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Anna, Social Worker
Category: Relationship
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Experience:  29 years experience in addictions & mental health. I'll tell you my honest opinion.
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How can I improve my relationship with my father

Customer Question

Hello. Ever since I was in my early teens I have felt like I am not able to openly communicate with my dad. I don't share any information with him about anything going on in my life, we don't hug, don't tell eachother I love you or I don't ask him for help of any kind. (last time I did which was years ago when I was in college, he went off on me and I haven't asked him for a thing ever since). I am currently living with him at the moment as well, so it makes it even more difficult. We had an argument and when I was expressing how I felt, he told me to get out of the house. Even though I know it was out of anger, it still upset me. He is very nonresponsive and sometimes talks as if he knows everything. At times, he also talks down to people. He is the type of person that thinks he is always right. Being around him is like walking on eggshells. And it's not just with me, it's with our whole family. It has affected his relationship with my mother as well (they are separated) and I feel as his daughter I shouldn't have to feel this way. I understand that you can't really change people but he is retiring next year and I want to spend more time with him without feeling uncomfortable. I fear a very over the top reaction from him if I tell him how I feel so, how do I go about doing it? And I am his only child too. Thank you.

Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Anna replied 6 years ago.

Hi missdi,

I don't think you'll be able to improve your relationship with your father from what you've said. If he were open to a relationship that truly included the real you, it would have happened years ago. What is more a question is why do you want to improve a relationship with a person who doesn't like you, won't give to you, doesn't want to know who you are and what you feel, and is nonresponsive?

The only way you can spend time with him and not be uncomfortable is if you shut down even more of yourself when you're near him and give him everything he wants. It sounds to me like you're hooked into this approval-seeking quest with him, and he snipes you big time. That has got to be very painful for you.

There is a great book called Walking on Eggshells, and another, Trapped in The Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists that you might want to check out. It might help you understand your father's problem better, and his limitations.

If you want to be around him more, you're going to have to understand that interpersonal relationships are not something he intends to put his energy into. A very distant, polite relationship might work, but you're going to have to let him have his way and let him control the relationship for it to work.

Be careful with your heart in this, Miss Di - Everyone wants to have a relationship with their father and to feel their father's love and approval. Not every man is capable of doing that, and it sounds like your father may not be able to give you more than he already has.

My best to you in this.


Edited by Anna on 1/1/2010 at 4:40 AM EST

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