MY FATHER, MY SON: An Intimate Relationship by Lee Salk

MY FATHER, MY SON: An Intimate Relationship

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Prevailing wisdom has it that--regardless of how much stock you put in Freud's specifically sexual Oedipus scenario--fathers and sons are somehow locked into an inevitable mortal combat, a regrettable by-product of the male competitive instinct. But this little compendium of 30 or so interviews with sons--many of whom are now fathers themselves--pretty much demonstrates the opposite. The most striking feature is a sense of wistfulness, as if the son longed for closeness with the father, knew ""somehow"" that the father really cared, yet was not privy to physical or verbal expressions of that caring. Over and over we hear that a son knew that--despite his unfulfilled longing for a show of tenderness--his father was ""there"" if needed. And more than once we are told of a deathbed or near-deathbed declaration of love between the two men. (Mike Douglas is a striking example.) Salk, a psychological columnist and author of family-oriented advice guides (Dear Dr. Salk, What Every Child Would Like His Parents to Know), lets his subjects tell their stories in their own words; he draws from different segments of society around the country. One encouraging note for advocates of gender-role changes: to a man, the younger generation (even Mark David Chapman, whose father was emotionally unavilable) declare that they are or would be more nurturant, demonstrative fathers with sons. Such nurturing, Salk comments in a postscript, ensures not that a son will be less masculine but that he will be more masculine (though no definition of masculine is offered). A gentle, generous series of reminiscences, just right for the Salk audience.

Pub Date: May 31st, 1982
Publisher: Putnam