My Dad Doesn’t Respect Me

Question: Dear Luise: My dad decided to open my mail and then text message me the said amount that I got in the check contained in the latter. The text message alone was enough to anger since it showed such blatant disregard to me right to privacy. When I confronted him about it politely, he made up a number of excuses, which were irrelevant (such as not doing the dishes). Finally, I got angry and decided to open his mail to prove my point. Instead of getting the message, he decided to kick me out. While I apologized for this, he still insists that it was still acceptable to open my mail despite proving that he wouldn’t like it when it happened to him. Since then, I ended up in Israel (another story unto itself), but still have not been in contact with my dad since I don’t feel any reason to continue a relationship with him since he still refuses to apologize. I have told him not to email me unless it is to apologize, and yet he still sends harassing emails. Is there any way for him to actually apologize or should I simply write him out of my life since it seems obvious that he’ll never respect despite whatever accomplishments I have? E.

Answer: Dear E.: Good for you for thinking twice about this. I personally wouldn’t write him off because he opened a letter and won’t apologize.  He’s a flawed human. His arrogance in opening your mail may have something to do with being the head of the household and thinking he can do no wrong…something all too common in fathers. When you reciprocated in kind there was probably no way he could accept that…it suggested you were an equal.

Breaking with your dad is going to bring you grief. He matters to you, flawed or not, or you wouldn’t be writing to me. Why not get that you can’t change him and choose at this fork in the road to change yourself. You deserve better…you know that and I know that. What I want to ask you beyond our both knowing you are right, is…can you be the mature person in this conflict and let it go, knowing your dad has some serious limitations and some obvious insecurities? That’s what I mean by “changing yourself.”

You’re just getting started in life. One of the most remarkable accomplishments available to you as you step into adulthood is to develop tolerance and to learn the difference between tolerance and condoning. It may help you from following in your father’s footsteps. You are flawed, too, we all are…but we can do something about the quality of our own character. If you choose to step up to the plate, where your father is concerned, that will be about you, not him. You will be taking the role model position that he vacated. Blessings, Luise

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