Are adult negativity or resentment related to an infant crying for attention?

Are adult negativity or resentment related to an infant crying for attention?

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I've recently came across an idea, expressed by a spiritual author Ekhart Tolle, that for adults, the internal experience of negativity or resistance to life situations can be far more harmful than the situation itself. Typically a person cannot take immediate action to resolve such situation.

For example, a loud car alarm outside interrupts some activity. A person may become focused on how inconvenient it is to hear this alarm, and start thinking negative thoughts, like"I can't believe that jerk has such a loud alarm on that a piece of junk car. Who would steal such a thing? I wish someone would put a brick though his windshield".

This got me thinking - What is the process by which negativity or resentment to situations arise in a person? The scenario of a crying infant came to mind - a baby cries to express some discomfort and frustration at a situation that the baby cannot fix himself. Are adult resentment and infant crying using the same pathways in the brain?

Depressive symptoms in early pregnancy disrupt attentional processing of infant emotion

Growing evidence suggests that perinatal depression is associated with disrupted mother–infant interactions and poor infant outcomes. Antenatal depression may play a key role in this cycle by disrupting the development of a maternal response to infant stimuli. The current study therefore investigated the impact of depressive symptoms on the basic cognitive processing of infant stimuli at the beginning of pregnancy.

A total of 101 women were recruited by community midwives and tested at an average gestation of 11 weeks. An established computerized paradigm measured women's ability to disengage attention from infant and adult faces displaying negative positive and neutral emotions. Depressive symptoms were measured using a computerized interview (the Clinical Interview Schedule).

The effect of infant emotion on women's ability to disengage from infant faces was found to be influenced by depressive symptoms. Non-depressed pregnant women took longer to disengage attention from distressed compared with non-distressed infant faces. This bias was not, however, seen in women experiencing depressive symptoms. There was a difference of −53 ( s.d .=0.7) ms (95% confidence interval −90 to −14, p =0.007) between those with and without depressive symptoms in this measure of attentional bias towards distressed infant faces.

Our results suggest that depressive symptoms are already associated with differential attentional processing of infant emotion at the very beginning of childbearing. The findings have potential implications for our understanding of the impact of depressive symptoms during pregnancy on the developing mother–infant relationship.

Are adult negativity or resentment related to an infant crying for attention? - Psychology

Research on adult attachment is guided by the assumption that the same motivational system that gives rise to the close emotional bond between parents and their children is responsible for the bond that develops between adults in emotionally intimate relationships. The objective of this essay is to provide a brief overview of the history of adult attachment research, the key theoretical ideas, and a sampling of some of the research findings. This essay has been written for people who are interested in learning more about research on adult attachment.


How can I as a father fix the wounds of verbal abuse inflicted in my son 23 years of age. I am truly sory and would like to repair the damage before it is too late?

Just reach out and take it step by step. Let your son know that you want him in your life. That you were wrong and now you see it. That you regret the time lost and the way you acted. Honestly answer questions that your son has. Give him space and time to heal. Respect his decision in regards to the relationship between you two disregarding of how that “hurtful” may seem to you.
I write as a daughter who had such a father. I’m 43 and still trying to heal over what my father said and did to my mother, me and brother when I was in my early years of life. I speak from experience. So far only rare contacts seem to work for me especially when his words during our last phone conversation started with “I have not changed, I’m the same…” That’s not what I wanted to hear and the way I look at it, I am the one who needs to accept that no matter what I do, I am the one who needs to accept the reality: he will never regret it or changed despite my attempts to heal the relationship and the nucleus of my family: my mother and brother. We all still carry the weight of our past.

Pray and be calm, have patience and reach out, help out, really BE there if you want to heal your relationship with your son. Good luck!

What if you don’t want your son in your life? What if he’s a constant reminder of how sociopath his mother was? We seem to assume the father was guilty. But relationships are complex. Sometimes, things just happen—there is not relationship to salvage because there was never any relationship to begin with. This is what I have experienced with my son.
I walked away out of necessity, on the advice of a therapist who saw how destructive my son’s mother was. When my son and I tried to reconnect it became apparent that there was simply nothing there. I knew he was hurt, but I couldn’t tell him I was sorry because everything I did I would do again. I told him I wish it had never happened, but all he heard was, “I never wanted you,” which was largely true. He was the result of a pregnancy entrapment. I tried to accept him, but his mother’s constant manipulation and crazy-making made it virtually impossible to connect with him. To me, he was always his mother’s pawn, brought into this world to manipulate and hurt me., and eventually, the family I went on to have.

The reconciliation with my son just quietly petered out. There was nothing to say. Nothing to repair.

If you don’t want him in your life, it’s easy Man. Just move on.

But you could at least explain the complexity of why you left and take responsibility for getting in the relationship with his mum in the first place.
Then he might learn that he should be careful with relationships.
You can still apologise for leaving your son without a dad, but that it was impossible to get to know him Because the mum didn’t let you.
Then one day when he’s old enough to understand he’ll probably want to talk.

Think long and hard before you try. Really be honest with yourself about whether or not you’re able to break that cycle that resulted in all that abuse to begin with. Speaking as someone who was in the “son” role in that scenario, if you think your relationship is bad now, you haven’t seen anything yet compared to what it will be like if you start to repair it and then backslide into your old ways. After however many years of verbal abuse, your relationship is on life support. If you start the healing process and then fail again, you will end it. There will be absolutely no coming back at that point. So while reconciliation might still be possible from your son’s end, you need to have an honest conversation with yourself about whether it’s worth the risk to lose what little you have now.

What if you’re dad does not like talking to you

Cooper, I am a dad of two wonderful boys 17 and 19. I can tell you as a dad if some dads come across like they don’t like talking to their son, I really believe that the dad may be terrified at disappointing the son with a poor response or he may not have the correct answer and because of this will give defensive posture.

I have been thinking of the times I spent with my dad. We had never had a dialogue (one-one conversation) until last year (when I was 19). It happened after multiple attempts of me trying to connect with him. In my childhood, I thought he hated me because he only talked to me to rebuke me. He’s not a bad person, but I see that he may have ignored to make an impact on me as a child. I have 3 older brothers too (really old close to being father figures). My early interaction with them was not good either. I have memories of them making fun of me because I was fat and kind of girlie, and I got a feeling from them that I was uninteresting. This experience has weakened my psychological wellbeing today, and affected my behavior. How do I heal these relationships? How do I find the confidence I need today to be the man I should be?

Listen to Jordan Peterson.
His honest thinking could help you unstick from where you are.

My friend, Charles, would not talk to his father no matter how many times he tried to reach out. Charles ia suffering in his relationships, had 2 failed marriages. Now seeing me but would not open his heart. Often sounds angry and insecured, jas abandonment issues.

Thank you for an your article and words-framework-mindset-approach to help me to reach out to my adult (29yr) son.

The early years with my son were good to excellent, when he turned 11 or 12 he became a bit of a firecracker(normal) and sadly, my response was similar to my father’s bullied and intimidated. My father didn’t have a father to teach him his father died when my father was 8yrs or so.

For a few weeks, I blamed the acrimonious divorce, his mother remarrying and moving out of state. The I accepted that it was ME. I was the adult. I failed. I lost my son.

A while back I read approx 95%+ (?) of estranged relationships reconcile. I also read that the longer the estrangement, the harder to reconcile.

Thank you for encouraging us to reach out and take it step by step.

I have hope and low expectations.

