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What constitutes a good father son relationship? In Pattaya,father son bonding may mean father son pickupsor father son seductions. There is no single way to define a father son relationship.

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Like Father, Like Son
Like Father, Like Son

What constitutes a healthy father-son relationship?

Baseball games in the park.   Trips to the amusement park.   Camping vacations by tranquil lakes.  Swimming games in the local pool.  

Take a deep breath.  Now imagine marijuana joints passed around by the campfire.  The toasting of two beer mugs during a night of intoxification.   Two women -- a middle-aged one and her twentysomething daughter -- being led arm in arm back to two adjoining hotel rooms.  

Which father-son images would you rather have in your memory banks?  (Or, if a woman, what mother-daughter images?)

I take it for granted that most of us have been raised with or at least been fed as the ideal the first set.    Our parents were authority figures.  They set boundaries.  We both admired and feared them.  They rewarded us when we did good and punished us when we didn't. 

As children, we actually want boundaries.  We may beg our parents to stay up late and consume junk food in humungous quantities and be disappointed when they refuse our every demand, but deep down, we secretly want them to draw lines in the sand beyond which we cannot cross.   If they did not, we would feel like we were growing up without a guide.

There is no one universal parenting method, no absolutely correct way for a parent to raise a child.  I would take for granted that most readers had father-son (or mother-daughter) relationships which more closely resembled baseball games in the park than discussions about life over freebase cocaine.  But as I've gotten older, I've observed more and more unusual father-son relationships, with the son looking no worse for wear for it.

When I spent a year in Australia, I happened to get invited to a surfer dude's 24th birthday party in Adelaide.  His father drove me and two of his friends to the bar where strippers were promised to appear, and during the drive, the son was discussing his newly picked up 18-yr old girlfriend with his father.  The conversation went something like this:

FATHER:   You sure you want to get shacked up with this young sheila (derogatory Australian slang for a woman).  There're a lot of girls you should be rooting (Australian slang for copulating). 

SURFER DUDE SON:   I really like her, pop.

FATHER:  The eyes stray, son.  Like tonight.   The bar'll be chockers full of strippers.  You'll want to root a bunch of 'em.  I know I will. 

SURFER DUDE SON:  My eyes don't wander all that much.

FATHER:   By your third beer, you'll have your hand down one of them girl's knickers and I'll be taking photos to prove it.

Let's compare that to my background.  My own father and I never drove to see strippers together on any of my birthdays.  We've never talked about roaming our hands along women's panty lines and snapping photos to share with buddies.

Recently, I have found out that a friend of a friend, call him Tim, has a father living in Pattaya, a Thai city located on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand.   Pattaya has a reputation as the Sex Capital of the Universe.  Even Martians and Venusians and Neptunians journey here for pickups.   Tim and his father routinely go prowling for females together and give each other high fives when they both succeed.  Tim's father has picked up a woman concurrently with Tim picking up that woman's daughter. 

My own widowed father and I have never done similar activities together.

Perhaps I'm being too close minded here.   Bean, the friend of mine who personally knows Tim, says that he has a very distant relationship with his father; if Bean ever has a son, he'll show him the ropes about everything.   If his underaged son wants to try a beer, Bean will pour the first glass.  Opium, Bean will offer the first whiff.   Bean's attitude is that his son will try all these things anyway if he really wants to.  Why not try them in the company of a caring and supportive father?

And he went further.  Why shouldn't father and son go out on the pickup circuit together?  Bean distilled everything down to the caveman basics.  Biologically, each organism strives to propagate its DNA into the next generation.   It makes perfect sense that a father would assist a son in propagating his own DNA, especially considering that half the son's DNA is inherited from the dad.    

Cultural conditioning is what stands in my way of accepting father-son bar hops and dope sessions as normal.  My father, like all parents, defined my boundaries, and those boundaries did not encompass us passed out in the gutter together after a weekend bender.  Other fathers, like Tim's, drew different boundaries.  Is one set of boundaries superior to another? 

It does require a completely different style of raising the child.  I don't fathom a kid could have a conventional upbringing; then when he turns 21, the father magically changes into a drinking buddy and pickup wingman.  An unorthodox reward-punishment scheme would've had to be put in place when the child was still very young.   Clearly, if a man's going to get to the stage of pickups with his son, this can't be the same son he beat with a belt for not doing his homework and grounded for a week after he caught him smoking cigarettes in the garage.   

And even if a father raises his son more like a buddy than as a typical child, there're other issues to contend with.  If the father remains married to the son's mother, it's that much more difficult to bring up the son Tim-style.  The mother has to be on the same page as the father for raising the son as more like a friend.   Joint pickups would most likely be out.   What sons who were good old fashioned pals with their moms would condone and assist in their fathers illicit seductions?  The same obstacles apply even if the father and mother are divorced or separated.  As long as the son maintains a decent relationship with the mother, picking up side-by-side with daddy stands to be problematic.  It seems to me that the mother would have to be deceased or feel very distant from the son for father-son bar bonding to be cranked up to the next level. 

I think most sons, if given the choice, would still opt for a traditional father, a trad-dad if you will.  They really wouldn't trade their dads for a dad like Tim's.  You can find plenty of bar-hop buds and seduction associates, but you only have one father.  However, they would prefer their fathers to be more active in their lives and treat them more like peers.   They want trad-dad with just an accent of Tim-dad.   Bean says that the bulk of his parental relationship rests with his mother, and that makes sense.  When Bean and I were young, it was normal for only the father to be out of the house earning a living.  Nearly all of the upbringing was carried out by the mother.    

I look at parenting a lot like managing.  Plenty of mangers do not socialize with their subordinates.  They feel that if they become too close to the people who work under them, the workers will stop viewing them as an authority figure and thus be harder to manage.   Yet there are other managers who want to be loved by their staff and use this loyalty to get their subordinates to follow them.   Management requires a person to develop his own style of walking between the roles of superior and peer.  And what is parenting but child management? 

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, and I suppose that a father who's decided over decades how he walks with his son won't suddenly -- or possibly ever --  be able to alter that relationship.   It'll surely make a new father think twice about how he acts when he takes home his newborn son from the hospital for the first time. 

If you liked reading this, consider:
 Are You Really As Old As You Feel?
 How Good Were The Good Old Days Really? Part I.
 The Complete Article Index