28 answers

Nothing Is Ever Good Enough for My Dad

I am 30 years old. I am a wife and a mother to 5 girls. I am a SAHM and I homeschool. My issue is with my father. Each time my husband and I make a major decision, my dad has to put his two cents in. It's usually very rude or hurtful. Nothing I ever do or decide is good enough. He always has a negative attitude or comment about everything I do.

Here are just a few examples.

Even when I was a kid. I would get straight A's and one would be an A- and he'd be upset it was an A-. sheesh

When I decided to buy a home, he said it's a bad idea. He wasn't proud of me, he tried to discourage me.

When I was laid off from my 100k a year job (my job made him mad because he thought I was over paid) a few years ago, I decided to stay home with my kids and not get another job. Our income dropped majorly. He thougth I was crazy or lazy for not wanting to work. He said we'd never afford it, and called me daily with jobs in the paper. Even though I told him I was staying home and we were rebudgeting and downsizing so I could raise the kids. He was angry with me.

Last year we decided to stay home for Christmas Day. We usually drive to his house but we wanted to stay home and not travel with all the kids. We invited him and his wife over instead. He got real angry and aked why we didn't like them enough to drive out there. We just wanted to stay home with our kids. It's a 45 minute drive and we do it every year. He stopped talking to me for 2 months and mailed my kids Christmas presents.

When we made the decision to home school the children, he yelled at me and said "WHAT KIND OF CREDENTIALS DO YOU HAVE?" What makes you think you can do this? ( Please refer back to the straight A's lol). My kids were suffering in public school and desperately needed to be pulled out. Besides, it's my right to do this, and a parent need not have credentials to teach their own children.

Okay, sorry, I'm getting to a closing point. He does this with all of my sisters too. He and his wife are the king and queen of negative advice and comments. But, they think they are being helpful by showing us another side. We have already weighed the options and this is our decision. Their comments always hurt and make me angry.

I am not a bad or irresponsible parent. My children are respectful, well behaved and well taken care of. They are not brats and they are very smart.

After we have stuck to our decision a while and it usually turns out great, he will say how proud he is. I think he is totally forgetting how awful he was in the first place. Then he will brag to his friends and family about what a great mother I am. I don't get it. I'm an adult and I wish he would trust that my hsuband and me know what we are doing.

Just so frustrated. Thanks for reading my long story.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I wanted to say, thank you so much. I was overwhelmed with wonderful responses. I think the best thing is to limit what I tell my dad. Many of you were correct, I haven't gotten over trying to get his approval. And, yes this drives my husband nuts. I really need to get over it.

Again, thank you.

Featured Answers

I had similar issues with my mother's attitudes for years, until I finally just "got it" that I had to live my life as I saw fit, believe what I thought was true, and behave in ways that made sense to me. Suddenly it was no longer an issue what my mother thought.

From this new vantage point, I simply don't need her approval, pride in me, or even love, though I know that she does love me in her own way. Wow, what a relief. And, interestingly enough, now that I don't fret, she doesn't try to control. She somehow knows I no longer "need" her good opinion.

When she does offer advice, I just cheerfully thank her, consider whether it will serve me or not, and use or discard it. No sweat. If she gets upset with me, that's her problem, and I let her work it out however she has to.

I wish I could tell you how I got to this wonderful place. It was the result of many years of spiritual and emotional work, and I think that will look different for everyone. But I heard a quote lately that sums it up well: Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past.

I wish that for you.

3 moms found this helpful

my mom is like this to a point. I have decided to just not tell her things. It has worked wonders! That way she has nothing to respond to and I don't have to be upset if she does respond. So maybe try to keep the information you give him to a minimal. Good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

Hi K.,

I am familiar with really wanting my father's approval. It took a few years, but I decided that the person I had to live with, when all was said and done, was me. This is not easy. I consciously made efforts to stop any advice offered. "I appreciate your opinion, but this decision is not yours to make."

I took the scary leap to stand up to him and then practiced being ok with my decisions regardless of his comments. Notice I said practiced. This is not easy but in the long run, your father will admire you for your strength.

My father and I now have a good relationship. He does not offer any more advice because he realized that my husband and I were going to make our own decisions and his opinions were not important. Also, I stopped giving him information about upcoming decisions and just told him about outcomes. The good outcomes make it easier for him to only have good things to say.

Again, as a daughter, this is not easy. It takes time and practice and a lot of days of anguish, but in the long run you will be happier for standing by your man and letting your dad out of that role.

D.