I have two sons. One is 21 and the other 20 years old. Both have a terrible childhood with absolutely poor relationship with their father. He thinks that he loves them but to the extent that his weird “love” choked life out of both. He still refuses to understand and acknowledge the problem while blaming everything on everybody else. The result being the 21 years old has developed mental illness while the 20 yeras old has cut all ties with dad.
What should I do as a mother to help both my sons?
P.S: We did not have a healthy happy marriage and now living seperately after 22 years of marriage. Believe it or not we are not divorced yet for the kid’s sake!

Thank you for publishing this.

Uzma your remarks are making me instantaneously live my past. I am living the same path as your son who has cut all ties with his dad. I would like to know if there is any chance that I will have a future with my father in my life. I want us to be friends with him again. I think of when I was 6 or 7 years old when my dad was my buddy.

Thank you for this article, and for me, it hit the nail on the head. I am father to two kids, 3 and 4 and I love them to death. However my response to them testing their boundaries has been immature, for the reasons you mentioned above. It is already changing the once great dynamics between us, and something I am aware of, but find it so hard to change.
I do realise that the clock is ticking and I do not have much time to turn things around. Sometimes I feel reckless and say to hell with it, they will miss the love I have to offer. However I know that it will hurt both parties, I am also the adult, in a position of control, and they are the children, who are so new to this world.
Fortunately, my wife, their mum, is a lovely woman, who is our rock.
I have counselling once a week to try to sort out my emotions. I read around the subject. I write emails that gets sent to myself at future dates, that so that my mental recollection of events is kept in check. I also acknowledge and accept my short comings as a person, and that I can be better.
It’s not easy when you add in the everyday stresses of money, work, other relationships, and past history. But my kids have hopefully around 80 years ahead of them and every improvement I make to myself now, will be an investment that will keep on growing well after I am gone.

My husband (now a retired physician) taught me the trick of saying, “Hey, we don’t do that in this family.” (It worked for me as a teacher, too: “Hey, we don’t do that in this class.) The need for a sense of belonging is very strong.

Discipline guru, Barbara Coloroso, suggests focusing only on what is morally wrong or life threatening. Determine to let go of the rest — the things that might bug us but just don’t matter. Kids sort things like that out — but they do need your guidance (and sometimes discipline) to understand what is safe and morally right. You’re the adult and you’re allowed to set the boundaries, but do so with your wife and explain them to the kids together, along with the natural or logical consequences for choosing not to follow the family rules — and then *be consistent* (AND a good example).

Hope those two suggestions help.

GLAD I came across father never knew his father and his mother was acknowledged as a sister caus she was not married.ive always seen myself as the dog of the family .no matter how cruel parents can be you still keep going back looking for affection.i suppose they could not find the balance between a behaved child and one that could have any confidence.I have a beautifull daughter which at 20 i adore.i never wanted a son and its only now i know its because i did not want to make my fathers this day he still gives me no respect.its not that my opinion is right or wrong its never asked for. trying to learn that their is a time to cut ties and start trying to heal the hurt.

i dont much like my oldest son and he doesnt like me . i dont feel he was ever treated badly but at the age of 17 him and my ex conspired to drive me out of my home . to attempt to get closer to him to this day would result in me getting shivved again — no thanks . he can stay his ass in chicago and ill stay my ass in central indiana where i belong .
i dont have to like somebody just because im related to them . thats absurd thinking .

I’m the product of an adoption by a single mother. The only male role model I had was her dad, my grandfather. He did give me tons of love and I just crazy about him. When I was 15 or 16 he passed and my emotional world came to total halt. My amazing mother worked long hours and was a very strict disciplinarian. The physical abuse was constant. I remember verbal abuse and my mother parenting with fear and threats. I was often spanked with a belt, iron hanger or anything she could throw at me. Fast-forward, I became the dad of three children two girls and one boy. To understand my fatherhood experience you must understand that as a young boy I was very hyper and I’m certain that I had some type of undiagnosed ADHD. Not doing great in school but at the same time vey smart (ironic ah?). For some reason I was always in trouble, never did drugs or landed in jail. I was just a loner and kept to myself much of the time. I did have friends that from time to time I would go out with in high School. This said, I’m know a proud parent of a 27 y/o girl, a 25 y/o boy and my youngest daughter 23 y/o. My situation is with my son. It seems that I said very strong things to him when he was a child and parented him with fear and threats as well. Once in a while he’ll visit that hurtful file cabinet and pull out a very painful experience with me. I feel that he’s angry with me and the resentment is obvious. I’ve asked him to please forgive me since I was a young dad with no father role model. I had no idea of what to do and say. All I knew was that I didn’t want him to go through what I went and I he HAD to become a better person than me. I chose to become a parent that verbally intimidated and created fear in my son. I never put a hand on any of my children. That was the only thing that I did different from my mother. Everything else I’m my mother. I feel lost, shame, guilty, depress, in agony. I feel that I’m the worst dad in the world. I’m so sorry for what I’ve done. I can’t stop thinking what my poor boy is going through and what I said that marked his life so deeply. That at 25 y/o he still brings up bits and pieces to my attention. I don’t know how to fix this, but one thing I know is that I can’t live with this agony much longer. How can I fix this between my son and I? Thanks for giving me an opportunity to vent my heart. Thank you.

At least your sorry about it and are making the effort to make amends. That makes you a good dad. My dad’s never tried to evaluate his behaviour at least in front of me.
When your son grows up he’ll probably be more willing to work things out with you.
Just show you care occasionally and he’ll see your not the bad dad you think you are.

I’d also add, why not see if your son would like to do a few counselling sessions with you? So that you two can work things out — and get past them — in a safe and guided environment?

18/02/2019I thought i had a good comunication and wonderful relationship with my youngest son 38 years. old. I helped him in every way possible telling him after evry phonecal he zzzzzzzzi love you son.He would call me every 2 or 3 weeks across the Atlantic and mention that he was worried about my health and old age. I felt loved and cared for. We would talk about work, his girlfriend everything that came up.
If i could share experiences to help him in his work i would share. My training got him very far in his work.
10 months ago out of the clear blue he said we can’t speak anymore because i am busy i’ll let you know. i am going through a difficult time.
I have written tens and tens of messages to learn why he would no longer talk to me. It is 10 months and he still does not speak to me or answer chats or messages.
What the hell did i do wrong.

Charles, it doesn’t sound like your son is suggesting that you have done anything wrong. He explicitly told you his reason: he’s overwhelmed with feeling busy. Yes, 10 months is a long time— but it sounds like he might be going through something in his own life that isn’t about you. Who knows: Depression, joining a religion, a relationship breakup, a catastrophe at work. Or maybe just an exhaustion with what he felt was too-frequent communication obligations (the world is so different now than it used to be many of us have hundreds of unanswered emails, constant texts bombarding us, and a backlog on the voicemail. Burnout is real, and some people hit a point where they want to eliminate long distance communication for a while to focus on immediate local obligations). Yes, your son SHOULD be more respectful of you as his father, and respect your emotional need for more frequent contact — but humans are fallible. And he might be failing in his ethical duties right now for a myriad of different reasons that have little to do with any guilt on your part. (Unless there’s more to your story than you mentioned).

