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5 Most Damaging Things Fathers say to their Sons

Things fathers say to their sons
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The father son relationship is such a special one. It moulds a boy into the kind of man he will become and can teach a dad a few things too. A father’s impact on his son can be felt for generations down the line. This is why the things fathers say to their sons is so important. 

The things that fathers say to their sons should boost their emotional and mental wellbeing and prompt them to boost others’ as well. In this post, we will consider some of the most meaningful things that fathers should say to their sons. 


First, though, why is it that the father son relationship can be so troubled at times? There are some sons who would go so far as to call their fathers ‘mean’.

things fathers say to their sons

Why are fathers mean to their sons? – 9 Reasons 

Certainly, it may be true that some fathers are plain mean to their sons. Some of the reasons for that are below. However, it is also possible that the reason for a father being harsh or hard on their son stems from something else and simply comes of meanness when it is not intended that way.

Here are a few reasons why some dads seem to be mean to their sons:

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  • Fathers who have unnecessarily high expectations of their sons can be mean to them when those expectations are not met.
  • When a father and son are very similar to each other, they may have a difficult relationship. The dad may see all the parts of himself that he dislikes in his son. This might cause him to treat his son badly. 
  • Perceived meanness can sometimes come from dads wanting to make sure that their sons do not make the same mistakes that they made. They may think being mean to them is the most effective way to achieve that.
  • Fathers who expect to see their sons behave in a very ‘manly’ way at all times might feel disappointed in them and be mean to them if they believe them to be exhibiting ‘feminine’ traits.

READ: Preventing toxic masculinity at home

toxic masculinity
  • Some dads think that being mean to their sons will prepare them or steel them for how wicked the world can be sometimes.
  • As sons get older, they might start to challenge the values taught to them by their fathers and this could also lead to hostility from dads.
  • Dads know the difficulties involved in being a boy and growing into a man. Being ‘mean’ might be their way of preparing their sons for those difficulties.

READ: Growing up with narcissistic parents

deal with a mom who is a narcissist
  • If a dad is a narcissist, he may be unable to show any real love to his son and may actually be mean to him.
  • When a dad has faced childhood trauma himself and that included being treated badly by his own father, he is likely to inflict that same trauma on his son.

Childhood trauma is one of those things that can give a father a negative view of the world. That negative view is then transferred to the son sometimes through the words used. In looking at the things that fathers say to sons, we can also consider the things a father should never say to his son.

READ: Childhood trauma – Signs, Symptoms and Treatments


5 Things a father should never say to his son

  1. “You’re the man of the house.” This might be more responsibility than any son is ready for or can handle. It may sound to him like his father is washing his hands of his fatherly duties as well which can introduce feelings of abandonment.
  2. “You are too sensitive.” Different people have different kinds of personalities and things that they are sensitive to. Fathers should never make their sons feel bad for being aware of their emotions and reacting to certain situations. Statements like this also make it difficult for boys to be emotionally vulnerable which does not bode well for their ability to form real relationships with others.
  3. “That’s only for girls.” This statement immediately establishes to a boy that in order to be a male or a man, he must suppress parts of himself. It is unfair  as it means that he does not get to explore the world fully and truly figure out what his likes and dislikes are. For example, if a father tells his son that being in the kitchen is only for girls, that boy might never discover a passion for cooking or baking. 
  4. “I wish you were more like…” A father comparing his son to someone else, whether it is a sibling or someone else, just tells the son that his father is disappointed in who he is. Sons need their father’s encouragement rather than expressions of their disappointment in them. 
  5. “Stop crying.” Fathers need to be able to encourage their sons to feel and express the entire range of emotions that every human being feels and in a safe way. That range of emotions includes crying. Not allowing boys to cry freely forces them to internalize their emotions and this is bad for their mental health. 
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5 Things fathers should say to their sons

  • It’s okay to cry. Following on from above then, it is important for dads to let their sons know that it is perfectly okay to cry. It is normal and not something that only females do.
  • I love you. Sons need to know that their father loves them and are comfortable telling them so.
  • I believe in you. This helps to boost a son’s own belief in himself. Knowing that his dad is rooting for him encourages him to aim for higher heights.
  • I am proud of you. Dads need to recognize their sons’ successes frequently. They need to acknowledge their achievements and let them know how proud they are of them. They also need to make sure their sons know that they are proud of them even when they do not achieve the things they aim for.
  • I’m sorry. Being able to apologize to others when you are wrong is important in daily life but specifically for maintaining healthy relationships. Dads should be able to model this behaviour for their sons by apologizing to them when they are in the wrong or have in some way disappointed their sons. 
  • I enjoy you. Father son bonding includes time to have fun together. In that time and after, sons need to be made aware that their fathers are not simply obligated to spend time with them. They should feel like their fathers actually like to spend time with them. This is why it is important for a son to know that his father enjoys being with him and having him as a son. It is not just a father son relationship but also a human-to-human relationship.

What do you think is the most important thing for a dad to be able to say to his son?

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8 thoughts on “5 Most Damaging Things Fathers say to their Sons”

  1. This post is such a great post. I find that we have to be so careful with our boys. If we keep pushing them to man up and such, it’s like there’s a disconnect from emotion when they get older. Love love love this post.

    1. Kin Unplugged

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read it!

    1. Kin Unplugged

      So true. Thanks for reading.

  2. You hit the nail on the head with this blog post. Words from parents, father or mother can break or make a child in many different ways. Hospitals should share your blogs with families that give birth. Your blog could change many father’s mindset.

  3. Predrag Kovačević

    Lovely post. I agree with most of the phrases. But, I think that you need to tell your son if he is more sensitive than others. He should be aware of that but in a positive way. And you should help him to channel that sensitivity in the right direction. Also, children can cry for the wrong reasons, to avoid punishment or to get what they want. That must be stopped while they are little, or you will have a monster when he grows up.

  4. We need fathers to play their roles better especially in this day and age. Thank you for this!

  5. Pingback: Is the cry it out method harmful? - Kin Unplugged

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