I love with my dad and his long term girlfriend who is practically a mother to me than my own one is. I have always felt like the relationship between me and my parents has gotten slowly worse with age and I feel like there’s this power struggle going on with my dad mainly. I don’t know if I am to blame, if there’s things I can do to improve on the relationship other than sit and just avoid any contact with him, which hasn’t worked or just bend to every rule he makes. He has this very aggressive, controlling nature, using respect as a weapon against any lack of discipline towards him. I respect his house and his rules to a degree, but he makes a lot up as he goes and uses respect, or what he calls lack of respect, for him as a way to manipulate any situation to make me feel like I’m the one in the wrong. I have grown up with the notion of respect being a two way street but also to respect your parents, however I have never respected my birth mother due to her complete lack of human empathy towards anyone other than herself. However I have always respected him, to an extent feared him and it’s been that way for years however I can no longer deal with the sheer stress of living with this and he refuses to acknowledge when he is wrong and believes I am so arrogant and stuck up when I believe I am right when standing up for myself against him. I don’t know what I can do to improve the situation. He’s a good man, he’s always looked after me and taken care of me as any parent should however he has such an aggressive, controlling attitude to everything in his life that it’s just getting to a very toxic point in our lives. However I am the one being blamed for it and not him as well, which makes me depressed and think that maybe there is something wrong with me that I just don’t realise so I really don’t know what to do in this scenario.
It would be helpful to have an objective evaluation of the situation. You may be right about your father and he might be entirely to blame. It’s also possible that you are contributing to the problems in this relationship, but without an objective third-party assessment it’s difficult to make that determination.
One solution to this problem is individual counseling. This would involve you going to see a therapist on your own. Another option is family therapy. If your father is open to it, this might be a good way to sort through these problems. Given how you described your father, he may not be open to family therapy. It wouldn’t hurt to ask. If he’s not open to it, then try individual counseling. Family therapy may be the ideal but individual counseling could help a great deal.
The good thing about counseling is that you get to meet with an experienced professional who can provide you with an objective opinion on this matter. The analysis the comes from good psychotherapy can help to clarify your situation. The therapist could also assist you in learning better ways to interact with your father. Clearly, something needs to change but without more information and further analysis, it is unclear as to how to proceed.
The bottom line is that this seems to be a power struggle. There are likely other factors involved. Understanding the power dynamics between the two of you will be important in knowing how to move forward.
One thing is certain, if you’re living with your father, it may be time to move out. You stated that you “respect his house and his rules to a degree” which made me think that you might still be living in his home. If so, your moving out could significantly improve the dynamics of your relationship. He might gain respect for you if he saw you developing more independence.
Also, the fact that you follow his rules only “to a degree” could be part of the problem. It’s not clear what those rules are and if you should be following them entirely or “to a degree.” Again, more information and analysis are necessary.
If your father is as controlling and aggressive as you have described him to be, it might be in your best interest to keep your distance. When someone’s unwilling to change, then it is you who must adapt. If your interaction with him is problematic, then it would be wise to limit the time you spend with him.
I wish that I had more specific guidance I could offer you but that’s impossible to do over the Internet. There’s a great deal of information that would need to be acquired in order to give you the most appropriate advice. That is why in-person counseling is the ideal solution to this problem. It’s the best way to acquire the necessary guidance for interacting with difficult people. It will also help to resolve the depression you’re feeling as a result of this situation. I hope that you will give it a try. Good luck and please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle