The Truth About Elon Musk's Relationship With His Father

Dads can be — how shall we phrase this? — difficult. As sci-fi author Frank Herbert wrote in his classic novel Dune, "There is probably no more terrible instant of enlightenment than the one in which you discover your father is a man — with human flesh." It's a rite of passage we all have to go through, but for some, the sins of the father are categorically unforgivable. Such is the case with the prolific inventor Elon Musk and his father, Errol. The relationship between the two has grown so sour that Showbiz Cheat Sheet compared it to "a storyline in a soap opera."

But you don't end up calling your dad "a terrible human being" because of the usual generational gripes. The feud is a bit more contentious than your usual daddy-never-hugged-me resentment. There is actually a whole slew of pretty good reasons for the Tesla CEO's rancorous relationship with his father, and Elon listed a few — and only hinted at others — in a 2017 interview with Rolling Stone. He described his childhood as "miserable," claiming that his dad was capable of carrying out "evil" deeds. "He was such a terrible human being," Musk said. "You have no idea. My dad will have a carefully thought-out plan of evil. He will plan evil." That actually sounds about right for the father of the eccentric billionaire whose innovations have changed life on Earth as we know it. Maybe this should be a soap opera. We'd watch that.

Elon would never amount to anything, said his father

During his childhood, Elon told Rolling Stone, his father was verbally abusive to him. Errol Musk had no faith in his son and told him so on the regular. When Elon moved to Canada with a head full of dreams, Errol believed his son would be back with his tail between his legs within a few months. Elon was never going to make it, his father told him. "He called me an idiot all the time," said Elon, adding that such hurtful words were only "the tip of the iceberg." That "idiot" went on to found the extremely successful companies Tesla and SpaceX and also invented the technologies that allow us to make online payments, phone calls, and restaurant searches.

For his part, Errol Musk told The Daily Mail that his son needed to "grow up" and stop referring to him as evil. "He needs to get over himself. I'm not going to hit back. I'm going to wait until he comes to his senses. He's having a tantrum, like a spoilt child. He can't have what he wants and now I am apparently an evil monster." He admitted that the time he shot and killed three home intruders (for which he was acquitted on grounds of self-defense) may have been the "evil" thing Elon was referring to, adding, "I'm not an evil person." But Elon did say "plan," so who knows what else Errol is capable of?

Musk Sr.'s murky behavior

Elon's difficult relationship with his father began long before the birth of Musk's half-brother Elliot was born in 2017, but the story of that child doesn't necessarily help Errol's case. According to The Sunday Times of London, Errol met the mother of child that he would go on to say was "God's plan" when she was just four years old. She was the daughter of Errol's ex-wife Heide. That's right: Elon Musk's father had a child with his stepdaughter, a woman over 40 years younger than him. One could always argue that age is just a number, but with one's own stepdaughter? The evidence appears to be piling up in Elon's case against his father. Errol has claimed to love Elon and all his children, but the facts and his son's testimony beg to differ.

According to Harper's Bazaar, Errol conveniently doesn't see his stepdaughter as his stepdaughter. Although he met the girl as a little girl, he said she was raised "for long periods of time" outside of the home he shared with her mom. "We were lonely, lost people," he said. "One thing led to another – you can call it God's plan or nature's plan." Still, Errol reportedly needed DNA evidence of the divine intervention.

"Almost every crime you can possibly think of, he has done," Elon told Rolling Stone. And the more you learn about the things Errol Musk has done during his 74 years of life, the more you start to see what Elon is talking about. "Almost every evil thing you could possibly think of, he has done. It's so terrible, you can't believe it." No Elon, we're starting to believe it.