Travis and his father have never seen eye to eye. Shelton once told Travis’s high school principal that he was “nothing but a bother from the day he was born” (Rash 7). This statement among other things has Travis convinced that his father wants nothing to do with him. Parents are supposed to support their kids and prepare them for the harshness of the world, but this is most certainly not the case with Shelton and Travis. Shelton makes his son feel worthless and unnecessary everyday of his life. Is this cruelty a form of affection or a direct admission of hatred?
As far as Travis is concerned, his father would be perfectly content if he didn’t exist. Shelton has a history of putting Travis down and making him feel inadequate. Shelton does not understand that he is the only one in Travis’s life who he can look up to. Travis tries to seek his father’s approval but is shunned in the process. In many cases where a boy experiences lack of approval from the father, the boy has fear of embarrassment around other boys and also lack of confidence to compete in the highly competitive male identity.
This is a sign of abuse; mentally as well as physically. “Abusive fathers tend to be very controlling of their children. Being self-centered, they demand respect and unconditional love. They are insecure and are constantly looking for signs of defiance or disrespect. An abusive father may feel that a child has more power than he does and may misinterpret a child’s action as misbehavior. He therefore inflicts physical and mental abuse to regain control. An abusive father has a sense of entitlement, expecting his children to do as he says (Scott)”.
Shelton would not let Travis take any college prep or academic courses; his reason, Travis “didn’t need college to farm tobacco” (Rash 95). Shelton does not want his son to leave town and be better than he was. Parents are supposed to want and do what is best for their child. They should want their child to be better than they are, but this is not evident in Shelton’s case. “An abusive father’s involvement with his children is usually based on his own needs, focusing on activities that he likes instead of what the children may want to do.
However, his interest in his children may come and go, depending on his emotional state” (Scott). One could say that his father only wish is for Travis to take over the family business, but it is also possible that Shelton has no desire for his son success. Travis does not lack intelligence but he never led anyone to believe otherwise. He may have been hiding his intellect from his father, feeling that showing any signs of cleverness would only annoy him. “There are situations of where the child shuts down and stays in his own world.
Studies have shown a link between child abuse and delayed intellectual development. The child loses his ability to adapt to his or her environment leading to poor cognitive development. The child produces feelings of guilt, violation, loss of control and lowered self-esteem sometimes with suicidal tendencies. Common problems include emotional and behavioral problems, poor performance in school, and possible further abuse (Husted). This is evident in Travis’s case; Shelton never encouraged his son to learn or was pleased with anything he ever did.
As a result, Travis saw “laying low” and not having any ambition or dreams as his only option to avoiding his father’s wrath. Shelton seems like the “Alpha Male” type who never shows emotion and has to be the ruler of his household and everything in it. “Some fathers maltreat their children because they believe in the stereotypical role of fathers as disciplinarians. Some also feel that they have to show others that they are doing a good job as parents. Refusing to acknowledge that they may be having a tough time as parents, they take out their frustrations on the children”(Scott).
This could explain his coldness towards Travis. He could see it as a form of “tough love,” a way to harden a son who favored his mother. The problem with this is Shelton does not know how to show tough love without ostracizing his son. Shelton may feel that he is instilling the right morals and values in his son, but in reality all he does is make Travis feel less than what he is, especially when he hears Shelton make remarks like this: “Puny and sickly as a baby and nothing but trouble since” (Rash 7). Shelton was probably raised with a firm hand as well and was never emotionally attached to his father.
He could actually care deeply for Travis but his callousness prevents him from showing that love. Either way, Travis has never felt any closeness with his father and probably never will. Travis and his father have a very unhealthy relationship. “Being raised by an abusive father is perhaps the most traumatic experience that any child can go through. Unhealthy parent-child relationships can result equally from parents being too hard or too soft, too far or too close, too biased or too objective”(William).
Shelton never shows his son any type of affection and it has had a definite impact on the way he views and lives his life. Shelton may believe that this criticism and control is the way to show how much he loves and cares for Travis. Fathers are supposed to teach their sons that they can be anything but the only thing Shelton has taught Travis is that he will never amount to anything.
Husted, Harry. “Being Raised by an Abusive Father. ” (2002): n. pag. Web. 4 Mar 2011. <http://www. creatingwords. om/articles/general/abusive. htm>. Rash, Ron. The World Made Straight. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2006. 289-5. Print. Scott, Katrena. “Cause and Effects of Child Abuse . ” Library Index. Net Industries, 2009. Web. 4 Mar 2011. <http://www. libraryindex. com/pages/1391/Causes-Effects-Child-Abuse-ABUSIVE-FATHERS. html>. Williams, Glen. “Unhealthy Parent-Child Relationship. ” E Home Fellowship. EHF, n. d. Web. 4 Mar 2011. <http://www. way2hope. org/marriage-parenting/unhealthy-child-relationship. htm>.