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DancingMind's avatar

I need help with family issues?

Asked by DancingMind (5814 points ) June 19th, 2011

My father, for all his brain power, tends to be fairly oblivious to how he treats others. If he feels he’s correct in an issue, there is nothing anyone can do to show him otherwise, and he will get as ugly as he has to, as if it’s his duty to see this cause through at all cost.
His latest ‘theme’ (he goes through them) is that my sister is lazy and worthless and needs to be whipped in shape. I’m scared that this is partly my fault, because I’ve been all over the place in behavior, openly hated him, now quietly tolerate him, have almost flunked out of school, etc. I should also mention his greatest fear is me and my sister will turn out “lazy failures” as he thinks his sisters became.
He doesn’t see it this way. I know that. He sees it as him being a good father, and getting on her for attitude.

My sister is very quiet, and takes it all in until she can’t anymore. Honestly, her “attitude” is normal 16-year-old not-unquestioningly-obeying-parents. She will help, but if she’s being demanded, she’ll make it difficult. The only time she gets lippy is when he starts in on her. But he sees the lip then, and it’s ‘hah! it’s there!’
(She’s also just started summer vacation, after a very emotionally and academically draining year, and any decompressing she does, he sees as selfishness, any work she does helping my mom around the house, he sees as ‘damn right that’s what you do.’)
(Also, he’s always sort of been the cause of insecurity she’s had to work through; like, when she was younger, he’d tell her she was fat; repeatedly; now she tries to stay as far detached from our parents as possible, because they can be a little stifling. She’s at a place where she’s beginning to blossom, I don’t want to see that crushed.)

She came into my room to get away from him, and at the door frame he rounded in on her. He doesn’t care who’s there when he’s in his righteousness-mood.

I started shaking, no way anyone treats my sister like that. I usually don’t speak up, but there were words so they came. Something to the effect of You’re being a jerk… You’re alienating her… No, you shut up, she’s fine… She is not leaving my room as long as you’re standing there in the doorway… He ignored me and continued to pound at her.
I’ve become sort of untouchable since my failed stint in therapy, so nothing I do ever gets called out. I could cuss him off, he’d blame it on somebody else.

Unsurprisingly, my sister quickly left the room. He continued, yelling at me, but really just so he could be loud enough for her to hear, about how he’s not wrong, no one has any idea how hard he works (me: I think they do, but I think everyone works very hard) and he works his ass off trying to make a better life for everyone in this family when has he gotten to take a vacation, he’s done nothing wrong, she’s done everything wrong.
Slam goes my door as he yanks it closed and leaves.

Now he’s yelling with my mom. Last thing I heard (about my sister) is he’s going to crack down on her, going to take nothing coming out of her mouth. And my mom trying to get him to shut up… but he won’t. He’s upset.

Now it’s that deadly quiet after a fight.

I need help. I’ve made it worse.

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12 Answers

athenasgriffin's avatar

Its not your fault. Sometimes people just can’t control themselves. It is not only your job to keep the peace. Everyone in a household needs to work together to find solutions to issues like this. Perhaps you and your sister should talk together and have some sort of agreement about trying to not anger your father all of the time. Maybe your mother can keep him from getting so angry.

But you really have to remember that his actions do not fall upon your shoulders alone.

DancingMind's avatar

Thanks, I know. It’s just… she’s my sister…
My mom’s with my sister now, trying to help. My sister, crying. Mom asking questions, sister “you were there…” and “I heard everything.”

BarnacleBill's avatar

Is family counseling a possibility? Perhaps your father would go if he thinks it will convince your sister to be less lazy? He really needs someone outside the family to tell him he’s off base.

Instead of arguing with him, because that doesn’t seem to be working, you might ask him if he enjoys being so angry with you all the time, and if he would the arguing to stop. Agree to do one thing each day that he asks you to do. And if you can figure out triggers, like dirty dishes in the kitchen when you’ve been home all day, take care of those things without being asked.

