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I live with my dad and my grandmother. I don't live with my mother because several times she was caught doing drugs around my step sister. They split up when I was 6 months old.

My dad and I don't really see each other often, even though we live in the same house. He's working at nights and sleeps during the day, which is the complete opposite of what I do, being 16. The other night my dad bought me GTA5 hoping that we would play together. I immediately knew this wouldn't end well. I started playing with him and realized that it just wasn't fun to play with him. I quit right after doing a couple of missions prematurely. My dad came into my room and asked me why I quit, so I told him the truth.

Over a couple of years, I don't feel very comfortable playing with my dad, or even doing bonding things with him. I often stay home on my computer while he does the stuff that he wants me to do with him. But I don't feel obligated to do any bonding with him. It feels weird and unnatural to me. I didn't have this problem when I was 8 or 9 but now it's so strong that I don't even like being around him in person.

I told him that I didn't like doing anything with him anymore and he's turned to the worst. He comes home very mad every day and starts yelling at me and my grandmother. I'm starting to get worried because this only normally happens when I've done some terrible stuff or he has tons of anxiety because of his ex-girlfriend and his daughter.

Is there anyway I can comfort him?

UPDATE: This is apparently affecting my dad so much that he's thinking about quitting work, and he's the only source of income. I need some step-by-step instructions on how to do this before it's too late.

UPDATE #2: Thanks everyone! I talked with my dad about the situation he's going through and I apologized about it. I told him I loved him, but at the same time I also told him that I don't really like what we do and that we should change it up. He agreed with the decision, infact, we're going to the movies next week! Thanks! :)

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The best thing you can do with your dad is talk to him. Trying to figure out why he's feeling the way he is and don't assume you already know. Don't share your feelings until you think he feels listened to. It'll make him more receptive when you say things change. It might be helpful to remind him the teens often pull away but it's usually temporary. By the time you're 20, you'll be happy he's there and want to spend more time with him. – Sandy Chapman Feb 23 at 10:21
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The best thing you can do is forgive yourself and start feeling better about your life so you don't take out your fear, anger and anxiety on him. You are lashing out. What's going on at school, with friends...do you feel accepted or abused? How similar is the treatment you give your father to how you feel in your other relationships. Let go of anger and resentment, it will stick to you like glue if you let it. Treat your father the way you want to be treated. With love and acceptance. You can do this. – Citizen Feb 23 at 10:38
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Give him a hug! – flup Feb 23 at 11:10
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I'm glad your effort seems to help you two to get along better! Still, here's one thought from me (as a father): Your father is responsible for your well-being, but you are not (yet) for your father's. Sure, when you're 16, the roles aren't the same as with 6, but they are certainly not yet reversed. Your father is an adult, you are not. He is responsible for himself, you are only beginning to be responsible for yourself. Talking to your father in order to improve your relationship is a good thing to do for a 16yo. But if he needs comfort from the harsh reality, he should turn to his friends. – sbi Feb 24 at 7:59
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This question should be in Reverse-Parenting site ;) – ypercubeᵀᴹ Feb 26 at 14:16
up vote 57 down vote accepted

It's so hard for parents when their children start to pull away. We may be parents, but we are also human beings. It hurts, even when we try not to show it. We question ourselves and if we are doing things "right". I remember when my oldest boy (he is now 20) stopped wanting to go to the movies with me. I was very upset; it was "our thing". It was an interest we both shared and I cherished that time together. I took it personally. Why didn't he want to hang out with me anymore? Did he stop liking me? What did I do wrong? But then someone pointed out something I had never thought about before...Wouldn't I be more concerned if I were the only one he wanted to hang out with...now that would be weird for a 16-year-old boy to only want to hang out with his mother...awkward!

If you want to talk to him, create a situation. Like...at the dinner table or go for a walk together. Start by asking a question, like "hey dad, can we try doing something new together?" or "Dad why are you so stressed out, I'm worried?" Might be a good one right now.

