establishing limitations with a father who is harsh

Query Your Own Problem!

Writer’s Response

I’m not sure what to do with my uncle any longer. I was 15 when my parents split up, and I moved in with my father. He always treated me poorly, mistreated me in every way, coerced me into believing anyone, and even turned me against my mother. During the marriage, everything he said to me turned out to be about him and not about her. I therefore trusted him for six years before getting married and leaving at the age of 22. Everything he said turned out to be a rest. He has changed me so drastically that I can’t help but feel bad about whatever. I blame myself for all, I find it impossible to laugh at jokes, and I constantly put myself down and think I have to do everything in order to win my father’s approval. My marriage to my husband is currently being destroyed by it. I have to visit my dad once a week, visit him every day, and comply with all of his requests. I’ve made numerous attempts to put an end to it, but each time he fights back, I am unable to speak; instead, the man yells, argues, and even threatens to hit me. And each day I cry, I come back to him. I will lose my father, brother, and everything I own if I don’t act quickly. I don’t want to let go of my one and only source of joy. He ruined me. I need assistance and I don’t understand what to do.

Psychologist’s Response

It sounds like you’ve had a challenging time with your father, but you have also learned to see points clearly and stop tolerating them. It appears that leaving his home was the first step in comprehending both his strategies and your own reactions to them.

I get the impression from your outline that two points are taking place:

  1. Your papa is who he is, and it’s unlikely that much of that may alter.
  2. You may have more control over the relationship depending on how you choose to listen to your parents.

People occasionally experience a sense of helplessness and entrapment in the design of how they react to others, particularly their parents. Consider how much emotional and physical distance you might be able to put up from your parents in these situations. I saw a lot of” have tos” in your description, but I’m not sure what will happen if you don’t agree. If someone is emotionally and physically aggressive, there isn’t a good way to stay in contact with them until the mistreatment stops. It sounds like there are risks of mistreatment when and if you engage with him.

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I’m curious as to what keeps you in touch with your dad— is it out of obligation, a fictitious desire for his approval, or something else? I’m wondering if there is a way to established stronger boundaries with him without” ending it”; the fear of you cutting him off may also be driving some of this behaviour. If he is willing to acknowledge and stop the abuse.

The first thing I would advise anyone going through in this circumstance to do is sit down and create a plan for communicating with your parents that will work and feel secure for you. How frequently would you want to check in with him on the telephone, putting away his requirements and needs? How frequently would you like to discover him? After the way he’s treated you, do you want to get in touch with him at most?

It might be beneficial for the two of you to lay down with a neutral third party( such as an authorized counselor or licensed counselor) to find ways to communicate these limitations with him so that he can hear them once you have figured out what your requirements are in the relationship and have made up your mind whether you want to date him at all. Starting with” Dad, I love you and want you to be a part of our life, but I have my own home that I sometimes have to put first” can be helpful. Can you arrange for us to meet somewhere in the center? Another strategy might be to start ignoring his names and offers and responding to or accepting them just when you have the time and energy to do so( as well as for him ). Your own time and strength are yours to use however you see fit; you have the right to do so. You have the option to gently hang up the phone or left if he yells and screams. It’s crucial that you intentionally try to get in touch with him when using this strategy, particularly if you’re both in a relaxed, balanced mood. When you’re overcome with rage or disappointment, trying to make changes will only create the issues that now exist between you worse.

It can be very difficult to set boundaries with parents, or with others in our lives who pull for us to pay attention to them. Your anger toward your father is valid; it’s finding a way to effectively communicate that anger and set your own boundaries that is difficult. Talking to a licensed mental health provider may be most helpful for you given the pain you’ve experienced. I would also suggest reading Harriet Lerner’s Dance of Anger as another resource in figuring out how to express your feelings clearly while navigating this difficult relationship.

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One or more scientific psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals peer review all of the medical content on this website. Dr. Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor, past reviewed or updated the book that was first published by Drs. Elizabeth Chamberlain, PhD.

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