I have 2 children from my 1st marriage. My NOW soulmate, moved heaven & earth to get my children from my ex. Spent 100’s of hours on legal issues and paperwork. My ex went WILD as if she was a party girl again and my kids suffered physically and psychologically as she partied and had an abusive boyfriend to both her and them. My daughter, 11 at the time was scared and confused when I left the home. Sadly, she became suicidal and we had multiple trips to therapy hospitals in the area. After her 4th attempt I offered an alternate solution of having her go to my parents. Insert Evil Mom syndrome and the choice was clear. Here’s the point of my story. We went to a mutua meeting point and we had Xmas gifts for everyone and when my son got out of the car to go to my parents car…the hatch opened and they never got out. He was a child LOST in outer space. My heart sank as we were devastated by their actions. My parents fell hook, line and sinker for what my daughter told them. This was 2015 and to date, not 1 single email or phone call or txt message or any other form of communication was done by my parents to explain WHY they did what they did. Cold Turkey. I have RAGE inside me on a level that police profilers would be like …DAMN!! I will never act on it but the fact that my ASSHOLE father would just go…adios and not try to contact us in any way for clarity is beyond comprehension. His wife, is a fucking bitch and as close to being the actual Anti-Christ as any human I’ve ever known. She WAS my mother, as my real mom passed and she was a wonderful human towards my wife and I but when this happened, she SATAN’D up and I now know where I stand. I will NEVER get over this complete back turning on my wife and I as they never walked a millimeter in our shoes. Story has so many more turns, obviously. But point is… communication and we were “judged” by ppl who did nothing and-knew nothing .

So -I am a 46 yr young mom to an Amazing young man who will be turning 16 this year…a few more months actually. I married my High School Sweetheart (Yup, My sons Daddy). In school it seemed I took the roll of Godmom to so many of my girlfriend’s who had become pregnant in school as well as most of them quitting their education, but they also bore children by Boys who Never were father’s nor supported their children. I swore Id not go down that path especially knowing I came from an abusive and broken home with my mom and my dad. Though Momma Never talked bad about my dad to my brother and I, she never had help financially or otherwise from him, she was also abused by him and I thank my big brother for shielding those times from me, yet he was the one most harmed by seeing the things he had, he is now 50 and even today I still see his pain and the toll it took on my brother. So after I married We planned out son and Kolton was born when I was 31. Other than marrying the live of my life, becoming a Mom to my only child “My Son Kolton” was by far the Best thing that Ever happened to me. But after he was born, my husband lost all interest in me, hell he even told me that because of the weight Id gained from my pregnancy, that I grossed him out and he had no desire to have intimacy with me….. My son was 18mo when I filed for seperation. The hardest thing I ever did in life because I truly believed in “for better or for worse”… completely ripped my heart out, one thing I had Always known though was I would follow my Mothers Lead in that No Matter What, Whether my X had a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, Id not be that woman, mother or X, that would drag a man down and rape him financially or dangle our son over his head demanding More Money or you won’t ever see him kinda BS that O have seen Sooo Many Women/Mothers do to a man and believe me….Ive seen a Many! So every other weekend it was….and ohh were the days without my son just Awful. I didn’t think I could miss anyone or anything as much as I did on those 2 days. As the years went on, I never took him to court, never demanded more, I only demanded he be a Dad! Because he nor I ever had one, I insisted on this! I even bought my home 3 miles away from the Marital home where we all lived (owned by X’s Mom and Step Dad), so that he could see him, take him or whatever anytime….I always placed him on School paperwork, daycare, sports etc… As His Dad who could retrieve him any time. But as time (years went on) he only stuck to that Everyother weekend Definably never took him longer, or on vacations or anything. So My son last year was 14 and about to turn 15, when his dad walked away, turned his back, and walked out of our sons life 100% just like that. All over what was their 1st Argunent about going to a concert with Friends where I had already said No, not without an adult. So he calls his dad thinking he’d get a different answer all to have his dad tell him that he wasn’t going to allow him to go to a Rap concert where he continues to tell at my son over the phone telling him that if he starts going to those kind of concerts he will be White Ni&&ER! Calling his friends The N word and just Disgusting. My son has been raised by ME, And I have thought Him the importance of having multiple friendships of all colors, all walks of life and without Predjudice! Not in a Million years did I ever expect that his father would say such! My son told him he said Dad…… if you say that word one more time I am hanging out the phone on you (something we DoNot do to people) …..his dad repeated the word a few more times and my son said Im hanging up now because You are MAKING ME SICK DAD…AND IF I HAVE TO DO THAT BE PREPARED THAT I WONT EVER NEVER CALL YOU AGAIN! ……and so he ended that call. My son made me prouder than Id ever been in his 14 years of MY RAISING HIM THAT DAY! His father on the other hand he has No Idea what the Hell He Is Missing Out On. Because my boy is AWESOME IN EVERY WAY! His father is the biggest POS Excuse for a Dad or Man Ive ever seen in my life! It kills My Heart to the Core that he is no longer a part of my sons life, and Trust me when I say, I hurt over this Way more than my son does But again….. This just shows me that Im an Amazing Momma and I -ME ….. Have done one hell of a job raising my son and I honestly couldn’t be more PROUD! So much his father has chosen to miss and Will Miss…..because he doesn’t have a heart to turn back around to his son and apologize! What a shame huh? It’s cool, he still lives with his Old German Hagg of a Mother who still pays his bills and would not fathom any kind of female in her house with him! LMAO……here’s your KARMA my X! Your Momma is gonna live to be 110….. Lol and the Controll she has over you and your life IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU DESERVE! My Boy Deserves a Better MAN to Call DAD!

A lot of painful letters! I am compelled to share.
I am a father of two grown men, 40, and 41 years old. I gave them everything they could possible need, love, support, encouragement, the best schools, the best neighborhood, the best training in every conceivable sport, games etc. Both graduated as lawyers from top universities. I believe in duty, hard work, and and self discipline. My father died when I was 6 years old. My mother had 8 kids to raise. I put myself through university, and never caused any problems for anyone. I don’t even get parking tickets. Always I try to show gratitude for any favour I might receive. I try to serve society as a volunteers in any number of ways. When I divorced their mother essentially because she tried to kill me, they started to be really angry and hateful towards me because I “destroyed their perfect life”. I continued to conduct myself with dignity and civility and stayed above all the ill will. Their mother made every attempt to destroy me, my employment relations, my friendships, my personal property. Essentially, I left with nothing. Essentially, I “threw everything overboard” to save myself. In divorce, be prepared to loose everything, except your health and your faculties. All material possessions can be replaced. This mindset will help to avoid bad bargains. Your personal reputation is essential. I follow every rule, avoid any skeletons in any closets, complete your tax returns. Do nothing such that you cannot go up on a roof and shout to the world, “Guess what I did…”. Be open and transparent with all personal and corporate dealings. This avoids you being blackmailed by your spouse or your children. Break no rules or laws to help them. They will make you pay for it. This can be a type of personal hell. With them as witness, you could also end up in jail. Essentially, try to continue to live a life above reproach and to avoid having to apologize to anybody for any conduct or impropriety of any sort. I feel that these boys and their mother are seriously resentful because “I destroyed their perfect life”, and their attempts at revenge have always been frustrated or ineffective. Yes, they failed to destroy me, and on the contrary they have seen how I have used my personal philosophy of commitment to hard work and and with discipline and dedication have prospered. One son who I basically salvaged from the destruction and abuse by his mother has not spoken to me for 10 years. The other son makes every attempt to make sure I am treated with disregard or disrespect at every encounter. I simply ignore his boorish conduct. I never appear to be hurt by any slights or rudeness. Under, no circumstance, allow them to get to “Get to you”! I believe this capacity completely frustrates his attempts to be hurtful. He now has a daughter. The relationship I have with his family including his daughter is based on my sense of duty to them. I am always cordial and respectful. I personally have dispensed with “Love” its too expensive! In review, I think more men would be happier if they approached fatherhood with a sense of duty: “Think not of what your kids can do for you but what you can do for your kids”, approach this responsibility with a sense of duty to your kids and to the greater society. Expect nothing in return! Once you have done your duty, see every encounter as a transaction. You no longer owe them anything. It is now society’s responsibility. This is a sure way to avoid unmet expectation, heartaches, and disappointments. It works for me. Good Luck!

