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Face Your Daddy Issues: Part II

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You’ve identified your daddy issues, so now what? The road to mending your daddy issues — “re-wiring” yourself to act and react differently and/or improving your relationship — can be long and winding. If you have the ability and desire to improve the relationship with your dad, here are three situations that allow you to start the healing process:

Do you tremble at the idea of saying no to your father?

This is typically based on a false fantasy that your dad will fall apart or become enraged if you say no. It gets easier if you can debunk this fantasy through practice. Try saying no to your dad and watch his reaction — usually, it won’t be as bad as you imagine. If you’re married, you can also ask your spouse to tell your dad no while you take note of his reaction. The more you say no and have positive resulting interactions, the more your fear will dissipate.

Do you avoid your father for unclear reasons?

Try writing down the who, what, where and why of these moments. After some time, look back and review several entries to uncover patterns. Avoidance typically results from guilt about something like not wanting to spend a holiday with your dad. You can start having those uncomfortable conversations by being honest, “I have been avoiding this conversation because I feel guilty telling you I have decided to spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws this year.” This approach is more helpful than just blurting it out because your dad will see your struggle and get to learn more about you, which is better for your relationship in the long run.

Do you find yourself doing things your dad hasn’t asked for?

For example, maybe you hand deliver a Father’s Day gift for fear he won’t accept it otherwise. Most likely, you’re trying to prevent future hurt by figuring out what your dad needs in advance, but you’re not a mind reader.  The better option is to ask your father what he is expecting and trying to meet that need.

If these steps don’t improve your situation or if your daddy issues are negatively impacting your relationships or career, it’s time to seek professional help. I recommend finding a therapist who specializes in dynamic therapy and can help you identify the type of father you have and how his issues have affected your relationship.

To your emotional health,

Dr. Dabney

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