Father’s crankiness is tough for family, who says he’s toxic
DEAR ANNIE: My father has been a bully for as long as I can remember. He has unending excuses for his behavior, but the bottom line is, he thinks nothing of browbeating people to get what he wants, sometimes to the point of being cruel. He never sees it as wrong. It is always someone else’s fault.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s as simple as passing the salt. He refuses to ask. He demands. And the words “please” and “thank you” are not in his vocabulary. Neither is “I’m sorry.” Nor does he appreciate anything nice that you might do. He only finds fault with the way you did it.
Dad is a senior citizen and claims he is entitled to behave this way. I don’t believe anyone is entitled to be rude and nasty, especially to his own family. I know I cannot change him, but this is taking a toll on our relationship. He would never consider counseling. He says I need to respect him and cater to him. How can I respect someone who is so toxic?
— Crying Kid in California
Dear Crying: You have a good grasp of the situation — your father’s behavior is rude and nasty and you aren’t likely to change him. You can, however, spend less time with him and make it clear that you refuse to be treated so poorly.
The fact that he doesn’t say “please” or “thank you” is ill-mannered, but not a deal breaker. We’d let that pass. But if he browbeats you to the point of cruelty, try to be more assertive. Say calmly, “I don’t like to be treated this way. I am leaving and will return another time.” Then walk out. If that doesn’t tone things down a bit, at least you won’t be where he can target you. Do this as often as necessary. It is not disrespectful to Dad. It is a matter of self-preservation.