Like father like son has every thing as the model of lessons.One only looks and sees how has been struggling when he/she gets to the very experience.
The tense terrible experiences of the son seeing the failure of the father and latter failing is a sign that we can of ourselves do nothing but every good thing we do is a gift from God for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
This is a two way approach confess as has been done and ask for forgiveness.The two parties must reconcile only in the love of God and there after sholder on as between them none is perfect.

My husband won’t speak to his 35 y/o son because he’s an alcoholic and won’t work. My son periodically will clean himself up and stop drinking and go to church with his dad but when he relapses my husband stops all contact with him. This hurts me and I want to help somehow but not sure what to do.

Thanks Dr. your article provides me parameters to and substantial evidence to confront my own fears as a father and try to mend the relationship with my son which i believe is not at all lost if i act with an open mind and willing to revisit with him phases of our past were i hurt his emotional development. Would take courage but I agree with you that as a father it is in the best interest of me to reset and reprogram the relationship by acknowledging my very own limitations and shortcomings because at the end, all I want is to ensure that my son stands up to himself and proud of being my son. ThT is not the cade today. I have much to admit and i am -by virtue of writing this- in the right path fo get it

I have a 22 year old son who is too attached to me, I have been divorced for 17 years but never out of his life. Whenever he finds I am dating someone he manipulates me by threats of suicide, quitting his job, etc to live with me. He has never held a regular job and at this point i am a bit over supporting him. I have now met a woman I truly care for and want to make a life with, however, he appeared told me if I didn’t help him he’d commit suicide. I don’t think this lovely woman will handle this much longer. He is now living with me doing NOTHING. He hugs me, holds my hand and kisses me and I am uncomfortable with the intenseness and emotions in these actions. A few of my fellow friends told me he might be latent homosexual. Have talked to psychiatrists and it is a dead end there. Any help from your viewers?

Hello, I don’t really know you but what comes to mind, is that maybe his emotional development ‘stopped’ at around the age of you divorcing his mother (age 4 or 5). He may not be over that yet? His behavior as you put it here strikes me as that of a very young boy, desperate not to loose this dad, like he is clinging on and very manipulating to you. Four years old tend to see all-or-nothing, which is normal for that age. Perhaps that he is overreacting if you compared to what you would expect for a man in his early twenties. Don’t mean to be mean, Jon, but since you have had a lot of dead ends in therapy. I thought of giving it a try. Compliments to you for reaching out here. Myself (women) am reading on father-son (partner and brothers) to understand them more and ultimately why stuff keeps happening to me. Best wishes for 2020!

Thank you for your article. Very helpful. I am the mother of a 17 yr old son who has a very non-existent relationship with his father.. His father/my husband lives in the house with us.. I try to help the relationship but it turns into you are defending the other person.. I have asked my husband to seek therapy because I see this relation dissolving itself to nothing. He seems to thing my son needs therapy and not him. My husband grew in a very toxic family and he can not deal with confrontations. His solution is to lash out verbally or physically. If he tries to reach out his efforts are rebuffed by my son.. Then he goes back to being the emotionally immature father again.. I am lost not sure how to handle this.

Great article , I think relations between fathers & sons are complicated , specially if you were the oldest son me , the Verbal abuse & some times the Physical abuse , left scars that will never leave , & am not married until now , may be i will never get married cause frankly i don’t have the energy to face my fears from repeating the same mistakes that have been done to me, & i had trouble in my career & relations , cause i never saw my father as a role model specially when it comes to relations , he barely had a good relation with my mother , again the verbal & physical abuse was always the problem with her too , & i never felt that am good enough to his standards , & i think i failed in my life partly -not totally- due to this unhealthy relation..

What about this type of relationship between father and daughter. I have a brother 3 years older but I was the tom boy. My Dad had a very hard childhood and I feel like we kids paid the price for this. My Dad worked to be better than his upbringing, he worked hard, is a perfectionist, had the my way or highway thinking, second is the first loser, be a leader not a follower and it’s not’s constructive criticism. Hard on me as a girl doesn’t even touch the surface of what I feel was a me, always trying to make good decisions and choices that would make him proud. I’m 47 today, and I have realized that I can no longer be around a man who makes me feel like a failure. I am very successful, and have been driven all my life. I feel like I am where I am, not because I has support, but because I was going to prove him wrong. ong. I remodel my own home, take care of my own vehicles…just put a new back door in before winter. He is the kind of guy who will tell you….you screwed the screws too tight. He will take a tape measure and see if my measurements are just barely off. My mother defends it and has all my life. She is insistent that he just wants what is best for me. He and I get into verbal altercations constantly because I feel like I have to stick up for myself. I haven’t spoke to him for 2 months now. The last time I was over there I asked him if he could cut a pipe for me and it turned into a complete cluster because he questioned if the length to cut was correct. It was my last straw….my mother says I’m mean, he means well…that’s just the way your Dad is. I have father figuresnin my life who treat me more of a daughter than my Dad. Am I wrong for feeling completely brow beat and for deciding that I cannot handle the mental beating I feel like I’m getting? Nothing is good enough, so why bother. I believe that his treatment me is why I have the worst time in any relationship. I’ve picked people who are not goal oriented, even though I am. I think I’ve done this to not be criticised….I feel so lost.

I’ve been struggling with my relationship with my youngest son for his entire life. For some reason, we have not been able to form a bond of any kind, and this has be ongoing for as long as I can remember. He is absolutely ignorant to me, quite often will not answer questions I ask him and has made no bones about his disgust with my existence. I have tried and tried and tried to find out what has caused this rift, and I’m sure I am equal in fault. The more I try, the more I get snubbed and pushed away. I had asked repeatedly what he and I can do together, only he and I, but I either get no answer with a nasty glare or a very curt “I don’t want to do anything with you.” Today when I dropped him off at his practice, he slammed the car door so hard that the window cracked and I voiced my displeasure, which I am sure will now result in at least a week of nothing from him. I feel like I’m at the end of my rope and feel like there is little recourse other than to leave, if only for a short period of time. I have no troubles with my relationships with my other four children, at least at this time. I don’t know if that will change as they continually see the tension between my youngest and me. Sorry for being long winded, but do you have any immediate suggestions? I’d appreciate any advice from anyone.

Hello Allen Smith: It was July 2019 that you posted your entry here so by now you may have already resolved this. In the case of what you disclosed about your youngest son, I would start leaving him totally alone. As you quoted him saying “I don’t want to do anything with you,” I would leave him to his own devices – including getting himself to and from to places he wants to go. Since it’s clear he’s trying to “punish” you for whatever he sees you’ve done wrong, hopefully he’ll eventually crack and be forced to tell you what’s eating his lunch. My 2 cents’ worth as a grandfather.

Hello Allen. As a youngest child myself, I found it difficult not being taken as seriously as my three older siblings were. The youngest especially requires more quality time with parents because they don’t have younger siblings to take care of or boss around as a means of building character. It is possible that your son feels like he isn’t being treated as his older siblings were. I agree with Jake in that you should let him be more of an individual, and celebrate his achievements such as acing a test or making a sport team.

Finally, insight about the negative impacts the father/son relationship can have on a child! Oftentimes the general argument about unresolved childhood issues focuses on and blames the mothers influence or parenting. Even when fathers are involved as of showing up is enough.

