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My dad has always put me down and I'm afraid the damage is permanent

Tagged as: Family, Troubled relationships<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (11 March 2018) 3 Answers - (Newest, 12 March 2018)
A female United States age 26-29, *rueLoveWaits2016 writes:

My self esteem has come a long way from the criticism I experienced from my dad. Currently I have a good job and a happy relationship. Some days though I feel down. My dad always had something negative to say, from the way I sung in my church to criticizing when I helped cut the cat's nails. Everything was a put down or criticism. I was told better for my family to do it then for my future spouse to tell me that. Instead of improving my life, all that criticism did a lot of damage. I'm really afraid that this will always be a permanent part of my life. I'm also resentful that my sibling was raised differently. My dad did come down on them, but also built up their self esteem, whereas me he would tear me down, then leave as I picked up the broken pieces. I'm not a victim, I just wanna know how I can feel better, I want to be confident, not using this as an excuse or crutch. Thoughts?

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A female reader, Andie's Thoughts United Kingdom + , writes (12 March 2018):

Andie's Thoughts agony auntTo keep it simple: it's only permanent if you don't get therapy to work through it.

Low days are normal, if they are infrequent, but you should see a therapist to build yourself up. Your dad handled things poorly, but many parents do.

You're doing well in life, so get the extra help to move on from how he treated you.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (12 March 2018):

You didn't mention where you rank among your siblings. Oldest, youngest, or in the middle?

If you are the one who is the over-achiever, the one with the best grades, or the athlete. He has high hopes; and he's living vicariously through your accomplishments. In his twisted-way, he probably thinks his harsh criticism is coaching; but it's cutting-away at your self-esteem. That's not coaching, nor parenting. It's psychological-abuse! What hurts my heart through reading your post, you never once said you love him. You didn't need to, I know you do.

If you are very shy and too timid. He sees this as weakness and thinks you'll be too vulnerable to world. Over-protectiveness can also be his motive. If you are lazy, show no ambition, or just coast along through life. That makes a parent go into over-drive. We also have to give him some benefit of the doubt. We get the one-sided version. Sometimes it's not entirely an accurate story. He doesn't get to defend himself. We trust you entirely on your word.

I don't really accept the abuse-excuse; because we all know right from wrong. If you choose to be a parent, and you know firsthand how you felt at the mercy of an overly-strict or mean parent; there is always more than one path to take from that point.

You can be the same thing; or you could vow to yourself to treat your own children differently. Our society allows people too much room for making excuses as to why they're just plain mean and nasty! As if you can't be a different person from who your bad parents were. We are born with separate brains and souls. We can make choices.

There is always professional-help when the child-hood trauma is more than you can handle alone. So these mean-ass people don't have to suffer or pass-on their tradition of bad-parenting, just because their parents sucked.

If you're messed-up and abused as a kid, get help before you reproduce. Just to create your own home-grown victims!

I know dozens of people who have come out of family-situations that would make what you described look like a cake-walk. They are happy, strong, and good people. They have lovely families of their own; and they decided their past wasn't going to overtake their future. I know people who were victims of child-molestation, adults who were child-refugees of war-zones, kids of battered-women, and other situations; who have decided they were going to survive and flourish. I am proud to be in their lives.

One day plan an outing with your father. On the beach or someplace quiet and private. Tell him you needed some time together to talk about things. Make a list for yourself of the topics you'd like to cover; and some incidents that occurred in the recent past. Don't waste time going back to when you were six! Some things you just have to grow-up and get-over.

Tell that brute how he has made you feel all these years. Bare your soul to your dad. Let him know what life has been like with him. Don't expect this to change your father. It's not about him, it's about YOU! Oh, he'll try and walkaway or pitch a tizzy-fit; but you stand your ground, young lady! He won't appreciate being ambushed. It's really a cleansing and an intervention to save your sanity!

Time you stop being pissed-on, and push-back! You tell that old man to stay right where he is, or this may be the last time he has the chance to talk with you. He will see less and less of you. Ask him why? Push the truth deep into his conscience and let him stew on it. I recommend you don't let him get a word in edge-wise or pull-rank. He has bullied you, and the cure for bullies is facing-up to them!

I suggest that you please get counseling. Your dad may need some too! You can tell him that when you have that cleansing discussion with him.

It will release a lot of anguish and pent-up resentment; so you can get-on with your life. Stop being so intimidated and weak in his presence. It is why he has been so persistently mean to you. He sees something of himself he always hated, in you. But you are you, and he has no right to treat you as he has. Torturing the part of himself he sees in you, and was always frustrated about. Maybe it's the jealousy he has for you; because you make him feel inferior. Either-case; you have to make a stand.

I just don't understand why these awful people decide to breed and pass on their cruelties and dysfunction to yet another generation?

Fortunately, you are an adult now and you can confront your father about his criticism and curt behavior. As a kid, you didn't have much of a choice. Now sweetheart, you do!

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (12 March 2018):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntIf only parents realized what harm they can do their children. Having said that, you have succeeded in moving on in the sense that you have a good job and a happy relationship. Hold onto those positives in your life.

Your dad's attitude towards you says more about him and his issues than about what you did or failed to do. It may have had something to do with where he was mentally when you were a child, or his relationship with your mother, or even flashbacks to when HE was a similar age to you. Maybe his expectations of you were just unrealistic. There are numerous possible explanations as to why he treated you the way he did. If you can keep that to the forefront of your mind, could you bring yourself to forgive him and accept that he did the best he could at the time? Yes, it may have been woefully pitiful, even cruel, but it was all he was capable of. (I speak from experience, having been raised by a mother who was constantly critical and emotionally abusive. It was only when I discovered, years later from her sister, what an abusive childhood my mother had endured at the hands of HER mother, that I realized she was taking out all the damage her mother had done to her on me. I then felt able to let go of the abuse and forgive her, because I understood why it had happened as it did.)

You are now an adult. Hopefully your relationship with your father is now healthier than it used to be when you were a child. If not, keep contact with him to a minimum and learn to either stand up to him or walk away when he behaves badly. As an adult, you have control over your life, which you obviously didn't have as a child. You no longer need to put up with his criticism.

Believe in yourself. It was never about you. You survived it and came out the other end. Take strength from your experience and, when/if you have children, you will know how NOT to treat them.


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