Why Fathers And Children Don’t Get Along

My next book is a departure and a risk. If you want to understand why, read the goal of my life explained.

I’ve been asking questions about fathers and sons my entire life, which makes it no surprise I’ve had a difficult relationship with my father. He is not an easy man to know, but as a child I didn’t know this. And as it is with all families, you can only see your family for what it is once you leave it and look back. It wasn’t until my twenties, when I moved away and started my own life, that I began to understand both myself and my father  and began the work of unpacking our relationship, as broken as it was. So many of the feelings I had about myself weren’t really mine, but feelings I learned to have to try and fit into his world.

My next book, titled The Ghost of My Father, is about this relationship. Particularly the events of the last two years where he, at the age of 70, has chosen to abandon his family. It seems he was never quite happy with his life, or with us, observations he never shared until this last chapter where he tried to move away and start a new life. He had an affair once before while I was a child, with disastrous consequences for the family. And now I find waves of memories, feelings and thoughts from that time have been brought back to the present, memories and feelings that demand being reckoned with.

We think memory is stable, but all my memories of my childhood have shifted dramatically. Different stories from my past now seem far more important, and ones I thought were important now don’t seem to matter at all. I’ve returned to my journals, sifting through to look for more insight into why these memories are with me now, and others are not.

“Memory seems to be an independent creature inspired by event, not faithful to it. Maybe memory is what the mind does with it’s free time, decorating itself. Maybe it’s like cave paintings. The thing is, I’m old enough now to know that the past is every bit as unpredictable as the future, and that memory, mine anyway, is not a faithful recording of anything, and truth is not an absolute.”  – Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir

Last night I watched the film The Return, about a father who returns to his two young boys from a mysterious ten year disappearance. There was something epic about the tones of the film and how fathers factor in many children’s minds as a powerful, ambiguous, possibly unknowable creatures. Certainly not all fathers are like this, but many are. And few of us have the courage to dig into the hard ground of our childhoods, despite our disappointments with our parents, to sort out who we are and who we want to be now that we’re not children anymore.

This 6th book will be my most personal one so far.

  1. If you want to be notified when the book is out, signup here.
  2. You can read more posts about the book.
  3. If you’re interested in this book, leave a brief comment (“I’m interested – go Scott!” works fine). I’ll be in touch as the book develops and is published. This blog won’t be shifting to be primarily about this project, so leaving a comment makes it easy to stay in touch with you.
  4. And of course films, books, and other stories you recommend I read are welcome too.
  5. If you have a related story to share about your relationship with your father, good or bad, I’d be grateful if you left a comment or sent me an email.

141 Responses to “Why Fathers And Children Don’t Get Along”

  1. Mickie

    Definitely looks like your best yet dude! Please let us know when this comes out, I want to buy/read it asap!

    :) Keep the faith!

  2. Steve Portigal

    I missed this original announcement. Congrats on the project and the journey (and the divergence from your previous work).

    I got the call sometime in the past 18 months (I couldn’t tell you more precisely than that, it might have been longer, I’m not even sure) – the one I had been waiting for since I was a teenager. My long-estranged father was dead. In fact, the call came to my sister, from some social services or government agency that had absolutely no information about the man and was looking through phone directories across Canada until they found another Portigal. It had been a while til they could even find her…

    1. lis

      do you think you have other brothers or sisters out there that you don’t know?

    1. diana

      You know what my dad was not there for me i love my dad my dad mother took care off me i did not like that my kids dont know him my kids tell me he was not there for us all he thank about is women he lay up with my best friend. Sew i had to take care of my kids for years me was not a farther or grandfarther some times i fell why did you have me my mother was not there for me il say farther all ways de there for your kids kids never for get my son say why my dad went to be in my life now im a man he say mom. he never there for me i well never if i have a kid i went do that that just like if that not your kid you still have to care that just if you care about the mother and love her you have to love then and they well love you as a dad then thay know you care and love them ass well and farther need to and mother spend time with your kid me and my kids have a bond we talk about every thing life they know they can talk my son say he not my farther he was not a farther to me i try to get to know him mon i dont my son is a man now very good looking he has his own place he work and have two jobs and i very happy that he came out good i had to care for my kids farther and mother love your it makeing them to a good men and women when they little just get along diana mccall

  3. CS

    Best of luck on this important project.

  4. Veronica

    Definitely interested! Looking forward to it, please notify when it will be out!

  5. Heather

    Great and important topic. I am watching my husband try to unpack his relationship with his father, who is still living. It is sad to me that my husband has nobody he feels he can talk to about the complex feelings involved. I have a lot of friends I can turn to to share stories or look for insights into my relationships with my parents, but he doesn’t have the same support structure, and needs it. I can’t wait for the book!

    1. Scott

      Thanks Heather – most men can use role models for talking about their feelings. I can’t say I have it all sorted out but I’ve learned how important it is to seek out friendships were I can be vulnerable.

  6. Emilio

    Reading your post immediately came to my mind the book, OBLIVION, A MEMOIR, written by Colombian Hector Abad which I strongly recommend. The theme of father-son-family relationships is universal and it is always very difficult to describe with its ups and downs. This book is superb and worth to read it. You can find the English Edition at Amazon here: http://j.mp/SqXovd
    About the cover, as I just said that every family relationships have ups and downs, I would suggest Concept E in black and white or gray scales but with a real photograph.
    Of course, please notify when the book is out.

  7. Damon

    Scott, I am definitely interested in reading your book. I think every son goes through stages on how they view their father, which in turn drives certain interactions they have with them. It’s interesting because I did a thought exercise/analysis one time to see if I can remember different stages of how I felt about my father. I could remember when he was my protector, friend, teacher, advisory, enemy, disciplinarian, my motivation, picture on my dart board, etc. The interesting part of this thought exercise was my memories of my own reactions and how they affected my thought and actions today. But the most impactful memory was at the point I realized he was human, he makes mistakes, he has baggage from his life. Which gave me a kind of freedom not to be mad with him and except him as he was.


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