How Verbal Abuse from Fathers Affects Sons

October 28, 2021 Cheryl Wozny

The father-son relationship is a critical one as a boy grows into an adult. A negative male role model may alter the way a boy handles stress and deals with adversity. For example, when a father uses verbal abuse to correct his son, feelings of inadequacy and anxiety can be present into adulthood.

A father is typically the primary role model for boys in the family. How this figurehead talks to other family members and treats individuals outside the home is what a son will measure his life experiences to. Often, a boy who continuously faces verbal abuse will believe that this behavior is normal and acceptable for men. 

Effects on Boys 

A boy who conveys his emotions in a verbally abusive relationship may receive ridicule and taunting. A verbally abusive father may make these comments: 

  • Boys/Men don't cry. Quit your crying like a baby.
  • Suck it up and stop acting like a girl.
  • Do you need your Mommy? 

When a child shows any emotion, they should receive support and understanding. This attention is especially vital for boys who can face conflicting information about how to act and behave when they are an adult. 

Boys aspire to be the man their father is in many ways. Whether they want to be tall, strong, or smart, many youngsters will repeat the same behaviors they see in their fathers in hopes of being like them. 

Grown-up Men with Boy Problems 

Boys who do not receive the proper love and support from their fathers may grow into adult men who have unresolved issues. Some of the ways childhood verbal abuse shows in adults can be: 

  • Acting similarly abusive to their children or others in their life
  • Difficulty maintaining close personal relationships with others
  • Suffering from social anxiety or depression
  • Low self-esteem or self-confidence in their abilities 
  • Unable to control their emotions 
  • Physical pain for no apparent reason

Many men who experience these problems are unaware of the root cause. They may believe that they had a good childhood and that their father did not act abusively. Even with the lack of physical abuse, a boy can still harbor serious emotional complications when he grows up with a verbally abusive father. 

There Is Help Available 

No man should be afraid to seek the help and support he needs to feel better. Emotional wellbeing is critical for all individuals, and anyone suffering from the ill effects of verbal abuse is entitled to help. Learning how to process and deal with the damage of an abusive father from your childhood can be a long and challenging journey, but it is a worthwhile one. 

Many local mental health resources can get you in touch with someone in your area who will provide the tools necessary to begin the healing process. You do not have to live with the effects of your past any longer. When you start the path of healing, you can begin to find peace in your life, and your emotional and physical health will be better for it. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2021, October 28). How Verbal Abuse from Fathers Affects Sons, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including a mental health resource for children, titled Why Is My Mommy So Sad? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and on her blog

February, 27 2022 at 1:34 pm

I was always told to "hurry up" as a little boy and I "wasn't moving fast enough to suit me (my father)" . It was a joke that my middle name was "hurry up Eric". Considering that my parents divorced at the age of two after a verbally and physically abusive marriage, mostly over my father's job loss and the fact he never wanted kids, and a older brother that resented me being born ( he began wetting the bed after I was born).
Do you think this would cause me to have problems then and possibly into adulthood ?

February, 28 2022 at 1:43 pm

Hello Eric, I am Cheryl, author of the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog here at HealthyPlace. Thank you for bravely reaching out here. I am not a professional and cannot provide any medical or psychiatric advice as to any individual's feelings or circumstances. However, I can talk about what I know and have been through and experienced myself. There are also studies that correlate how childhood trauma and situations can affect or alter how a child grows into an adult and how they perceive the world and function. For myself, I have constantly battled low self-esteem and attachment issues. I know now, after years of therapy, that much of these feelings come from my childhood. I urge you to check out some resources online or local to you for guidance. You can find some helpful ones on our Resources Page here:…. I wish you a healthy and happy future.

June, 20 2022 at 7:37 am

Hi Cheryl,
My father was a really practical man with his hands whereas I hated this type of work. He was a senior rank in the fire brigade so was often dressing up like a peacock in full uniform.
I was told unless I did well at school I would end up being a dustman (trash man) and he taunted me with this very often. I was also mocked by him if I showed emotions with my father calling me "Jennifer" (a girls name that had no other significance) if I was hurt or upset etc.
I was the middle child of three age wise the other two being sisters.
If my father thought I was bad he would take me into the garden and whip me with a belt (he never touched my sisters).
My youngest sister remembers my mother sobbing whilst watching my father beating me but, my Mother never ever intervened at any point ever.
I have grown up a successful man work wise based on my being terrified to fail after my childhood taunting.
I recall my sisters telling me in adult life that they were surprised at my helping my father whenever I could considering how cruel he was to me, so I assume things were worse than I can remember (I do not recall much of my childhood which I am told by my therapist is my brain blocking horrible memories to keep me safe.
I realise also now that my father was a narcissist as it was always about him and his arrogance conforms with all I have read on the subject.
I did start drinking alcohol at around 13 years old (Cider initially) and I stopped alcohol at the age of 60 years old and found I was unstable with hypervigilance, anxiety, recurring thoughts, negative thinking etc which I believe after research that drinking alcohol was due to my need to "self medicate" and numb my emotions.
Sorry this is a long ramble but I wanted to explain how an awful parent can destroy a life due to his own mental health issues, which sad as it is is not the victims fault.
Thank you for you site.

June, 20 2022 at 12:33 pm

Hello Bill, I am Cheryl Wozny, author of the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog here at HealthyPlace. Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story. I am sorry to hear of your abusive past and how you had to cope with your circumstances. It takes courage to tell others of your situation and I am glad to hear that you stopped alcohol at 60. It shows that you are taking the steps to heal so you can help manage your emotions better and find peace in your life. I encourage you to find resources in your area or visit our Resources page…. Here you can use hotlines and offices that can provide the support you need as you continue your healing journey to better mental health. Be well.

September, 20 2022 at 11:09 am

Hello Cheryl,
Thank you for this article. I'm 30 years old and after reading your article I can say that the root cause of my lack of self esteem and anxiety is due to my father. I also feel this is the reason why I have no desire to get married or have children. I guess I'm scared of turning into him.
My father was an okay father when he wanted to but I always felt he had anger issues and a drinking problem. He was always a hard worker in all of his jobs but he was easily irritated over the smallest things. Growing up in a Mexican household, we had tortillas with all of our meals and I remember once were he was mad that the tortillas that my mom was cooking were too hot. He yelled at my mom and demanded a cold tortilla to eat. I witnessed many times where he would verbally and physically attack my mom. I remember I would hide in my room and pretend I was asleep and wrap a pillow around my ears. As a child I don't remember crying when I was hiding but as I'm typing this, a few tears are running down my face.
My relationship with my father now is okay. We do talk to each other but I don't feel a connection like a father and son should have. I have a lot of resentment towards him and I prefer to not be around him much. I hate that all of his friends and family think he's a wonderful and helping person, if only they knew who he really was. Anyways, I guess that's life.
Thank you again and I look forward to reading more of your resources. Just this article has helped me tremendously.

September, 20 2022 at 1:27 pm

Hello Antonio, thank you for reaching out and sharing your story. It takes a lot of courage and strength to talk about your experiences. I am happy to hear that you are finding value in our content here at HealthyPlace. I encourage you to check out our resources page… for helpful tools as you continue your healing journey.

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