Why Won’t My Husband Talk To His Son About Depression?

Why Won't My Husband Talk To His Son About Depression?

Teen depression has been on the increase in recent years. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 5.7% of adolescents that had a major depressive episode in 2014 were male. As if this wasn’t worrying enough, another poll revealed that almost half of teenage boys (49%) between ages 16-18 felt uncomfortable talking to their fathers about mental health issues.

That last statistic raises the question “Why do most dads feel uncomfortable talking to their sons about depression or other mental or emotional issues?”

Strained Father-Son Relationships

To get the answer, you need to look at how differently men and women are socialized. From the time they’re small, girls are encouraged to express their feelings while boys are frowned upon for doing so. For a man, being emotional is considered wimpy and unmanly. Men are brought up thinking that they need to be tough and stoic and any excessive displays of emotion are deemed to be a show of weakness.

This creates problems later on. You see, boys who grow up suppressing their emotions often go on to become detached and emotionally unavailable dads who erroneously believe that any show of emotion towards their kids means that they’re weak. This attitude is then passed on to their sons who in turn grow up repressing their emotions, creating a negative cycle that’s difficult to break.

The inability to express emotions is at the heart of most strained father-son relationships. Dads who are uncomfortable talking about their feelings are just as unlikely to discuss depression and other mental illnesses with their sons.

Teenage boys on the other hand, are often reluctant to initiate such discussions due to fear, shame and the stigma associated with a mental health problem.

Finding A Solution

The good news is that all’s not lost. There are several things you can do, as a father, to help your depressed son.

  • Cultivating a strong father-son relationship. The best way to do this is to find a hobby or common interest you can bond over such as camping, fishing or sports. Participating in this activity together will give you time to talk and create a healthy relationship with your son, thereby encouraging him to open up on any issues he might have.
  • Being present and involved in your son’s life. Instead of being a distant father, take an active interest in your son’s life. Ask about his hobbies, studies, friends, etc. and also talk about your own life. Research shows that teenage boys are likely to have fewer behavior problems if their fathers are active in their lives.
  • Becoming a positive mental health role model. Sons take cues from their fathers on how to behave so it is important that you model positive behavior for him to emulate.

If you need more help with your troubled teen, we at Liahona Academy are ready to assist. Contact us today.

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