Controlling Father. Requesting Urgent Help.
#1
Hi,


A Background

I’m a 22-year-old male from a small city in India. I am not sure if this is the right place to ask for help about this issue but I tried Googling for information before I came here and all the results I received were for doctors who have obviously self-inflated their page rankings on Google and Just Dial and promise to work psychological wonders on patients using questionable-sounding techniques.

I am a liberal atheist and freethinker but my parents are not. They are both staunchly religious, which is perfectly fine by me, and I have no complaints about my mother. She is the most amazing mother one could ask for. And, for that matter, my father is great too. He allowed me to study as I wanted and choose a line of work on my own and he always spoilt me by giving me whatever material things I asked for.

He loves me very much and his one greatest desire is that I stay with him his whole life. So far, I have strived to fulfill his wish, rejecting some excellent career options because they would require me to leave our small city and settling for running a new business that my father has helped set up for me. I am not particularly happy about this, and I hope I am able to run it successfully, but it’s a sacrifice I have decided to make.

But this has become a one-way street. My father expects to control every single aspect of my, and everyone else in my family’s, life. He instructs us on how to eat, how to sit, when to go to bed and when to wake up, whom to talk to, what to wear, which political party to support (BJP + RSS), which religion to practice (Hinduism), how to practice it, whom to hate (everyone who isn’t exactly like you), and so on and so forth.

Once, when he was angry with me because I refused to wake up at the time he wanted me to, I told him I was 22 now and asked him how long was I supposed to live my life according to his dictates. He told me with an absolute sense of righteousness that “even if you are 60 and I am 85, you should dance to my tune.”

I have sacrificed a lot to appease my father ever since I began thinking for myself, and I know he has sacrificed far more in raising me up, but this is a life I cannot lead. I know one of my older, married cousins (son of my tauji, the eldest of my father’s four elder brothers) whose father has a very similar nature and he does live a life like that, but I guess I am just not as good as he is. I cannot live up to his impossible ideals and I will not try to be and behave and talk and act just like him in every aspect of life.

My father has some great qualities—he’s highly intelligent, a self-made man, very energetic even at his advanced age, very loving when he’s not angry, resourceful and able to provide for us—but he has his shortcomings too. He gets very angry very fast, holds grudges his entire life for the smallest of things, quarrels with people over the tiniest of mistakes (often his own), does not own up to or even realise his mistakes, wants to control everyone around him (including perfect strangers) and force them to do exactly what he thinks they should be doing, hates science and technological progress (even though he enjoys all its fruits), hates people from other religions and castes and regions, thinks women are inferior to men and treats them and talks about them accordingly, thinks he is perfect and boasts about himself incessantly.

Now, I am by no means perfect and I share some of his worst weaknesses, while adding a few of my own to the mix. On a lot of occasions, his anger at me is partly, if not wholly, justified. But I resist when he tries to violate my fundamental human rights and that makes him angry, which I do not think is justified at all.


What Brought Me Here

The latest incident, the one that brought me here, is this:

Recently, I ordered a wallet online and had it delivered to my house. Over a week later, I found out that the wallet had arrived a few days ago and that my mother had had my brother open the package. I went to my parents’ bedroom, where they were both just sitting around, and politely requested my mother not to open my packages in future.

My father said, “Why? She can open your packages.” I said, “But it could be something private.” He responded, “You are not allowed to have anything private.” I asked calmly, “What is this now? Can’t anyone have a personal life in their own home? What if someone sends something to me that they do not want anyone else to see? What if I buy something I want to keep to myself?”

You should know when I say this that, although an atheist in secret, I have never let my parents know that. In fact, I have sacrificed hundreds of things in my life for the sake of my parents. I have never even properly talked to girls, let alone try to befriend one, never gone to places where they served alcoholic beverages, never experimented with any addictive substances, never stayed out of the house later than 8:00 PM (yes, 8:00 PM!), never watched pornography online…the list is endless. I even sit in the morning prayers almost everyday and am actually very good at singing bhajans. I never ever lie, no matter what the consequences are, and my father (even more than my mother) trusts me absolutely.

So he knows that when I am asking for privacy, it’s not to do anything that he would object to; it’s just to establish a respect for the concept of it. My father is very intelligent and insightful and he knew very well what I was saying. And yet, he turned to my mother and said, “If this continues, he will have to leave the house. I cannot stay with a son who disrespects me (for my father, disagreement is equal to disrespect) and replies back so often. He can leave this house and have all the privacy he wants.”

