About the Book

Michael J. Diamond, Ph.D.The poet William Wordsworth wrote, "The Child is father of the Man." Wordsworth may only have meant to point out that our childhoods influence our adult lives, but in My Father Before Me psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist Michael J. Diamond looks at this aphorism from a fascinating angle, exploring how children—and sons in particular—influence their fathers. For decades we believed that mothers were the only real influence on children. But while we've finally recognized that the father, too, has an impact, we've long neglected this important dynamic.

Diamond investigates the reciprocity of the father/son relationship based on his own experiences as a father, a son, and a clinician. His conclusions not only offer insight into the ways in which fathers and sons influence each other but also provide an entirely new way of looking at fatherhood and masculinity. Diamond shows that becoming a father changes the way in which a man develops; in turn the father influences the son throughout both of their lives. In chapters that analyze each stage of the life cycle for both father and son, Diamond demonstrates the power of this relationship in shaping the man and the boy, as well as the man the boy will become.

"My Father Before Me is a tour de force of scientific wisdom, practical suggestions for parents, poignant stories that move us deeply, and a model for understanding the incredibly powerful emotional forces of fathers upon their sons, and sons, in turn, upon their fathers."
William S. Pollack, Ph.D., author of Real Boys: Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood and Real Boys' Voices

This analysis leads Diamond to a nonlinear concept of adult development, one that ebbs and flows as fathers try to help their children grow while revisiting their relationships with their own parents, and then in turn attempting to redefine their relationship with their partners. But in order for fathers to understand their children and their partners, he argues, they need to access those parts of themselves they previously ignored—the ones that came into conflict with society's idea about what it means to be "a man." Diamond jettisons the traditional constraints of manhood, calling for a more flexible and inclusive notion of masculinity, one that sons are largely responsible for helping their fathers accept. By encouraging fathers and sons to embrace this new concept together, Diamond offers a way for men and boys to become more comfortable with their whole selves as they grow and change.

Diamond brings together decades of research and analysis of fathers, sons, and families—both his own work and that of others—in a book that fathers, sons, and anyone who wants to better understand them must read.

My Father Before Me
It's hard for a man to imagine, holding his newborn son in his arms, that one day this boy will go off to kindergarten by himself, learn to drive, establish a career, have children of his own, and eventually grow old. Yet our experience as parents is infused with the notion that the closer we hold our children, the more we know that eventually we have to let them go. And if we occasionally forget this essential fact, our children remind us. They wriggle and squirm out of our arms, out of the curfews we try to impose on them, and shut their ears to the sound advice we try to offer them. Exultation and loss are inextricably bound. The simultaneous experience of joy and sadness, as we watch our children grow and leave home, is the very circle of life.
Excerpt from My Father Before Me
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