Things like this at home are usually about other things—problems with your parent’s marriage, problems at work, things where your father feels he has no control over his life. Sometimes kids catch the brunt of that because parents feel they should be able to control them.

athenasgriffin's avatar

@DancingMind It is really sweet of you to help her. That age is so difficult, which is only compounded by a difficult father.

YARNLADY's avatar

Any confrontation is difficult, and the outcome is usually not good. Try to avoid them at all costs. My father was very hard on my sister as well. He favored me, and I managed to diffuse most issues by asking him “Can we talk, privately?”. He often agreed, and I just said “You’re scaring her, she’s very sensitive.” He actually tried to change.

May I suggest you talk to a counselor at school or church or at least a relative, and ask for guidance.

DancingMind's avatar

@BarnacleBill—thank you. About the triggers. And we’ve actually talked about family therapy off and on for years… maybe we can’t avoid it any longer.
@YARNLADY—thank you too. He would probably be less defensive if it wasn’t in front of anyone.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Even if just you, your sister and your mother go, it will be worthwhile. Your dad’s way doesn’t seem to be working for any of you, so perhaps he could eventually be persuaded to go as well.

bkcunningham's avatar

It sounds like your father is a very controlling person. Most controlling people are very insecure. It breaks my heart to think that you are somewhere out in the world typing trying to get help for a situation that none of us really have any control over. There are ways to deal with controlling people without becoming an enabler. That is what I fear for your family members.

You really should talk to your mother and get her involved in a solution. She is the parent; not you. It shouldn’t be your role to protect your sister from your dad’s verbal wrath. I understand why you did what you did. I admire you for doing that, but you still need to be able to depend on your mother to help in these situations.

I noticed you said something about your failed attempt at therapy. That statement is troubling to me for some reason.

I found this that you might read if you have time. I hope it helps.

http://www.wikihow.com/Cope-With-a-Controlling-Parent

Pandora's avatar

I think your sister needs to sit down with him one day and actually have a heart to heart with him. Not to tell him he is wrong but rather to tell him the good and the not so good things he does. As a parent and a child, I can see this from both sides. She needs to learn to stand up for herself. And your mom needs to chime in without critizing. Some dads are just not very good at dealing with a daughters because they only see things from a male perspective without wondering how a young lady may feel or even thinking that all future relationships may strongly be impacted by his relationship with her.

vickorano's avatar

My dad used to be just like this when he was drinking. He was an avid alcoholic and would become very violent. He still has that super-ego, though, and really knows how to make you feel stupid. I honestly could not stand up to him during his drunken years and my mother never had the will to, either.

If I could, I’d go back in time and call the police. Then I would contact someone about counseling and, possibly, would have moved out for a while.

I don’t know really how your father is, but it sounds like you will need some real tactile methods in order to get him to see your point of view and you will need help from all of your family. The more you have in your favor, the more pressure there will be for him to open up—but try to avoid alienating /him/ because that will get you no-where.

Indeed, talk to your mother and sister about it. Look at it from /all/ angles, not just yours. Figure out how to make him see that he is wrong. It probably won’t happen on the first try.

I’m sorry you have to deal with this. :/

Hibernate's avatar

Actually there’s nothing you can do since all approaches will be good only for a little while and changing them to often won’t be good for you.
He has the issues so he needs to deal with them. If he doesn’t realize them then someone will have to point them out [ I don’t suggest doing so because he’ll get mad ].

Just endure and bare with him as long as you can for a few more years then I’m sure you guys will leave the house.

augustlan's avatar

I’m so sorry you guys are going through this. He may be completely unwilling to change, or even to go to counseling. If that’s the case, please remind yourself and your sister that you’ll be away from there soon. Remind yourselves often, and try to let whatever he says roll off your backs. As long as he’s not physically abusive, that is. If he is, that’s a whole ‘nother situation, and you need outside help asap. If you’re in danger, please call the police or notify a trusted adult. {hugs}

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