Leadership Coaching & Inspirational Speaking

Making father-son relationships more than just duty

Steve Core talks about how improving his relationship with his father was key to his long-term happiness.

The father-son relationship is the backbone of being happy for men.

I know from my own experience that before I mended my relationship with my dad, I was unhappy at work and struggled for years to pinpoint the exact problem.

Throughout my 20s and 30s I was a workaholic, but I was never happy. I worked under 13 different bosses at three companies and woke up and went to bed thinking about work, but I was never happy.

The worst part of living this frustrated, empty life was that I had no idea what the actual problem was until I realised that what was going on at work didn't really matter, as the issue was much closer to home - it was my struggles to maintain a relationship with my father stopping me from feeling complete.

Let me ask this question, do you have a great relationship with your father? If the answer is yes, count yourself very lucky. According to Steve Biddulph's book Manhood, the father-son relationship can be categorised into four stages:

  •  Three out of ten men don't have any sort of relationship with their father, despite the fact they are both still alive.
  • Three out of ten men have a very prickly relationship with their father, so when they are together one of them invariably gets angry.
  • Three out of ten men have a relationship built on duty - they see each other at birthdays, weddings and go to events together because they feel they have to.
  • Only one out of ten men say they have a great relationship with their father and say he's an emotional anchor in their life.

I find this very depressing, as it shows how so many relationships are being allowed to stagnate or collapse. Having coached hundreds of men one-to-one over the years, I know they are very loathe to open up about their fathers.

Another problem is that men in their 20s, 30s and 40s will give themselves a hard time about how bad their relationship with their father is, but they frequently overlook all of the good times.

But if we can just find the opportunity to talk to our fathers and develop an understanding of their lives, we can change everything. Imagine a world where even four out of ten men said their father was his emotional anchor?

Indeed, I firmly believe there are three phases to the father-son relationship:

  • When the son is young
  • When both father and son become independent and live their own lives
  • When they're older and they come back together

The problem is this third stage doesn't happen very often, as too many fathers and sons are going their own way and never reconnecting. This issue can be traced right back to before the Industrial Revolution, when fathers and sons would spend a lot of time together tending to crop fields, hunting or carrying out manual labour. But this rarely happens anymore, and relationships have suffered as a result. But men need to understand that they can improve their relationship, as long as they understand what their relationship is like with their father, and realise there is a better place to get to.

If we are deeply connected with our father, we can be connected with anyone. And trust me, this will have a huge impact on our lives. So with Father's Day looming, now is the perfect time to speak to your dad and see if you can't improve your relationship.

So if you want to know more about my own experience and how I mended my relationship with my father, check out my TEDx talk called 'A Story about Fatherhood'.

Click the image below to watch Steve’s ‘A Story About Fatherhood’ TEDx talk

A story about fatherhood  |  Steve Core

TEDxHult London

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