Sir Elton John's father didn't approve of his singing career and never went to see him perform.
The cold relationship has spurred him to tell his sons he loves them every day and shower them with the affection he never received.
Sir Elton took a swipe at his late father Stanley Dwight while giving a speech in which he said a lack of love had led him to drink and drugs.
The 68-year-old said his father "never told me that he loved me ever" adding that his relationship with sons Zachary, 4, and Elijah, 2, was far closer.
"I never stop telling them I love them, and they never stop telling me they love me," he said.
Elton believed their words proved he was doing "a good job" in raising balanced children with husband David Furnish, 53. The kids were born to a surrogate mother.
Sir Elton, who has not spoken to his 90-year-old mother Sheila Farebrother for 7 years, made his comments while addressing students at the Oxford Union.
Speaking of his father, who died in 1991, said: "He never told me he loved me, he didn't hold me, and he didn't come to see me perform.
"He was taught that love had limits. You don't show it in public. You don't even show it in private. And if your son isn't quite like you, and he's pretty different from you in fact, then your love becomes cut off and inexpressible."
He said his father did not support his singing career and instead wanted him to be a banker or civil servant.
Sir Elton added: "I've spent the rest of my life trying to prove to my father that I was a success. He's been dead [for] years and I'm still trying to prove the point. It stays with you.
"And when we had our own children, I never stopped telling them I loved them, and they never stop telling me they love me.
"My son Zachary the other day said, 'I love you all the way up to God'. He trots it out on a regular basis in different guises, and so does Elijah. And it means to me that we're doing a good job raising our children, that they feel loved, that they feel nurtured, that they feel tactile love as well as verbal love."
The singer spoke candidly about the hurt he felt after his father remarried and had four children to whom "he was so loving with in a way that he never was with me".
He said the rejection he felt led him to take cocaine and drink "enough alcohol to burn New Orleans" before becoming sober in his 40s.
- Daily Mail