Dear Therapist: My dad and I cannot get along

By Dr Prateeksha Shetty

Published: Thu 13 May 2021, 5:07 PM

Last updated: Thu 1 Jul 2021, 3:44 PM

I have always struggled with my dad. I feel like we can never really have a healthy father-daughter relationship. I don’t really know what can I do to get rid of this emotional abuse?” — Salma A

Dear Salma, I am sorry that your relationship with your father is not as affectionate as it should be. It is always difficult for a child, regardless of their age, to accept the fact that they come from dysfunctional family dynamics. I am not aware of the specifics of your relationship with your father, but I must remind you that it takes two people to make a relationship work. This means that both sides/parties involved must be willing to invest or nurture it for it to grow or be healthy. Therefore, your relationship can only change provided your father is willing to listen and be open to change. To achieve this, you can initiate a conversation with him to highlight the nature of the relationship and a willingness on your end too to rectify it.

In the meantime, you can reflect on how the relationship has affected your sense of self and perhaps even contaminated other relationships — within and outside your family. Our relationships with parents have long-standing impact on future relationships and I suggest that you explore this regardless of the outcome of your dialogue with your father. You can also try redefining the relationship by setting boundaries, detaching yourself and understanding the role that you play in each other’s lives. You must, however, acknowledge the fact that sometimes, despite our best efforts, we don’t get the outcomes we want, in which case you will have to work towards acceptance and building a better life for yourself.

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