Father and son relationships can be challenging at times. Being there for a friend who feels his dad hates him can help him process his feelings in healthy ways. Although your relationship with your father may be positive, your friend and his father may have difficulty expressing how they truly feel about one another. This can result in alienation from the other person. Help your friend get to the heart of the issue to improve his relationship with his father.
Sometimes the problem is a lack of communication. Sons and fathers may have little time for quality conversation. If your friend thinks his dad hates him, encourage him to make time to communicate with his father. Talking over coffee or dinner, composing an email or sending a text are all ways to get the conversation started. Lane Community College’s Community Center for Family Counseling in Oregon suggests that mutual respect is key to improving parent and child relationships. Quality communication increases mutual respect as people learn to understand each other better.
Find Common Ground
Help your friend look for places where he and his father share common ground. Encourage your friend to bring up subjects he and his father both enjoy. In this way they can discover shared experiences that might bring them closer. Stay away from topics that cause conflict, recommends Phil McGraw, psychologist, in the article, "Rebuilding a Parent/Child Relationship," on his website. That way your friend and his dad can get accustomed to being together without arguing.
Sometimes family members need an opportunity to start over in their relationships. This can be true of your friend and his dad. Each person may have said or done things they regret, and both feel responsible for the bad feelings. Encouraging your friend to find a counselor or therapist may be the best way to help son and father start fresh. McGraw encourages parents and their children to renegotiate the relationship by setting new boundaries and moving forward. A qualified family therapist or counselor can help them do just that.
Adapt to Change
Fathers and sons often find themselves in conflict during times of change. Moving from childhood to adolescence to adulthood can be a minefield when it comes to father/son relationships. Remind your friend that his dad may no longer know the role he plays in his son’s life. A father goes from provider to mentor to friend, and understanding that each new stage brings new challenges can help fathers and sons accept each other.
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