4 moms found this helpful

You've already gotten a lot of great responses! I'm guessing you may have already tried to tell him how his comments make you feel, and he probably got mad over it and you haven't tried again since. Been there. We finally started limiting time spent with toxic relatives. And we definitely started keeping family decisions and info to ourselves. If my mom (or my FIL) asks specific questions, we give vague answers or "Oh, not sure yet..." The first dozen times we did it, our relatives got mad for our indecision and criticized our perceived flightiness, but then they got tired of that because we just kept giving them the same answer over and over. It's sad that we have to play these games, but toxic relatives never change, and we both got tired of the constant attacks on our relationship, our jobs, our decision to wait to have kids, our timing when we did, our parenting skills (or apparent lack of)...So, we told (not ask, told) my parents that we were going to start doing every other Christmas at their house and we'd be SO happy if they came to our house on "our" year, and we started screening out calls and talking to my FIL only once a month. My mom stopped arguing when we simply didn't show up for dinner one Christmas (and had a delightful Christmas at home), and my FIL stopped wasting our phone time together on complaints and criticism because he realized that when he did, we suddenly had someone at the door and had to hang up. You sound like an awesome person and awesome mother, and you don't deserve this. At the same time, you don't want to shut your father out completely. So, take the reins and get control. You can do it! I'll be rooting for you!

4 moms found this helpful

I had similar issues with my mother's attitudes for years, until I finally just "got it" that I had to live my life as I saw fit, believe what I thought was true, and behave in ways that made sense to me. Suddenly it was no longer an issue what my mother thought.

From this new vantage point, I simply don't need her approval, pride in me, or even love, though I know that she does love me in her own way. Wow, what a relief. And, interestingly enough, now that I don't fret, she doesn't try to control. She somehow knows I no longer "need" her good opinion.

When she does offer advice, I just cheerfully thank her, consider whether it will serve me or not, and use or discard it. No sweat. If she gets upset with me, that's her problem, and I let her work it out however she has to.

I wish I could tell you how I got to this wonderful place. It was the result of many years of spiritual and emotional work, and I think that will look different for everyone. But I heard a quote lately that sums it up well: Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past.

I wish that for you.

3 moms found this helpful

Wow - I wish I'd had this kind of support forum when I was in my 20's - I never knew there were so many women out there dealing with the same thing, especially as my father was dying from cancer.

So many of the women here have said the same thing I would say: basically, "Let go." But goodness knows that is easier said than done! Have you ever tried therapy? Not because there's anything "wrong" with you, not because you're lacking in any way, but just "for" you, a gift to yourself. I'm guessing that with all you do, taking care of yourself might come last on the list. ;-)

Congrats on raising and homeschooling so many wonderful children. You must be very talented and loving. Keep surrounding yourself with people who recognize that and who support you. Best of luck to you.

P.S. Like some of the other women here, it's taken me well into my adult-hood to work on these sorts of family issues, so please don't trick yourself into thinking it's something you "should be handling 'easily'. "

3 moms found this helpful

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.

2 moms found this helpful

You have gotten a lot of great responses here, so really this is just my two cents; You sound like an intelligent, thoughtful, and careful woman who has made some tough choices and made the best of some difficult situations. Love and approval comes from within, love yourself, approve of yourself, as it is unlikely that you will ever get the kind of respect and aprroval you would like from your father. I am sorry, I know how much you, and all of us, want that unconditional love from our parents, but it is probably never going to happen. Take care of yourself and your beautiful family, you are doing a great job. I hope you find the emotional support you are looking for from someone else.

2 moms found this helpful

Don't let him put you down, you know what's good for your family not him. He raised you and your sister and I assume your sisters are doing well too. You don't need his advice or approval of anything. Take it with a grain of salt as some say and just keep going about your day. If you let it get to you, your only letting him win the battle to make you upset. Do what's best for you and your family and if he gets made the tough cookies, tell him he can cry you a river, build a bridge and get over it. Hope this advice helped. :) good luck to you and your family.

2 moms found this helpful

It is very challenging dealing with negativism in your life. I am amazed at how positive and successful you have been despite his best efforts. You and your husband should be proud of your accomplishments! As for how to deal with it, as it probably won't do any good at this stage to 'change' him is to change your response. We can only control ourselves anyway. One tool to use is to reframe in your mind how you'll receive his words. For example, assign him, in your mind, the job of identifying the cons of a decision. Then you can determine if you've evaluated it and put in some risk mitigating strategies. You are already doing this, of course, but it will help you to actively think this way in regards to his words. Another possible reframe is to see if you can predict with your husband in advance, in a very light and humorous way, how your father might respond. Imagine, you and your husband have role played how your father will respond to X, maybe put a friendly wager on who will be the closest to his answer. And when your dad provides his advice, as you know he will, you either start giggling with glee or do a Woop, Woop and High Five with your partner and say 'Cool! Honey, you owe me a pedicure'. OK, I know it sounds like I am making light of something serious, but consider how you'd like to be able to respond to your Father's input. Remember, advice is cheap and you don't have to use it, no matter who it comes from. Why internalize it? Own your decisions and take pride in them, it sounds like you have been doing an excellent job with living a good life.

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

1 / 3
Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.