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My father always put me down. Do I have to pretend to like him? | Annalisa Barbieri

Your dad’s issues are not your responsibility, says Annalisa Barbieri. His constant eroding of your self-esteem is entirely a reflection of himSince c

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Your dad’s issues are not your responsibility, says Annalisa Barbieri. His constant eroding of your self-esteem is entirely a reflection of him

Since childhood, I have had a fraught relationship with my father who always had to be right. We were not supposed to challenge or disagree with him, but to admire his rise from poverty. Every conversation was an opportunity for him to “win” the discussion, and I had to provide him with validation.

I can deal with this: no one is perfect, and I feel this is textbook behaviour for many of his age, gender and background. These days, I have little in common with him; I avoid his company, and do not get into discussions. But there was one behaviour that I can’t excuse or explain. During my teenage years, pretty much any time I opened my mouth, I was put down. He used a range of phrases, depending on the circumstances, but the effect (whatever the intent) was to convey the message that what I was saying was dumb, wrong or trivial. If I fought against this, there was another put-down. I hated interacting with him and learned to mostly stay quiet.

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