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Fathers and sons - cold relationship as child

(11 Posts)
jamie000 Mon 14-Oct-13 15:52:32

I’ve just seen “About time”. (I will not give away the plot much). Ignoring the fact that most families are not super-upper-middle-class affairs where the kids all go to prep school and become lawyers and regularly go and visit their wise and loving parents in their big rambling pads on the Cornish coast, it did make me upset (as it was cynically calculated to do so).... Ok I admit it, I desperately wish I’d been born into that kind of family!

One of the last scenes shows the dad walking down the sand dunes onto the beach with his 8 (ish?) year old son for the last time (u have to see it to know why). The point is it brought back memories that I find difficult. My dad made it very clear that 1) don’t call me daddy and 2) never ever hold my hand. He wasn't a thug, quite the opposite, just a decent working-class bloke who was not prepared to show affection (he could do it other ways, like fixing a bicycle, building a tree house etc, tho these were usually on his own).

So, my question is how many people think it is normal for a father to not want to be called daddy (by a 5 yr old) or hold hands (I assure u I was 5, not 15!), or have a hug, and have as little contact as possible? Because I have always assumed it was me (I was cold or shy or something), and now I am beginning to think he may have been a bit ‘Aspergery’ for want of a better word, but I’m not sure now (this was the 70s). Did anyone else have a dad like this? As an aside, my mum was similar, not a single hug, but I was safe and well fed etc, but never felt confident and 'warm', just safe, which is a lot better than many i suppose.

Basically, I wanted to be the kid in the film with the loving dad holding hands and skimming stones, but perhaps that's just a load of old bollocks from richardcurtisland...

CMK86 Mon 14-Oct-13 16:01:00

I think you are on the right track when you say your Dad may have had Asperger's. It wasn't until the 90s that it was recognised as a psychological condition, so would certainly have been missed back in the 70s. My Dad thinks he had Aspergers when he was younger, and based on how cold his behaviour was at the time, I can certainly believe it. As children we tend to blame ourselves for anything our parents fail to provide for us, especially in terms of our emtional wellbeing - just remember that if wasn't your fault your father (and possibly your mother too) didn't show you enough affection. But if it's something that keeps bothering you, get some counselling - it can be really helpful and cathartic.

jamie000 Tue 15-Oct-13 09:17:43

I think my rambling question is the reason i got one reply, but thanks very much for that! smile I will repost as a concise question. Ta

fairisleknitter Tue 15-Oct-13 09:36:50

jamie, my parents never hugged us and we always called them Mum and Dad. They never enquired into our inner thoughts (nor did they push us or smother us!) but trusted us to find our own way. It seems to me a certain type of 60's / 70's upbringing. We children instigated hugs as adults.

I had however a good atmosphere to grow up in with plenty of kindness shown in other ways and a sort of hands-off trust that I often think is missing from more middle-class homes where the parents dominate the agenda.

Personally I find richardcurtisland alienating! But I do choose to be more overtly warm with our children and spend more time with them.

moldingsunbeams Tue 15-Oct-13 09:46:49

I do not ever remember my dad hugging me or such either, as a child he was poorly and knackered from long hours of working, he was exhausted and did not really play with me.

I must admit when dd was very little I did feel the odd stab of jealousy of the relationship he and dd have, he is very hands on and cuddly with her and plays with her all the time. I never had that.

Its not you jamie000, its him.

Can't abide any Richard Curtis films either, they are schmaltzy crapola!.

DHs father was and remains a cold emotionally unavailable individual who never hugged either of his children. His wife was of a similar nature but did more of the day to day caring stuff.

His dad was himself raised by a parent who behaved the same. DHs father is not on the ASD spectrum either. We learn about relationships first and foremost from our parents, what if anything do you know about your Dads family and childhood?. It likely all stems from those times, attitudes also were very different years ago.

DHs relationship with his dad now is practically non existent on any level; he has had to find other male role models.

jamie000 Wed 16-Oct-13 11:46:46

Thank you very much for the feedback. Our house wasn't a good atmosphere, one of unsaid rules about what we could and couldn't say (my Mum was a depressive/highly strung and easily upset) and as I said, my Dad was very cool... I was just prompted to think about this after that stupid film. But there's no way round it, he was and is completely isolated in his own world, and never esquires into mine nor ever had any help or advice when it was clear I needed it. Oh well, no more richardcurtis land for me!
Thanks

merlincat Wed 16-Oct-13 12:20:30

Just an aside, my dad has Aspergers as did my Fil; my Dad is loving and warm, Fil was nasty and robotic. My Dd1 is Aspie and the sweetest, kindest person I've ever known. As they say 'when you've met one person with Aspergers, you've met one person with Aspergers'. HTH.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 16-Oct-13 12:28:11

(You've posted roughly the same thread twice so I'll copy my answer)

What you're describing is what I'd call a 'Victorian Father'. I think they love their kids but they don't know how to relate to children. In their eyes caring for children in a practical sense and any emotional/tactile/'mushy' stuff (hugs chatting and silliness) is the womenfolk's department and they see their role as to put bread on the table, fix bikes & maintain a certain distance until the child is old enough to have a serious conversation with. Generations of people used to grow up with Dads like that and it's thankfully gone out of fashion but, if your Dad was raised by a Victorian Father himself (or a Victorian Mother with a nanny) , then that would be the only model he had to work on.

jamie000 Fri 18-Oct-13 10:50:50

I've come to think that Aspergers in an excuse that we all make for certain people. Narcissistic is probably more accurate for many of the more unpleasant 'aspy' types.

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