Which only perpetuates the issues by failing to address psychological needs.

I am 40 years old. I have few childhood memories of my father. I can count them on one hand. When he walked out on my mother, my sister, and me, I was only 8. My mother remarried when I was 10. My stepfather was just “there”: he never tried to be my father. He eventually cheated on my mother. They divorced. Growing up was a turbulent process. I didn’t realize how much the lack of a father contributed. I struggled to define myself. I lacked confidence–and still do. I have a family now. On the outside, I appear fine, even successful. On the inside, I’m a wreck. I feel deep anger toward my father. He calls occasionally. He wants to be a part of my life. He wants to see my kids. Not sure what motivates him. He remarried and has another son with his new wife. He seems committed to them. However, when I try and have a meaningful conversation with him, one where we connect emotionally, he seems uninterested. It makes my anger burn even more. My sister tells me he’ll never connect with us on a deeper level. She’s fine with it. I’m not. My mother has since remarried my stepfather. She brings him around me and my family. For her sake, I tolerate him, but I had hoped I’d never see him again. Both these “fathers” are now back in my life, but my childhood is gone. A part of me wants it back. I don’t know why. Their presence is too little too late. I have been indelibly shaped by their absence. All I can feel is anger toward them.

Boy am I glad I found this article. I pray that sharing it with my husband will be a moment of clarity for us all.

For years, I have had a strained relationship with my own father. When I was a young child, around 4 to 6, I would wait for my father at my grandmother’s abode. Yet, there would be times where he would not come. I believe this is the beginning of several of my deep mental problems.
Thankfully, my relationship with my father has grown, but the issues that came with some of his negligence will always remain, I fear.

You are in the middle of your father and his suppressed anger at the world.

Our country has turned very liberal, multi-cultured and subconsciously a man is more conservative and hates this.

A father probably is using you to take out his anger or maybe he’s an a**hole.

I kind of stay away from mine now because he only alters my brain.

It’s 5AM, I read the whole article & every single comment & reply posted. It all makes so much sense now, I wish I’ve known this sooner & I believe I’m lucky enough that my greatest fear (father) is alive & I still have the chance to at least try to get some answers

I can’t remember the last time I heard the word ‘proud’ come out of my fathers lips. Whatever it is that i do I always knew it wasn’t enough or something was missing because I have always wanted to be seen as the ideal son only through my fathers eyes. Now I get why I was so jealous of my friends father-son relationships, of all the advices their fathers told them before they passed away, I would die to hear just one out of my fathers.

Talking about his wrong doings here won’t solve anything but all what’s going through my mind right now is what on earth did my grandfather commited for us to go through all of this.

Thank you for mentioning about how talking about our feelings, we can come to a meaningful conclusion. I grew up without a father and it has greatly hindered me emotionally throughout my life. I feel that I am not loved and it really has put a toll on my personal relationships. Growing up without a father definitely has negative effects on a person’s well being.

I have 2 sons, one 25 the other 20.
The way my husband is treating my 20 year old is really worrying me. Being the mother I am told that I should stop fending for him.
The problem: since they were very young the way their father disciplined them would be by swearing and threatening them. I didn’t like the way he behaved and this caused a lot of fights between us.
Years later he has sort off calmed down with the eldest one, but the youngest one is still being treated the same. Unfortunately my son suffers from depression is seeing a psychologist on medication and is wondering why his father won’t bond with him and why he hates him. Last night in a fight my husband told me>>>>I am not happy with him, years ago I was mowing the lawn outside and he was inside playing games. So now we know. But this goes much further back. He can’t handle my relationship and bond with the boys especially the youngest.
I have been praying- he is a very hard man. Even in therapy he wouldn’t acknowledge his impact and behaviour on his son.
I don’t know what to do.

My son is currently 17. I recognized he had some anger issues regarding his father when he was 12 or 13. We went to a counselor who said they could help him and he still goes off and on as a 17 year old, several different counselors through the years, but through one practice. Back when we originally took him, they told us to gain his Trust etc., they wouldn’t be able to share his information with us unless they thought he would hurt himself or others. I’m glad my son still goes and has someone to speak with, but I don’t understand how my husband and I are supposed to help if we don’t even know what it’s all about. Our son tends to be “okay” at home, but for some reason when we are out in public, you can see a wall go up around him when it comes to interacting with his dad. So confusing………….

What a great article. Right in the feels

Hello my name is John. I am 58 years old. I trying to work on my relationship with my son. I went through a bad dovorce many years ago. I did not handle it well. During those years I should have been a better father . I had so much hate in me for ex She had been seeing my best friend and ended up marrying him. . I was mad at the world. Nothing made me happy. I began drinking heavily for years. As time passed it has gotten better. To make a very long story short my son is trying to build a relationship with me. I trying but I m not doing well. What are some things that I have to do. I want so much to get a strong relationship between us . Please give me some guidelines some ideas. This is so important to me. Please. Thank you.

Just sent you a letter. Didn’t know if you received my correct email address. Thanks

Hello my name is Santiago. I am 24 years old. I don’t have kids, and I live with both my parents whom I love with all my heart. That being said the relationship between my father and I is starting to break. I am 2nd born out of 5 siblings. And the only one out of them that’s been beat for disciplinary reasons. I had a very difficult and challenging upbringing. I was consistently verbally and physically abused at home and at school by my parents, siblings, and others because I was morbidly obese and crippled with depression. Now I’m a adult. And I love my mom and dad. I have forgiven in me all resentment, anger, and pain I carried, or at least I thought.. being a parent is beyond hard. I see how my pops is with my siblings and I feel happy that they didn’t have to go through what I did with him, but sometimes I feel estranged to him. I know he loves me and has proven it with action and love for the family, but the scars he left on my psyche and in my heart are tremendously deep. I explode on him for things that aren’t that serious and vice-versa. I know I’ve brought him stress, and minor troubles maybe. I’m deeply saddened that my soul cannot let go. I want those memories to not matter and they don’t…Tell that to my psyche though, now that it is crippled by unresolved traumas inflicted accidently by a father who did not know. I want to make him proud. I love my old man, but our hearts are strangers to each other. His view of me is skewed. I know he senses a pain, a anger, a sadness, and perhaps even darkness that I carry. I do. I’m healing and I thank god. I LOVE YOU DAD IM SO SORRY YOU HAVE TO FEEL SORROW. I WILL HEAL IN ME FOR THE BOTH OF US.

I have only one child , now a man about 34 years. I am his father and he hates me and he has washed his hands of me. He has blocked my emails and my telephone calls. But I can only post or drop a letter to him.
My wife, his mother , passed away about 18 months ago when she had gone on holiday due to hernia bursting and her life could not be served after a surgery. My son blames that I did not seek proper treatment at the right time. He is the only child in my family. I have even asked for his forgiveness he does not want to know me.

I will be grateful if you would please recommend as to how I could reconnect with my son. I have no other children and I am prying to reconnect with my son.

It sounds like that he sees you as a safe target to blame and this is where you need to put in boundaries but with empathy. It might be worth putting that in a letter to him. He is entitled to his pain but it isn’t your fault that she died. The outcomes could have been the same whatever happened and your son needs to face that reality.

