It is so sad. It seems that most of us continue well on into adult life wanting our parents to approve of us and love us the way that we want to be loved. It's not going to happen. They are the way they are and we are the way we are. We can only change ourselves. Once we realize that we don't need their approval we can learn to stop being affected by their criticism. It's a maturation process for us.
I often hear that no one can upset us without our permission and over many years I finally realize that for the most part that is true. When our parents criticize us we are hurt because we do want their approval. And all too often we equate love with approval. If they don't approve of us they don't love us.
Parents often teach their children to feel this way by criticizing and punishing children instead of teaching and disciplining them. When parents are angry with children, children don't feel love. They feel judgment. As children we must depend on our parents. We can't leave the house or not listen to them.
Once we're independent adults we don't have to live with them or even listen to them but no one has taught us how to stop that emotional cycle. We don't learn how to set and enforce our boundaries. And once we do learn our parents often don't respect our boundaries and we are afraid to enforce them because we want them to love us. It seems we spend our whole lives trying to be loved by our parents.
I've found that once I learned to love myself as much as I wanted to be loved by my parents I wasn't so upset by their opinions. Unfortunately this was close to the end of their lives.
I did learn many diplomatic ways to get out of listening to them which did decrease my stress level. I learned that when I get an inkling that I'm starting to get upset that I find a way to end the conversation. In my family it works to say, "I don't want to talk about it." I then start a new unrelated conversation. If that doesn't work, I leave or hang up the phone. If they are visiting from out of town, I discover an errand I must run or I go for a walk.
Yes, we still had some fights. Parents and children know how to push each others buttons. The next step is then to discover what my buttons are so that I can say to myself, "whoops, that's a button and work on ignoring what they said.
For me the most important step, after continuously affirming for myself that I am a good person and am loved, is to keep out of conversations that lead to advice. I don't ask what "they" think (and now is anyone who is critical of me and my decisions). If I need to give them information I word the information as a clear statement. If they ignore my stance, I tell them I'm not asking for their device and if they continue I leave or hang up.
This is not so easy to do. We've been conditioned that listening to and often also to agree with our parents is the criteria for showing respect. Yes, children do have to listen to but I don't ask them to agree with me. I require that they do what I've told them to do. I will listen to them tell me their reasons for disagreeing and I will sometimes change my mind. I haven't always been able to do this. I have to be confident enough in what I believe to allow a discussion and again be confident to allow for my change of mind. With children, the bottom line is that Mom and Dad, teachers, the police, or any adult responsible for them is the final authority.
All too often parents don't accept that their child(ren) are now adults and responsible for themselves. I went thru several years feeling that I was still responsible for teaching my adult daughter things that I obviously hadn't been able to teach her while she was a child. She and I get along much better now that I can allow her to make her own mistakes and suffer the consequences for them. I, truly, am no longer responsible.
I suspect that your father does want the best for you and that, in my way of thinking is love. It's just not the kind of love I wanted from my father. I also believe that love is about trust. Many parents mess up their relationship with their children because they do lack trust. Trust requires the ability to accept that the child/adult child will make mistakes and allow them to suffer the consequences of those mistakes. Wow! That's a very difficult way to feel. Because we do want the best for them and we want their lives to be better than our own was.
I suggest that the overbearing parent who argues with us over our decisions is actually a frightened person who lacks confidence in themselves as parents and in their ability to have done a good enough job with us while we were growing up.
My father was confined to bed during the last few years of his life. During that time I came to realize that he was a frightened man who had done the best that he could and who now had no power left. He stopped giving me advice, most likely because he didn't have the strength to be involved. I then realized that he loved me the best that he could. His eyes lit up when I came to visit. He asked me about my life and he listened far more than he had when he was healthy. I then remembered times when he did love me in the way I needed to be loved. He did show concern when I was in pain and did do the best for me that he was able to do. He was handicapped by his parent's fear in raising him and his own fear of life. I wish that I could've reached that understanding when I was younger. Then I wouldn't have fought so hard with him. I wouldn't have had to prove that I knew what was best for me. Perhaps if I'd been more confident in my own decisions he'd have had more confidence in me too.
One of my brothers wasn't able to reach that place of peace and continued to fight as long as my Dad had fight in him. That brother is still angry at my Dad and has displaced that anger onto our youngest brother. We have to let go of our anger. And we do that by realizing that we are now adults and no longer dependent on our parents. What they think, say, or do does not
need to affect us. We are in control of what we do and how we feel.