It's so hard for parents to talk to their children once they're no longer children. You're not a child. You're now a young adult and it's going to be hard for both you and your dad to make that crucial switch over. You're not his little boy anymore and he's not your daddy. You're a young man and he's your Father.

It kind of just sounds like you're stuck in the same routine and need a little switch up. Now when I see my son, it's dinner with his girlfriend and more adult conversation. We're friends. I'm not his mommy anymore :)

I truly hope this helps. Just remember to be kind to your father. We are just people trying to do the best we can...we don't really know what we're doing, we're just trying our best and sometimes it helps to get a little feedback from those we love so much. In the end, we ALL want the same thing. Happiness. We want our children to be happy and we want to be happy for them.

Best of luck!

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Thanks for the advice, but my dad doesn't want to talk to me anymore. I don't need him quitting his job and me having to stay with my drugged up mom. Can you also give me advice on that? – Damien Bochkarev Feb 22 at 23:54
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The only thing I can tell you is what I tell myself and my own children when things suck...its all temporary. Nothing lasts forever. Each day is different and new. Its all up to how you choose to handle it. You cant control what your parents choose to do...all you can do is hope for the best and remember, It's just for now, not forever. Take it from a mother who has let her children down herself a few times and been on the other side of things...it gets better, it might take a while, but it does get better. – Dejah Roman Feb 23 at 2:47
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I wish I had been given this advice when I was 16. It's taken me and my dad about 10 years to get past our relationship problems, and talking to him like this at the time would have helped immeasurably. Now we go shooting together and work on projects, and my step kids have a granddad - but it was a solid effort to keep in touch enough for this to happen. I'm bookmarking this so that when it happens with my step kids, I can be a better parent to them than I would have been otherwise. Thankyou. – nurgle Feb 24 at 17:10

UPDATE: This is apparently affecting my dad so much that he's thinking about quitting work, and he's the only source of income. I need some step-by-step instructions on how to do this before it's too late.

There is no step-by-step way to make someone feel better whom you've hurt. But here's some basic steps.

  1. Understand why what you said was unfair
  2. Apologise for it
  3. Explain why you're worried by his behaviour
  4. Tell him you love him

Of these, number 1 is the hardest, but probably the most important.

But I don't feel obligated to do any bonding with him. It feels weird and unnatural to me.

This is entirely normal, you're family, not friends. It also sucks for him. You're his child, he sounds insecure about his relationships, and he's struggling. If you are genuinely concerned, make a goddamn effort.

Yes, GTA V is a wholly inappropriate game to play with your dad (not least because it's single player); but seeing the latest Star Wars (or the original) isn't, or something like HellDivers, Gauntlet or New Super Mario Bros (nothing says, "I love you Dad", like accidentally killing him for the 4th 40th time).

You could even try something like XCom, so you can customise the characters together; or you can leave a mission for him to do while he's up, with a note on how badly you f'd up the last mission, everyone's dead, so good luck with that, dad. Or just shuffle the world around so you can be in the same room for a bit, doing your different things. If your schedule's really aren't that compatible, you're not actually giving up that much time.

If you don't want to do any of these things (and it sounds like you might have crossed a line where he doesn't), that's fine. You could even do something as simple as a card just to let him know you care; that's the kind of thing a dad quietly holds on to during the tough times. Consider something along the lines of:

Sorry I'm being a teenager. Still your son/daughter/miscellaneous. Love you Dad.

But making time for people who are a bit tiresome becomes more important the older you get, as your life moves you apart from people you used to be close to. Finding a way to do that that you can maintain is important, especially with family.