Then he stopped talking to me, as he has several times before. Now, two days later, predictably enough, his mood has been steadily worsening and he’s been trying to contain it and is stewing in his own mind. Occasionally, he lets out short outbursts of anger on my siblings and my mother, never saying it out loud but always with the intention to get my mother to make me apologise to him.


So What Do I Do?

My mother was crying today and asked me to do just that, as has also happened several times before. But this time, I refused. How long am I supposed to do this? How can I live like this? If there is going to be a falling out eventually, how wise is it for me to devote myself to a career doing something I don’t want to do in a city I don’t want to live in, when I could be out there doing what I love? But if I leave, who will take care of my mother when my father gets angry at her and (literally) throws things around the house? And how will I leave anyway, with all my finances being controlled by my father (which is another thing I have tried to wrest from his control on several occasions and failed)?

My mother and I were considering showing him to a psychotherapist but we know there are no good ones out here. Even if there were, how do you tell someone that they have a psychological problem? The strange thing is, when it’s someone else’s problem, even my father sees it as clearly as daylight. One of my bhuajis, my father’s sister, is also psychologically challenged in a very similar way and my father has pleaded with her, along with her sons, to see a psychotherapist. And yet, he fails to draw parallels here.

Sorry for the extremely long-winded post. I never knew of the existence of these forums but I have followed Nirmukta for a while. I hope someone here had the patience to go through it. What do I do now? What do I do?

Please help!



A Summary (tl;dr)

My father, though awesome in many ways, is absolutely determined to control every aspect of my life. This has recently led to a falling out (of sorts) when I rebelled after an invasion of my privacy. On several such occasions in the past, I have apologised to my father and made peace with him upon my mother’s insistence, but I don’t know how long I can continue doing that. What do I do? Thanks in advance for your help.
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#2
nice to meet you most of us have a similar story , i am 20 years old, i too am an atheist in secret , i studied in a stupid school where we had to meditate and pray to sai baba and we had a yoga teacher who used lecture us all that pseudo -science woo , hope getting involved in this community will help you loosen up and give you an outlet too, sorry i have no good advice ,with time this is what we hope to change ,
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#3
You're in quite the pickle. Talking doesn't seem to do any good is it? Is there any family member like an aunt or an uncle, who can help you with the matter? Apologizing to your Dad to control his temper and to your mother so that she may stop crying is quite pointless and only undermines your efforts. If they have the filthy habit of sneaking peeks at your mail (which is a federal offense in the USA Ohmy ), I'd suggest you write a letter addressing your parents and write down the exact same thing posted here (maybe a few changes) and mail it to yourself in your name. That way if your folks intercede and open the letter and read it, they will know exactly what you feel and what the situation is.
And if they blow up about it, tell them that they drove you to addressing the problem in such an indirect manner, because you don't have the freedom nor do they have the patience/tolerance to discuss this like sane adults.
Worst case scenario, you have to wait until you become financially independent before you could completely break away and by that time, you could have missed out on a lot of things most of us take granted for (ie. talking to girls, dating, an occasional drink and watching the 10.30 pm movie at the local theater). But tread carefully mate. This is the only thing I can think of. Use your common sense before proceeding. I wish you all the best and sadly though I would like to help, I cannot interfere any further in your personal affairs.
Peace Flowers
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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#4
Thank you, Lalit and Nick. I have thought of giving him my thoughts in writing but I don’t know how much it will help. I am afraid it might worsen the situation even more. I don’t think he would read it with the same mindset that you did.

As for leaving, I could do that today, because I do have a job writing for an excellent magazine that pays enough for me to be able to make a living for a while until I can start writing more and earning more, but I don’t want to do that. My mother needs someone to shield her from my father’s outbursts.

Is there no way I can get him to see a psychotherapist? Are these people any good anyway?
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#5
(11-Jul-2011, 09:24 PM)anonymousatheist Wrote: Thank you, Lalit and Nick. I have thought of giving him my thoughts in writing but I don’t know how much it will help. I am afraid it might worsen the situation even more. I don’t think he would read it with the same mindset that you did.

As for leaving, I could do that today, because I do have a job writing for an excellent magazine that pays enough for me to be able to make a living for a while until I can start writing more and earning more, but I don’t want to do that. My mother needs someone to shield her from my father’s outbursts.

Is there no way I can get him to see a psychotherapist? Are these people any good anyway?

