Neil’s relationship with his father lacks the love and support that adolescents need in order to make well-founded decisions throughout life. Daniel Hart (1992) explains that adolescents must interact and communicate with the same-sex parent in order to develop mentally (p. 44). Hart states that, "…fathers who are involved in their sons' lives and who model a wide variety of competent actions will be identified with strongly" (Hart p. 44). Neil cannot identify with his father, due to a lack of positive support and involvement in his life. Hart concludes that without this relationship, adolescent males will have a mental disadvantage in life, especially during their teenage years. Neil and his father frequently disagree about Neil’s activities, but Mr. Perry never gives his son the opportunity to explore his options. Because Neil and his father do not share any dreams or aspirations, they cannot relate to each other or communicate.
The pressures placed on Neil by his father and society, serve as a primary cause of Neil’s distant relationship with his father [click here to see an example of this pressure]. Adolescents like Neil face a tremendous amount of increasing stress, primarily academic (Kirtland, 1999). Social worker Marilynn McSeventy describes academic pressure stating, "too often we use criteria to judge children…We separate the good from the bad or the smart from the stupid. When we categorize and label, it creates a tremendous amount of pressure for children" (Kirtland, p. 25). Neil’s father, with hopes of improving his son's future and his own future, places such extreme pressures on Neil to do well academically and become a doctor. Such pressures often prevent adolescents from developing their own individuality (Kirtland, 1999).
A conversation between Neil and his father at the beginning of the school year exemplifies such a situation. Neil’s father, believes that Neil focuses on extracurricular activities rather than his studies, so he forces him to quit the school yearbook. He angrily demands to Neil, "After you have finished medical school you are on your own and you can do as you damn well please. But until then you do as I say." Neil exhibits a look of fear, and decides to step down from his father's commands and replies with, "I am sorry. You know me, always taking on too much" [click here to view this scene]. The conversation not only reveals the pressures placed on Neil by his father, but also the dominance Neil’s father uses over him to exert this pressure. These pressures obviously affect Neil by adding stress to his life and changing his perception of his father.
As parental pressure increases, Neil also attempts to develop a new identity, which conflicts with his father's views and leads to his rebellion. The most significant stage of development from infancy through adolescence lies between the ages of seventeen and twenty-two (Hart, 1992). During this time, adolescents strive to define