Why Do Some Fathers & Sons Not Get Along?

The relationship between a male and his father is one of the building blocks for the son's emotional stability later in life. According to a study by California State University-Fullerton, men that had positive childhood relationships with their fathers are more able to handle stress and emotional distress later in life than those that didn't.

Unfortunately, not every male enjoys a nurturing, positive relationship with his father. There are a variety of reasons why some fathers and sons don't get along.

The Apple and the Tree

The popular saying, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree," isn't always true. And even when it is, that doesn't always mean dad and son will always see eye to eye. Some sons are simply the polar opposites of their fathers, resulting sometimes in feelings of disappointment on the father's side and rejection on the son's end.

And in those cases where the son is a reincarnation of his father personality-wise, that doesn't guarantee a jovial relationship. This relates largely to the longstanding theory that the flaws you're most annoyed by in others are the ones you also possess.


Father and Son talking over workbench in garage

How Do I Help My Son Who Is a Cross-Dresser?

Learn More

Divorce is another factor that can strain, and even destroy, the relationship between a father and son. According to "The Custody Evaluation Handbook" by Barry Bricklin, Ph.D., males whose parents divorced are three times more likely than their female counterparts to grow up maladjusted and aggressive-insecure. This, naturally, can lead to strained relationships between fathers and sons, especially when the son feels the father is somehow at fault for the deterioration of the family unit.


While many boys idolize their fathers, that can change once the teenage years arrive. That's the stage during which a young male is attempting to form his own identity. Rebellion again authority—often one's parents—is common, and clash often ensues. This, however, often changes as the son matures and comes to realize that he didn't, in fact, know everything, and begins to realize his father was right about a lot more than he'd realized as an adolescent.

Absent Fathers

Father and Son talking over workbench in garage

Child Rearing Beliefs & Practices in Indian Culture

Learn More

If you grew up without your father living with you or playing a significant role in your life, you know the reconciliation can be difficult. Though many absentee fathers attempt to reunite with their sons later in life, there's often awkwardness between the two and the sons often hold a grudge. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, children in fatherless homes are five times more likely to be poor than are other children. And the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that children with absentee fathers are far more likely to abuse substances.

Mending the Rift

Even with the problems that exist between fathers and sons, there are always opportunities to improve these relationships.

By sharing in activities or even simply spending time together, fathers and sons can learn to overcome their differences. It may take time, but father-son relationships do not always have to be on bad terms.