Tue, Aug 07, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Fathers often wary of new sons-in-law

FATHER KNOWS BEST?Daughters could play an important role in improving the sometimes difficult or complex relationship between fathers and sons-in-law

By Su Meng-chuan, Jake Chung and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writers

Members of a Greater Taichung reading club perform a skit on Sunday to announce the result of a survey showing that 64 percent of fathers and sons-in-law do not get along with each other.

Photo: Su Meng-chuan, Taipei Times

The most common issue that fathers have with their sons-in-law is that they are worried or afraid that their sons-in-law might take their daughter away, according to a recent survey conducted in the run up to the Father’s Day.

Tomorrow, Aug. 8, marks the nation’s Father’s Day. This date has been chosen because the Mandarin for the two numbers 8/8, baba (八 八), is a homophone for “father” (爸爸).

The poll, conducted by the Taichung TC Reading Association, found that 64 percent of those surveyed were of the opinion that there exists a complex psychological relationship between fathers and their sons-in-law.

Among those interviewed, 39 percent said the complexity of this relationship is caused by the father’s worry or fear that their sons-in-law could take their daughter away.

Another reason cited is that the arrival of the son-in-law in the daughter’s life takes away from the father’s role as the main male figure in the daughter’s life, the poll found, adding that another 20 percent felt a sense of loss following the introduction of a son-in-law into the family.

Fifteen percent of the interviewees felt that issues between fathers and sons-in-law arise from difficulty in communication, usually stemming from a lack of conversation topics, the survey showed.

A father’s fear that the son-in-law might harm his daughter, or that the son-in-law is not reliable enough, is another factor adding to the complexity in the relationship between father and sons-in-law, the survey added.

The association said it polled 860 men in an attempt to understand if fathers and sons-in-law have the same issues commonly seen in relationships between mothers and daughters-in-law.

According to the Executive Yuan Gender Equality Commission member Huang Rui-ju (黃瑞如), males in Taiwan are usually stereotyped as not being allowed to show any weakness or emotions.

When the daughter that he has loved and cherished for many years is about to marry, a father usually can not say anything or express his feelings, no matter how reluctant he might be, Huang said, adding that if the son-in-law is unable to learn to be considerate of his father-in-law and try to communicate with him, the father might form a negative opinion of the son-in-law, which could lead to awkward situations between father and son-in-law.

Citing as an example a wedding ceremony she attended, Huang said that during the ceremony, when several invited guests applauded how the groom and bride were a perfect match while pointing at their wedding photographs, the father of the bride poured cold water on their praises by saying “he did not deserve her.”

However, the background of the groom was not inferior in any aspect to that of the bride, Huang said, adding that the sarcastic rhetoric of the groom’s father-in-law shocked everyone.

“It takes mutual consideration and attentive listening between the groom and his father-in-law to break the long-standing complex. Sometimes it could be just a warm hug that might draw the two closer,” Huang said.

The bride could also play a key role in improving the relationship between the groom and father-in-law, by reinforcing ties between the two by reiterating how vital her father is to her life, while helping her husband to better understand her father, Huang said.

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