The first of rule of Alcoholic Anonymous is for the patient to admit he's got a drinking problem. Similarly, your father must understand that some of his actions are having negative ramifications on you and your mother before he can accept therapy. Otherwise it's like shouting at a person hard of hearing and hoping he hears you. And yes, I agree, leaving right now wouldn't help the situation; if things take a turn for the worse financially or something, you will have to turn to your father. And in any event "running away" from home (which is how he'll see it) will only make things worse for you. So talk to him and talk it out bravely. You're his son and he has an obligation to take care of you.
"It's alright, I rarely meet anyone who's able to read it properly. Although personally, I never thought that it to be an odd of a name. Once I give people the pronunciation, they tend to remember my name by easily associating me with it. A unique face, a unique moniker."
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#6
This article has some advice from Dr. Kamath, who may perhaps be best equipped by training and experience to handle these queries (and he maybe available for follow-up via private message (PM) here).
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#7
Dr. Kamath is facing some issue in logging into the forums. This is what he had to say about anonymousatheist's post:

Quote:His father is a normal Indian father. The young man, who wavers between admiring and resenting his father, is a normal Indian young man. Almost all Indian fathers I know of in India and the U.S. are control freaks like this father. Almost all Indians in America that I had the misfortune of working with were little Napoleons. Most young men I know of in India are spineless when it comes to dealing with their control-freak fathers. This kind of relationship is known as "hostile-dependent" relationship. It is pathological in Western culture, but normal in India.

This young man has no hope of "reforming" his father whatsoever. Even if his father goes for counseling, he will control the counselor and come home and brag about it. His only choice is to get the hell out of his father's house and grow up into a man in his own right. This is not easy, but a painful necessity.
[+] 1 user Likes Lije's post
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#8
Thank you to all of you, and specially to Dr. Kamath, for helping me out with my conundrum.

The hardest part for me would be moving away from my parents. Much as I hate my father’s controlling tendencies, I really cannot imagine living without him, my mother and my siblings. I love them too much and I am too scared of a life alone, without my family. I don’t know how everyone does it.

And that’s just the selfish part of me that does not want to move away. The other part is the one that recognises that, no matter how many flaws he may have, my father has done too much for me and loves me too much for me to get so pissed off at him and leave him. I just cannot do that to him right now.

So I apologised to him for having been selfish and he got teary-eyed too, mostly out of relief because my apology meant that he gets to stay with me…at least for now.

I am not kidding myself though. I know that our differences are irreconcilable and there will come a day, in a few months or in an year or two, where we will have to part ways. The thought alone utterly terrifies me, but I have decided that if I ever do leave my family, it will be on good terms. I won’t leave after having been angrily asked by my father to do so, but after having taken permission from him for it.

I am currently talking to someone about a job that I’d love doing and that pays well. But suppose I take it and move to a different city, or maybe even to a different continent—what happens when I get fired one day or lose interest in it or if, after marriage, what seems like an awesome pay now becomes barely sufficient? People whose parents were also doing jobs and never owned their own business have no choice, but I do.

Is it wise to squander this much safer life, where I can go into business doing something I do not love but that pays well and where I get to be the boss, and opt for a job?
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#9
@anonymousatheist: I can hardly identify with your situation, since my parents are the exact opposite. I agree with Dr. Kamath's advice, even though it may seem a little too harsh from where you stand.

It is easy to confuse love and guilt, and this happens all the time in India. The fact that your father has raised you, bought you things you wanted, and has worked hard doing so doesn't make you his property. Your emotions at the thought of living on your own (and your description of what happened when you apologized) seem to stem from guilt (with maybe a little fear) rather than love, and that's not the emotion that should dictate what you do with your life. If you don't want to have a beer or watch a late movie because of your dad, don't. But remember that straight guys with no behavioral problems of their own don't keep from talking to girls at 22 just because they love their parents. They usually do so because they are either scared or feel guilty.

Also, as long as you stay, your mother has no choice but to capitulate to your father's wishes. By your description of events, it seem that she doesn't really have any choice either. Your decision to leave, especially if it is done in a calm, methodical manner with lots of planning and self-assurance, may be what you mother needs as well in the long term.

Make sure you work out your plans properly. Given your background (seriously, man, yours is one of the most repressive situations I've ever heard anyone in), it could be very difficult to transition. There will be many choices to be made. Take as much time as you need, talk to as many friends as possible, make sure you will be able to handle yourself on your own, and then approach your mother and father, letting them know of your decision to start living your life on your own terms as an adult man.

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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