This article is excellent as are the responses. I am a father of 2 sons and a dau. I realize now that when they were younger their mother had a need to be held in very high esteem by her children so she pushed me to be the disciplinarian so I always looked like the heavy. During their teenage years, their mom wanted a divorce to do things she never did as we met in college and married right afterwards. I was devastated, but since I had stayed home 1/2 time to raise the children, I felt that I had that special bond in our 50% shared legal and physical custody. This changed when she wanted child support, so I was under a lot of financial and emotional pressure as the judge first said the mother wants them back so the father gets 1.5 days every 2 weeks ( 3 days a month ), and I had to pay child support. Long story short, my ex. now had to manage the children most of the time and she thought of putting them in a private school 1 day’s drive from our area, and sent me the bill and then a court order. My two sons as teenagers were given their own credit cards and full access to mom’s car , then an apartment in college…..My ex. wanted the college divorce agreement changed for we would contribute as possible with the children working, getting loans….. to me paying for 1/2 of all the college bills plus apt / credit card …… on my $35,000 school teacher salary. My two sons knew of this and determined that I didn’t want the best for them and was a dead beat dad having to be dragged into court to pay for a private high school that cost more than my teacher salary.During these times I was emotionally and financially overwhelmed and did at times respond to their words to me by saying that their mom came from a wealthy family and that she wanted what she wanted and other choice words. They choose to go from the private high school to college and never speak to me again. I have reached out to them 2-3 x a year and apologized for not being the father they needed and wanted. I have apologized for showing disrespect of their mom in front of them. They do not respond. It is now 20 years later and I still keep my door and heart open, continuing to recognize their hurt feelings and their disappoints in me, apologizing, and asking if we can move past this and reconnect and no response continues. They have moved around a bit and I now only have their email addresses and my dau. ( who we get along wonderfully, will pass on my cards to them for me).They are in their late 30’s unmarried, living a bachelor lifestyle. What else can I do ? I still love them deeply and pray and hope that one day they will be available to reconnect.

It’s typical of the author’s generation that his discourse rests on blame: in this case blame the sons for the father’s shortcoming, failures, mistakes, etc. Do you not think that an adult son should ever be held accountable for his meanness of spirit towards a father? Chances are that the father has ‘done his best’. And, of course the thing about blame is this: you can blame others so easily for what they do, but you cannot blame them for what you don’t do. Thus father’s become a therapist’s blessing. The imagined pain of a son can be so easily placed on a father which means the client will return for another seesion the following week

Where do you think the meanness comes from Douglas? It doesn’t come from a father that is loving and generous, it comes from a Father who perhaps wasn’t those things. This is the issue I have with therapy and people in general. They automatically go to blame. Therapy isn’t really about blame. Therapy is about understanding the dynamics in which you grew up in and previous generations dynamics and in understanding it, you can then change your life. I don’t blame my Father for his actions but I do understand where his behaviour comes from, however it was his choice to not do things differently and for that he is entirely responsible. Blame doesn’t enter the equation.

What if my dad says he loves me, but always verbal abuses me.

My family hails from Indo sub-continent, verbal and physical abuse is considered part of good parenting, discipline and love in many families.
I can hardly recall three positive, encouraging times with my father. I have tried to make sense of it over the years and realized that he himself never had a good relationship with his father and that probably has a lot to do with it. However he never stopped and asked himself why all his siblings, kids have avoided him and only spend time with him out of obligation.
I have felt envious of some of my white friends that have a great relationship with their fathers, seeing then enjoying together as friends/pals I know it does exists.
Institutional education has little to do with it as my grandpa had a PhD and my father is an Engineer. The best I can do is to make peace with it and be mindful of myself if/when times comes to raise my own son.

Hi, yes great article.
I have a son 23years old, we don’t get on, in my mind own mind I’m content with the fact that people are different and life moves on.
I also have a wife that obviously would like nothing more than for us to at least be civil to each other, I’m not, I know I’m not. So much has happened in the past leading to this point. From birth until about 7/8years things were pretty good, then it’s been down hill every since, so so much has happened leading to this point that my attitude is just as I said above people are different and if we were a couple we would get a divorce, my wife can’t get her head around that. I’m tired of hitting my head against a wall.
As of tonight, after about a year after him saying to me out of politeness – hello once a day, the wife called him from his room where he’s been for the past 13years for another go trying to get to the bottom of it, with no success, if anything just made it worse,
Your views and comments and advice welcome

Thanks you for your article. My husband is a good man but he has very deep unresolved pain from his strained relationship with his father who has sadly passed away. Our son is now 16 and it seems the wounds of my husband are influencing his relationship with our son. My husband is an angry man but also a gentle man. The anger is an automatic response when things don’t go the way he feels they should or our son is displaying an alternative narrative. I feel my husband is parenting from a place of fear and sadness which is displayed as frustration and aggression.
Our son is now displaying rage and frustration towards me and his dad when he and his dad try to talk about difficult subjects or my husband doesn’t feel our son is going the way he thinks he should.
Our son is a great kid but I’m afraid my husbands unresolved issues are instilling negative emotions in other son … pleas help

ok where do i start . my Father and mother adopted me . as well as my father was desserted by his parents when he was 3 forcing him to live with his grandparents. finally meeting his mother and father for the first time when he became 53. jump back five years from then i was adopted and i always knew i was adopted it never became a issue till past couple years . but my father was always there to support me , bail me out of trouble . or help me in certain areas in life . than when i was 16-19 i had a son of my own ,his mother and i had complications and i didnt know how to coop or how to resolve the situation. so she left with my son and i started to hate the world , eventually i got into drugs and making it worse it continued and impacted my whole network of people in my life. costing me everything , my 2 full sized houses , my singing career , any friends i had eventually my new relationship fell apart and i ended up resorting to much harder and harder drugs till eventually something in my life snapped and i couldnt do it anymore . i got on some medication and started to get clean. my mother willing to try one last time started to go to councilor meetings and slowly became my friend again. now here is where the big mental issue is , my dad on the other hand i have asked him to come to the meeting he wont , i want to help with things he needs to do day to day , hes turned 83 this year and just retired last year altho he still is constantly on his feet , he has major health concerns to the point im scared hes going to faint when he goes to have coffee with his friends . but no matter how much i try and help he gets upset . and aswell if i just keep to myself and stay downstairs and avoid him then where i am staying is too big of a mess (i have a room with 3 1x2ft boxs and a couch) i understand that i fucked up . i know i really was not thinking. and sure i have some FASD,ADHD, but im trying . i would do anything to be the son hes happy to have . i mean the past few years ive found out hes taken me out of his will completely, the oldies car we used to work on together is now skipping me and my son is intitled to it . anything i do im a burden . i am always a negative impact on people. even if i work my ass off , stop doing any and all criminal behavior. i dunno how to talk to him . like the problem is i dunno what to put into words and/or actions to make it so me and him are happy to have eachother in our lives . i mean i am always going to value and respect what he has done for me and how he raised me . but now that hes starting to show signs of old age and stuff . i hatge the thought of him being stressed out about life ending and getting angry . he wont talk to me or my mother . noone knows whats going on , cause to him not talking about the problem means avoiding the pain .

came across your articles i was impressed with all the remarks thought i was alone with mine. Raised 3 kids on my own . Anyway life goes on when they grow up they do their own thing. Thank you for the input.

This article was very timely for me in my farther-son relationship with my son. I like the advice you give on healing the relationship with our fathers before we heal the relationships with our sons. How do you do that if your father has passed away? Lately I’ve been shown some realities of that relationship from an outsider’s perspective. How do I reconcile with those realities and face them as fatherless son?

How Attention Seeking Behavior Looks

1. Hysteria.

Suppose you’re having a seemingly decent conversation with one of them. As of yet, you don’t know whether the person you’re interacting with is an attention seeker or not. All of a sudden, you find them burst with emotions. It can be excitement, anger, or a sense of immense disturbance.

