I've let my dad down? (LONG)Watch
I'm pretty sure at this point that my dad is a narcissist. He's genuinely a good man and works hard for our family, and he definitely loves both my sister and I. But he's stubborn. He's been stubborn ever since I can remember and refuses to hear other people's views. His view is the ONLY one that is ever right. At this point, I can say that it's not something I can change. It's now just become part of who he is.
I've never been close with my dad. He never got involved with my childhood as much as my mom. Everything he did for the family was earning money behind the scenes, but he never actually got very close to either me or my sister. As a result, I just don't feel completely comfortable around him. Silences are awkward, time spent together is usually forced etc. I never tell him what's really going on in my life because he's very quick to pick out small details to shout at me about. He seems to criticise me for everything. If he doesn't immediately shout at me, he lectures me for hours.
The issue is that we can never get anything sorted between us. Every time I talk to him, he just yells and talks over me. I've tried to say "can you please just listen to what I have to say" to no avail. He just talks and talks. Again, I don't think that's anything he can change. The other thing is that as soon as he starts "discussing" something with me (usually my future) I just start crying. Like, my eyes just water and my voice catches. I don't why, it's literally just automatic and I can't stop it happening. There's just something about him that makes me cry. The other problem is the language barrier. I can speak Cantonese semi fluently but nowhere near enough to express how I feel to him. My dads English is broken and he doesn't understand quite a lot of what I say.
Not only is it embarrassing for me, but it's also been really detrimental to our relationship. He avoids talking to me because he's worried that I'll cry again. There are a lot of things that we SHOULD be talking about but we just don't because he's scared to bring it up because if he does, I'll burst out crying.
Therefore, we are even more distanced. If my mom has issues, she'll rant to me about them. If my room is untidy, she'll yell at me. Somehow, that brings us closer. But my dad? He won't say a word. We end up not talking much at all.
Today, I bought up taking a foundation year at university. My dad was extremely unhappy with this choice. I was in the wrong, for sure. The reason I want to take a foundation year is because I want to do a science subject at uni, but they all require at least two science A-levels and I had only chosen one science (biology). My choices were poorly thought through; I was naive and only thought about what I wanted to do, not what would benefit me. At the time, my dad had literally told me to do another science and I had told him no. I believed it would work out for me. It didn't.
I told him my plans this morning. He was livid. He was frustrated. The foundation year would cost them another fortune. If I had listened to my dad, I wouldn't be in this situation. The thing that really surprised me was the fact that that night, I came home expecting him to yell at me and as usual, for my tears to flow uncontrollably.
But he didn't. Rather than having the conversation upstairs, I waited for him in his room. He just came in, sat down, took out a beer and sat there staring out the window for a solid ten minutes before going on his computer.
I don't know why, that made me feel so so so awful. My dad works hard. He works 12 hours in the heat of a takeaway. He might not be very good with the family, but he tries hard for us. I feel like I've let him down so much and that I'm really a disappointment. I want to try harder but I don't know where to go from here. Our relationship is so fractured and has been for almost 17 years. It's impossible to discuss anything with him. Yet, he does so much for me and I feel like I've let him down.
I think you really need to do a few things here.
Firstly, you need to seriously research all the courses and options available for you in terms of what you're going to do. Find information online and speak to your teachers for example. The foundation year might not even be necessary. Once you've done that, compile a list of all your findings and all the realistic options.
Secondly, you need to have a chat with your dad. It won't work at home so go to him and ask him if he would like to go to a cafe for some hot drinks or if he wants to take a walk or something. Going outside will be better because then both of you will be forced to have a proper discussion (and it will probably reduce the chances of you crying). Speak to him about what you plan on doing and show him you're serious about what you've decided to do.
Thirdly, if the language barrier seems to be a problem, I think it might be best to maybe practice what you want to say to him in mainly Cantonese so that he’s able to understand what you're saying. It might help to write down what you're going to say to him.
Fathers want the best for us and some fathers are better at expressing this to their children than others. You feeling like your let your dad down is very natural and I wouldn't worry about that.