Dear Harlan: I’m a 21-year-old woman changing my life for the better. My father says awful things to me. I try to ignore the comments and let them go, but he puts me down whenever I see him. I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself, and he can’t wait to tear me down. I’m back in school and making a life for myself. Instead of being encouraging, he tells me I’ll never amount to much. He is not healthy to be around. I do my best to limit the time I’m around him, but I live in the same house with him. How can I deal with his negativity and criticism? I hate being around him.
— Constantly Criticized
Dear Constantly Criticized: Your dad isn’t well. Healthy and happy parents don’t do this. Forget getting his approval. It’s a waste of energy. Change your expectations. When he attacks, step away. Don’t engage with him. Surround yourself with kind and loving people who will help, support and encourage you. Find mentors, teachers, coaches, spiritual leaders and anyone who has been there and done it. Ask for their help. Find these people and places at school, in your community and online. Make it a mission to make enough money to move out FAST. GET OUT of this home. Once you are no longer in the same house, you can distance yourself from your dad’s miserable energy. In the meantime, remember THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. It’s about him struggling with his own fears, self-limiting beliefs and demons. The sooner you stop seeking his approval, the faster you will change your life.