You start wondering what could have possibly gone wrong. If you could find no practical reason, know this, that he/she is an attention seeker. It is characteristic of every attention seeker to come up with emotional outbursts for no reason at all. It is usually referred to as Histrionic Personality Disorder.

2. Playing the victim.

But it doesn’t stop there. They’ll behave as if they’re victims of emotional exploitation. Though you’ve done absolutely nothing to cause the trauma, they, however, like to play the blame game.

You’ll start feeling uncomfortable, but that won’t deter them from continuing their drama. They have absolutely no regard for social order and peace and would leave no stone unturned in playing a poor victim who has been traumatized by the person they’re interacting with. All this for a speck of attention.

3. Becoming indispensable.

Sometimes, people become so close to you that you cannot think of a day without having to meet or talk to them. And if that someone happens to be an attention seeker, you’re in for some serious drama.

You’ll find them forcibly inserting themselves into your daily routine. Not only that, they’ll make sure that you end up texting or calling them as many times as possible. Subconsciously, they want you to be totally dependent on them. They want to be your messiah in your times of need. They’ll try to gain a position, where you’ll end up begging for help in tough times.

This is how, they’ll gain an upper hand on you, thus making you their emotional slave.

4. Pretending to be ill.

This is one of the best psychological tricks employed by an attention seeker. You’ll find them claiming to be ill, even when they are at the peak of their health. It is much like a madman claiming the weather to be cloudy even if it’s a bright sunny day.

They act this way to gain sympathy. So that people start to take out some time and give all of their attention to them. Attention seekers are very good at acting. They’ll never let you see their real face. You’ll never know if that person is really ill, or just pretending to be. The main goal here is to get sympathetic attention from the close ones, and if possible, from strangers as well.

5. Acting busy.

As mentioned earlier, attention seekers behave as if the world revolves around them. But sometimes, they’ll also use means that are far less direct than the ones they normally employ. One of the best ways is to act busy.

Yes, this is a passive way that transmits signals conveying that they’re important as a professional and have no time for people. This is done so that people start to admire their hard work and frequently connect with them as if they’re very important figures in society. Showing people that you’re engaged and seldom have spare time indirectly lures people, as they start believing in your false status and start being around you to get even a molecule of attention.

Goals of misbehavior – Part 1: Attention

Why do children misbehave? To communicate? To control? To manipulate? This four-part series will describe the goals of misbehavior, what they mean and how you can effectively respond to them.

Why do children misbehave? Is it because they are being disobedient on purpose? Do they not know better? Are they not capable of following rules? Is it just to push your buttons? Are they pushing boundaries? Testing limits? Is it just fun?

Sometimes when children misbehave it feels personal, like your child is purposely doing something to you in order to make your life more difficult. In the hustle and bustle of family life, these acts of misconduct might feel like someone is adding fuel to the fire. Many parents do not understand what motivates their children to act this way, especially after they put so much effort into raising hardworking and respectful children. So, why then, do children misbehave?

Think about misbehavior as a method of communication, a child&rsquos way of reaching out. Adults have a lot of practice in decoding their own feelings and have learned many different ways of managing and expressing those feelings. Young children are still learning these tools for communication so, instead of saying they are lonely or bored, toys are thrown. The behavior is negative or undesired, but the reasons behind it are not. It&rsquos important to remember negative behavior does not make your child &ldquobad.&rdquo There&rsquos a difference between how your child behaves and their character. What they do is not who they are.

Understanding why children misbehave can be a crucial step in positive discipline. Knowing the why will help you figure out the how&mdashhow to respond. Just like it is important to recognize an infant&rsquos specific cues indicating hunger, tiredness or overstimulation, it is important for parents and caregivers to recognize older children&rsquos cues. These cues, often shown through actions instead of words, will tell you how to meet their immediate needs and help teach them positive and effective ways of expressing themselves. Children use behavior to communicate something to you and understanding their reasons behind their behavior can help you not only care for and nurture your child, but help teach them to regulate their own behavior.

One reason children misbehave is attention. When children seek attention through their behaviors they are feeling overlooked or insignificant. To get this need met, they behave in ways to make sure they get noticed. They throw their toys, hit their brother, scream or generally make life difficult.

Managing attention-seeking behaviors

Oftentimes when children seek attention through their misbehavior we give them exactly what they want, but maybe not in the most constructive way. It&rsquos easy to quickly react to these situations by yelling or scolding a child. In doing that, we give them the attention they desire, but we give them negative attention. While children would prefer positive attention over negative attention, they will accept and seek out negative attention if that is all that is offered to them. If the only time an adult pays attention to their child is by yelling or scolding in reaction to negative behaviors, the child is likely to repeat or escalate their actions to continue getting that attention. If we find a way to give the child our attention in a positive, constructive way, everyone can get what they want.

Try these tips from the Michigan State University Extension to manage attention-seeking misbehavior:

  • Make it positive. Instead of noticing your child&rsquos negative behavior, try pointing out something positive. Maybe in the midst of a conflict you can mention how pleased you are that your child picked up all their blocks and tidied the playroom. Shift your child&rsquos focus and you can shift their behavior. In this case a child gets the attention they want, but for a positive behavior that you can reinforce.
  • Change the channel. Sometimes it is hard for children to shift their focus once they have set a goal, like attention! Think of it like being in a tunnel &ndash when your focus is ahead on your goal of getting out the other side, you might miss other opportunities to accomplish the same goal along the way. Try giving attention to your child for something completely unrelated. You could notice their socks are on inside out, point out a squirrel outside or ask them to remind you of the color of their eyes. If you shift their focus away from their negative behavior, then your child is getting the attention they desire in a positive way.
  • Decode the message. When a child is misbehaving, they are trying to communicate something to you. Try taking a step back and taking a minute to see the situation from your child&rsquos point of view. It is easier to address issues in a calm and supportive manner when we understand where someone is coming from. Do a little sleuthing and look for clues that might tell you what your child is feeling. Ask yourself what their motivation could be. Are they tired, hungry, lonely, bored? There may be simple things you can do to discourage misbehavior and make sure your child&rsquos needs are met. Maybe your child needs some space, a new activity, a change of scenery or some quality time with you.
  • Spend quality time. If your child is misbehaving to get attention from you, one of the best things you can do is plan time to give them your undivided attention in positive ways. Load them up with quality time and make sure that you give them lots of attention. Make dinner together, plan a family outing, or snuggle under the blankets reading stories with a flashlight. Whatever you do, do it together!

If you reframe your view of misbehavior as an opportunity to listen to, care for and teach your child, you will be able to model and reinforce positive behaviors patterns, strengthen your communication with your child and increase the quality of your interactions.

For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our impact report. Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

Explain to your child the difference between (1) a real emergency (where your immediate attention is warranted), and (2) something that your child wants but isn’t urgent. For instance, if the sink is overflowing upstairs, or a sibling has just escaped out the front door, those are real emergencies, and your immediate attention is needed. However, if your child wants to show you a video, and you’re talking on the phone, that’s not an emergency. They can wait for your attention in that instance.

Here’s a helpful tip: have a plan in place that allows your child to signal when something is truly important. Developing a catchphrase for them to say in a real emergency (for example, “code red”) helps your child learn to differentiate between a real emergency and simply wanting your attention.

7 Kinds of Crying and What They Mean

Various observers have tried to understand the meaning of human crying, beginning, perhaps, with Aristotle, the Greek philosopher. It appears there may be at least seven kinds of crying.

In all likelihood there are more than seven, and others will add to this list. However these seven seem to be the ones that most readily come to mind. Each often has its own particular meaning and each has its own goal. Sometimes the meaning is unconscious.

