jamz12 asks: My Father is always teasing me, so whenever he touches me I get annoyed, yell at him, etc. What should I do to control my emotions? Because I know that I hurt his feelings when I yell at him.
Hi jamz12 –
I love that you’re concerned about your father’s feelings. That’s a good quality, that will serve you well as your life goes on.
But I wish he showed as much concern for yours.
Look, it’s tough to be a parent. For the first few years, you have a 24-hour job of taking care of this helpless little being, and the only reward you get is to stuff your face into its tummy and make farting noises with your mouth! Then the kid gets older, and you love nothing more than the physical connection you have with them – hugs, them falling asleep on you, all that. Then they get a little older than that… and suddenly they want their own space. They don’t want you touching them all the time. And of course, that hurts.
But it’s necessary, and it’s important.
I don’t know how old you are, jamz12, but it sounds like you’re starting to build your own boundaries. You may love your father, but you don’t like being teased all the time, and you don’t like being touched by someone who’s doing all that teasing. And now you’re feeling guilty about your anger, but the truth is, you’re kinda right to be mad.
The only solution to this is for you and your dad to have a big talk. And I’m a huge fan of talks like that being kind of formal, and away from everyone else. Maybe you could ask to have dinner alone with him, away from the rest of your family. Maybe in a restaurant somewhere. And when you get alone with him, tell him how much you love him. And how much he means to you. And how much you hate getting mad at him. But also tell him that you need him to cut back on the teasing. Lots. Maybe even try to not tease you at all for a while. And that you need to also set a boundary (for a while) that he not touch you unless you’re okay with it. In other words, he can come up to you and ask for a hug, but he can’t surprise you with a hug from behind.
Now let him know, this probably isn’t going to last forever. The day might very well come when you’re more comfortable with him (or even just more comfortable with yourself – that changes a lot as we get older), and then it’ll be great for him to reach over and give you a love-pat, or squeeze your shoulder, or whatever. But just not now.
You know, it brings to my mind an old saying you’ve probably heard, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” Now that generally means to leave issues alone that don’t need attention. But the statement comes from a fact about humans. Which is that, if they’re the sort of people who like dogs, whenever they see a sleeping pooch they instantly feel “Oh it’s so cute! I want to go up and hug it and kiss its nose and lie down on it, and…” And as much as we love getting affection, we might really need that nap. Or worse, the surprise hug might come when we’re having a dream about fighting with a mountain lion, and we might wake up and bite the person we love most!
Well, it’s kind of like that. In his eyes, you’re probably as lovable and wonderful as a sleeping dog. But right now, especially since you’re feeling sensitive to all his teasing, you’re feeling like biting him!
So what I’m really saying, jamz12, is to show your dad how much you love him. Help him understand what you’re going through, so he can learn how to show his affection to you, in ways that don’t make you mad.
In the long run, this ought to bring you two closer, and help build a mutual respect that lasts the rest of your lives.
(Because after all, once we pups wake up, there’s nothing we like better than playing, teasing, being teased, and lots and lots of petting!!!)