Dear Lauren,

My dad is constantly antagonizing me. At first it wasn't that bad, but throughout this year it has become increasingly worse to the point where I don't enjoy coming home anymore. My dad will laugh at me for anything I ask. Like for instance: he went up into the attic, which happens to be in my room. I asked him to please clean up the mess he left, which included wood and fiberglass on the floor. He laughed at me, which I have gotten used to by now. Instead, he said that he will add it to my list of chores to do. Things happen like this multiple times a day. He tells me to lighten up, that he's joking, but none of it is funny and anyone would agree to that. Most of the time it ends up with him laughing at me.

I have tried everything, including asking him nicely to stop and mentioning that I don't like it many times, suggesting therapy as this has been happening for over a year now and is only getting worse. (When I suggested that, he only laughed at me and told me that I could go. He won't come. I said it was needed as our relationship is only growing worse and we need therapy. He just kept “joking” about it.) I am at a loss and he is making my home life miserable. My mom doesn't want to get involved, and neither does my sibling. I have been trusting God for help but I believe maybe it's time for some outside advice since he is not a willing participant for therapy. Can you help?

Lauren Roth

Lauren Roth's Answer

I can help.

It seems to me that your father has a problem, and that this is not your fault. It seems to me that you’ve tried valiantly to initiate a relationship with him, but that he’s rebuffed your efforts. This is my suggestion: since your father won’t go with you to therapy, just you go.

Going to therapy can accomplish a lot of things for you.

  1. It should, if done properly, make you realize, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you deserve to be loved. Everyone deserves to be loved. It is our birthright as people to feel beloved, wanted, and respected.

  2. Your therapist should show you, by modeling a healthy relationship with you, that he/she loves and respects you. The therapeutic bond is supposed to mimic a parental bond, so you as the patient can be “reparented,” properly this time, with love, respect, and a feeling of being wanted and important.

  3. The therapist should explore with you all the ways you feel demeaned by your father, and help you see that it is your father who is misbehaving, so you don’t internalize those feelings of inferiority. This involves you telling the therapist about your painful experiences at home. Talking about those painful experiences with a trained professional also ensures that you “get the hurt out,” so that it doesn’t stay inside you and fester and cause emotional pain now or in the future.

  4. The therapist will help you see your father’s foibles clearly so that you don’t unwittingly adopt them into your own relationships.

These are just a few of the benefits which will accrue if you put yourself into therapy.

I’m not even certain that going with your father would be more beneficial. It might be better to go without him.

I am so incredibly sorry you’ve been treated badly. Unfortunately, you are not alone. We receive so many letters like yours here at Aish.com. Perhaps you will become a therapist and help others who have had experiences similar to yours.

I also like your approach of turning to God for help, as well. Prayer can be a powerful aid when you’re in a situation which feels out of your control. Anything you’re not in control of, God is controlling. I don’t know why God gives us difficult situations, but I know that praying to Him helps us deal with difficulty. Jewish tradition even suggests that sometimes God gives us difficulties in order to elicit our prayers. Certainly praying will help you feel more calm, more centered, and it will remind you that God, the Ultimate Father, loves you.

I’m also sorry your mother and sibling refuse to get involved. That must hurt. That must feel like you’ve been abandoned. It would be important for you to find a good therapist and talk about that hurt, as well. Get all the hurt out so it doesn’t stay inside you and fester.

I’ll bet you’ll stand up for oppressed people because you know how it feels to not have someone stand up for you.

You deserve therapy. You deserve to feel loved and wanted and respected. I want you to say that over and over again to yourself. And find a good therapist who will lovingly drill that into your brain and psyche. You deserve therapy. You deserve to feel loved and wanted and respected. It is your birthright as a human being.

You can call RELIEF, a Jewish mental health referral agency. Tell them your needs and where you live, and they will suggest a therapist in your area. Their service is free of charge.

Save yourself.

You deserve therapy. You deserve to feel loved and wanted and respected.