1. Crying of Transformation. Aristotle wrote about cathartic crying, and described it as the deepest type of cryinga type that often leads to a catharsis or a transformation of ones personality and to new insights. People may fall into transformational tears when they attend a funeral or see a tragic movie or experience a tragic event in their lives, such as the death of a loved one. The tears often become deep sobs that cannot be controlled, and once the sobs break loose they can go on for a long time, even days. Upon going through this process, one often comes up with new memories of their past, new insights, and a new perspective on life. Psychotherapy often brings out this kind of crying.

2. Crying for Joy. Crying because you feel joy or happiness can happen for at least two reasons. The first reason is simply that you feel a kind of joy or happiness you havent felt for a long time. You win the lottery, an old flame that you never expected to see again suddenly drops by or you get an award you didn&rsquot expect. The joy you feel ignites an emotional response that provokes the tears. The second reason that people cry for joy is that they are experiencing a kind of happiness (a sense of being cared about), that they lacked in the past, and therefore the tears are both of joy and sadnessjoy due to the present happiness and sadness due to the awareness of not having had it before.

3. Crying from Anger. If youve ever heard a baby cry from anger, you will know immediately what Im talking about. When babies are crying and they do not get what they need immediately their crying becomes angrier and louder. Nobody can do angry crying like a baby can, and the babys angry cry is intended to let the caretaker know that they demand your attention NOW! Some insecure caretakers take this personally and will do anything to stop the crying, which can lead to the shaken baby syndrome. Adults can do angry crying too, and their goal is the same, to let you (or the world) know you have pissed them off big time.

4. Crying from Pain. Sometimes people injure themselves and it causes extreme pain. It is a pain that is so acute that it brings tears to your eyes. Even the toughest of men, such as athletes, will break into tears when the pain is great enough. Or people can have very painful migraine headaches that cause tears. In some people, the crying may have to do with a wish for sympathy. In others it is simply a physiological reflex action of the body in response to the severe pain.

5. Crying to Manipulate. This kind of crying is sometimes called crocodile tears. It is done in order to make somebody feel guilty or to get sympathy or to stop somebody from fighting with you or disagreeing with you. One of my male clients said that whenever he saw his father grab the belt, he would start to cry right away, and sometimes that would prevent his father from actually whipping him. A husband might not want to visit his wifes relatives and the wife may cry in order to make the husband feel guilty about not liking her relatives. Or a daughter might tell her mother something critical, such as, Sometimes you make me feel depressed, and the mother will cry, Youre just saying that to hurt me.

6. Crying to Relieve Stress. Women in particular are good at this. A woman will be feeling stressed about something, often without realizing it, and will hold in the stress all day. Sometimes she may even hold on to the stress for several days. And then somebody says something seemingly innocuous such as, I never noticed it before, but your left eyebrow is lower than your right eyebrow. And the woman will suddenly burst into tears. The stress she has been holding onto comes out in this explosion of tears. There is no ulterior motive in this kind of crying. It is simply a release.

7. Crying Out of Self Pity. Sometimes people break into sobs because they are feeling sorry for themselves. A woman may hear about a friend winning the lottery and instead of feeling happy for her, she begins to cry and feel sorry for herself. Or an athlete may suffer an injury on the basketball court and while lying in bed recuperating, he continually falls into sobs of self-pity. Why did this have to happen to me? he may say to his wife when she visits. Crying out of self-pity is both a release for the person who does it and a cry for sympathy from others. However, it often does not get pity from others but instead turns them off.

According to the German Society of Ophthalmology, the average adult woman cries between 30 and 64 times a year, and the average adult man cries between 6 and 17 times a year. Men tend to cry from two to four minutes at a time and women cry about six minutes at a time. Women break into deep sobs in 65% of cases, compared to just 6% for men.

There is no difference in the crying of male and female children under 10.

Attention-Seeking Behavior in Children

Do you have an attention-addict in your home? Find out the different signs of an attention seeking child as well as effective ways you can train and correct these behaviors.

It should come as no surprise to you that one goal of your child’s misbehavior is attention. It is probably the most widely used explanation for why children misbehave. Children are generally very self-centered. Without training, they will see that their world revolves around them and you are just another planet in their solar system, available to do their bidding. This dynamic begins at birth out of a need for survival but will require modification as the child ages.

What attention-seeking behavior looks like. The old adage is true: negative attention is better than no attention. Here are some ways that children misbehave to gain attention:

• Temper tantrums (which subside when you leave the room)
• Wild or outlandish behavior (such as class clowns and physical comedians)
• Over-reacting to events or circumstances (having a disproportionate reaction)
• Playing the “victim” role in disputes with others (to garner sympathy or pity)
• Getting poor grades in order to increase parental involvement around homework time
• Lying or over-dramatizing stories or memories

What attention-seeking behavior feels like to you. If your child is acting out for attention, you will likely find yourself experiencing feelings of fatigue, exhaustion, annoyance and even resentment as you expend endless amounts of energy dealing with your high maintenance child. You also may have a nagging sense that you are being manipulated.

What his behavior tells you. An attention seeking child acts this way for one of two reasons: 1) he is, in fact, in need of more attention from you or, 2) he is desperately addicted to it.

How to correct attention-seeking behavior. You may feel there is no substance to your child’s claims that you never pay any attention to him or that you prefer his little brother over him. However, you need to do some investigating before you jump to conclusions. Not all attention is created equal. It can take different forms. If you are unsure what kind of attention is most meaningful to your child, it is recommended that you read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages of Children (or you can take an online love language assessment here). This book will help you understand how best you can communicate love to your child. Once you know, you can better understand the possible gaps in your relationship.

If you determine that you are speaking your child’s love language but he is still acting up in attention-seeking ways, you will have to make some changes. You can do this if you pay attention to your child in unexpected ways. Rather than engage him when he is having a meltdown, walk away whistling. When it is over, strike up an unrelated, light conversation. By doing this you will be removing any possible reinforcement of his attention-seeking behavior. By not revisiting it after-the-fact, you also remove any secondary gains he might get after his meltdowns (soothing hugs, comfort, etc.). To be sure, consequences must be applied if your child has broken any rules and amends must be made if he has offended anyone during his meltdown. Making sure that you engage your child during times of non-attention seeking behaviors is a great cure for an attention-addiction.

Special thanks to Yuncheng Jia (ORCID iD: for his guidance and help in data analysis and result verification of this study. Thanks are also extended to Editage ( for English language editing.

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Keywords: infant faces, avoidant attachment state, attentional bias, dot-probe paradigm, facial expression

Citation: Long N, Yu W, Wang Y, Gong X, Zhang W and Chen J (2021) Do Infant Faces Maintain the Attention of Adults With High Avoidant Attachment? Front. Psychol. 12:631751. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.631751

Received: 20 November 2020 Accepted: 22 March 2021
Published: 07 May 2021.

Nicola K. Ferdinand, University of Wuppertal, Germany

Joshua M. Carlson, Northern Michigan University, United States
Tuomo Häikiö, University of Turku, Finland

Copyright © 2021 Long, Yu, Wang, Gong, Zhang and Chen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


We would like to thank all the students enrolled in the course “Academic Competencies II” at ISCTE-IUL for their assistance with the data collection. This research was supported by The Portuguese National Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) through the Research Center CIS-IUL (Ref. UID/PSI/03125/2013).

Arriaga, P., Murteira, C., & Oliveira, R. (2019). Adults’ responses to children’s crying after a moral transgression. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 22 . e15. Doi:10.1017/sjp.2019.21


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