciplining a child and he has by now interfered with that boy’s development.
Since he will not listen to you, this is a matter that ought to be reported immediately to the children’s department within the department of social services in your county. They are better placed to summon him and provide guidance on how discipline should be administered. Further to this, the young man will need counselling services from a competent children’s counsellor to help him find his self-esteem and confidence. This will not be successful if his father continues with what he is doing and as such they may need to be separated for a while.
Lastly, from your description, there seems to be some prevailing irreconcilable differences between him and that young boy which you ought to carefully look into. These could range from paternity questions, underlying perceptions about the boy or about you among other things. He will also need to be part of the counselling process so that you can harmonise issues and get a lasting solution to this.
Simon is a relationships counsellor
Adolescent and teenage is a challenging period for both the teenager and the parents. However, the conflict between your husband and your son seems to have started earlier. There could be many underlying reasons to this.
One could be because the boy is a first born and sometimes parents have unreasonably high expectations for their first borns. This can make them to consciously or unconsciously exert to much pressure on their children. In such cases the parent becomes over demanding and imposes standards way above the child’s age and level.
The demands could range from behavioural, to academics to religious involvement. While it is commendable for parents to push their children to attain their full potential, sometimes they can go off balance. Unlike wanting the best for one’s children, this kind of parent will never be impressed. No amount of effort is good enough. In the long run it leaves a drained, demotivated child and a disappointed parent.
The second reason could be that your husband is projecting. Projection is the tendency to blame or assign to another person qualities, attitudes, thoughts or feelings present in oneself. In this case your husband has unresolved childhood struggles, particularly feelings of inadequacy. So he is projecting this to his son. The reason why he sees nothing good in the boy. This also explains why he cannot stand criticism.
As the wife and mother you can help by encouraging both of you to attend parenting lessons which might make it easier for him to seek counselling for his inner struggles. If this does not happen then have your son counselled. Without being disrespectful let your son know that all the negative comments from the father are not necessarily true. Counter the negatives by constantly affirming your son. Speak and call out the greatness in him.
Hilda Boke Mahare has a background in Counselling Psychology and loves to share her knowledge in matters of life and relationships.
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