Dr. Conte –
I enjoyed your talk on KDKA. I have a question. My ex-husband left our family when my children were seven and ten years old. My boys are now 28 and 30 years old. My 30-year-old has made a connection with his father but my 28-year-old is very angry still. Would you please recommend a book about anger that I could send to my 28 year old son? He is angry that when he was a child there was no one around to teach him how to shave or date a girl or those kinds of things that a father teaches their son. Thank you very much.
Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so sorry to hear about the internal suffering your 28-year-old son is experiencing. Anger can be a heavy burden to carry. It’s certainly understandable that he would be hurt by his father not being there for him as a child. That your older son handled his father not being there differently shows his younger brother that handling their father’s absence can be done in a different way (that is certainly not to say in any way, shape or form that there is a “right” way to handle that absence, only to hopefully inspire your younger son to see that change is possible). The anger your younger son is holding onto is likely causing him more suffering than it is your ex-husband, so my hope for your younger son would be that he explore what meaning his life has in spite of his father not being there for him. He did make it to 28 years old, so that alone shows that he has strength in him that he might not even realize.
My Tackling Life Podcast
partner and NFL legend, Ray Lewis, talks openly about his own father not being there for him as a child. For Ray, his father’s absence only drove him to excel in sports and to ultimately excel at being a father who is constantly present for his own children. Of course no one can fully understand the magnitude of your younger son’s experience of pain but himself, but my thought is that if he reaches out (or even looks about), he will likely see that many others share a similar (albeit different) experience. Sometimes, even if we can’t find comfort in others, we can at least find support in them. I certainly hope your son is able to find the support he needs to help him release the burden of anger he’s carrying.
I definitely hope this helps.
Sending you and your family all the best.
*Names have been changed for privacy.