Wednesday, October 04, 2023
I wanted some advice on maintaining a healthy relationship with my father. Even though I love and care him for a lot, he is also someone who tests my patience every other day. One moment, we'd be having a good time and the next we'd be arguing like enemies. He can burst into anger at any given time, even while discussing the most minor matters. When talking to him, it feels like I'm walking on eggshells.
If he's upset for whatever reason, one can expect him to lose his temper at anyone, all of a sudden. He's extremely entitled and his behaviour can get very unreasonable. My mother thinks the reason why my father and I don't get along is also because of my own temperament. I'm also very short-tempered, but it's largely because my father expects all of us to give in to his behaviour, so it's my way to rebel.
My siblings, too, have gotten sick of his behaviour and can also get aggressive with him. It's like we're all just waiting to yell at each other at any given point. I don't want him to think that I'm a disobedient daughter, but I also want him to respect me, my mother and my siblings. Please advise how to navigate this relationship.
— An angry daughter
Dealing with a disrespectful parent can be challenging. While I hear how much he means to you and how much you care and love him I also hear that it has a negative impact on your relationship with yourself and others.
First and foremost, to understand the things you can control vs those you can’t.
How do you differentiate? The things in your control are those in your direct locus of control that you have autonomy over. While the ones out of your control are those pertaining to your external situation.
Let’s have a look at how we can relate this to your situation.
In your situation, your father's reactions and responses are not something you can control. You have no power over how he behaves, what his responses are and how he reacts.
So what are the things you can control? These entail your actions, how you take care of yourself, your boundaries, how you speak to yourself, how you meet your own needs, your expectations, how you respond and the thoughts you choose to breed.
Let's break down and see a few things that can be done.
Focus on self-care activities: Prioritise your mental health and manage your stress — explore and assess what that may look like for you. Your needs may be different from others. For example, seeing a therapist, building a strong support network and exercising, etc.
Set boundaries: Boundaries are limits on what we allow and do not allow. Boundaries in your situation could look like managing your responses, choosing how you behave, what you choose to respond to, and removing yourself from the physical space. Know when to disengage.
Communicate: When both of you are calm, let him know how his behaviour impacts you and how it makes you feel. Use “I” worded statements to express how this behaviour impacts you. For example, you can say, "I feel hurt when you yell at me," instead of directly blaming or accusing him.
Every time we focus on the things that are beyond our control we keep increasing our worry, stress and become fixated on outcomes and eventually end up losing our power, living from a helpless victim state.
Remember that you cannot control your father's behaviour, but you can control how you react to it. Focus on taking care of yourself and seeking support to help you navigate this challenging situation.
MANTRA TO REPEAT: When I focus on the things I can control, I am in the driving seat of my life.
Haya Malik is a psychotherapist, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner, corporate well-being strategist and trainer with expertise in creating organisational cultures focused on well-being and raising awareness around mental health.
Send her your questions to [email protected]
Note: The advice and opinions above are those of the author and specific to the query. We strongly recommend our readers to consult relevant experts or professionals for personalised advice and solutions. The author and Geo.tv do not assume any responsibility for the consequences of actions taken based on the information provided herein.