Adult sons' perception of the father-son relationship after their fathers have entered a nursing home: A preliminary investigation

Hal Fales (1994)

This was an exploratory study of the adult son's perceptions of the father-son relationship after their fathers have entered a nursing home. Five adult sons whose fathers entered nursing homes from six months to four years previously were interviewed in depth to elicit data about their perception of the father-son relationship at this time and its relationship to their experience of self, their experience of the father, their experience of the father-son relationship over time and their experience of the impending death of their father. Each of the sons showed some reluctance to be vulnerable as was suggested by the literature. Three themes emerged: One, a seeming tendency for the sons to replace a lack of expressed intimacy in the father-son relationship with an idealization of the father; two, a surprising lack of shift or major change in the son's perceptions of the dynamic of the father-son relationship, despite changes in the son's role and in the condition of the father; and three, sons exhibited little urgency to gain appreciation of the father and little resentment for perceived lackings of the father, as suggested by the literature. Theoretical, clinical and research implications are discussed.