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probably beside the point, but I'd recommend Minecraft - lots of opportunity for talk and coop-decision making - provided you have 2 PCs (same room or voip) – birdspider Feb 23 at 12:41
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Hate spending time with you. -- probably not a good idea to emphasize that again. A softer out like self-deprecation might work better ("I might be a teenager who thinks parents aren't cool, but I'm <your two final sentences>"). – Matthew Read Feb 23 at 22:24
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@MatthewRead Agreed. Depends on your family as to whether that sort of rough humour works, and this seems like a case to avoid. – deworde Feb 24 at 8:57

You've done a very good thing by asking for help. There may be tough times ahead, but you are trying hard to do something about it, so whatever happens, remember that you did the best you could.

There is a biological urge to break away from one's parents, that often occurs around your age. This is partly to allow them to focus their attention and resources on their younger children, and partly to allow young adults to learn independence and go forth into the world.

Like all our urges, we can decide whether to act on them or override them. It will be easier to bond with him if you make the decision to do so, and have clear in your head all the good reasons you are doing it.

However, since you are growing up and developing your own identity, you will have to discover new ways of bonding that work for you both. Start by letting him know you want to try again. When something doesn't work, try something else. Take an interest in him. Do (nice) things he doesn't expect. You're old enough to contribute to troubleshooting the relationship. I was in a bookstore the other day and I noticed some books about improving the relationship between parents and teenage/grown-up children. Go and see if your library has something of the sort.

On the other hand, if you decide you won't have much to do with him, make it very clear that it isn't his fault. Like all kids, you're just growing up and wanting independence. This can still be a very hard time for a parent, especially one that regrets not spending more time with the child when they were younger. Help reduce his other stresses if you can, and let him know you care about him.

You may find that something in between is right for you. One way or another, the constant awkwardness needs to be addressed because it's just reinforcing all the bad feelings.

I hope it goes well.

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You're a gamer with relationship problems? Hey, I was a gamer with relationship problems too. I get it. (I even met my wife on an online game. Right after I killed her. What a noob... Sorry, what was I saying?)

You have a lot of things going for you. The biggest one is that he's trying. The next biggest one is that you told him the truth. Right there, I can see that both of you want to make this work. You already have a leg up on most people in your situation!

You said you need a step by step guide on what to do. One game I used to play was WoW, and I really loved to progression raid. We were on the bleeding edge of the content, and the few guilds ahead of us weren't sharing info. We had to go in there, get our ass kicked by the boss, figure out what we did wrong, and fix it. Next time, we maybe got the boss to 30%. Then 20% the next wipe. There was no step by step guide, but we all worked together, learned from our mistakes (most of us, anyway... stupid rogues... every freaking time...) and eventually tackled the boss.

And no one has done the content you're doing right now. Maybe your step sister? Or an aunt or uncle? But certainly, no one who is qualified to write a step by step guide has done so. Instead, you just have to go in there, figure out what the challenges are, and step out of the fire when you see it.

Luckily, a lot of encounters are similar enough where you can do some tried and true things to increase the chance of success, even if it's not step by step.

  • Always be honest. You guys seem to have this down so far.
  • Keep the lines open. If he comes home mad, ask him to talk about why he's mad. You're 16, you can probably handle whatever it is he's mad about.
  • Be willing to make the first move. If you guys stall out in communication for a few days, make the extra step. My wife was out of town the past few days, and when she came back last night she said she really wanted to watch Magic Mike XXL. I was watching some MTGO on twitch.tv, which I really would rather have watched. I prefer Eldrazi to shirtless guys that I'll never compare to. But, I figured what the heck. I don't want watch it, but I do want to spend time with her. Turns out, the movie didn't completely suck, and she was definitely happy to spend time with me. I definitely got more out of that than I would have if I kept watching twitch.
  • Keep it simple, down to basics. He loves you. He wants a relationship with you. You love him. You want a relationship with him. That is enough to make it work. If it seems like all the other stuff in the way (anxiety, stress, money problems, time apart/travel, even jet lag) makes you not able to make it work, just remember that you have the necessary building blocks to make it work.
  • Take it one day at a time. Don't take any day for granted. If yesterday was a good day, awesome! If today is a bad day, don't let it stay that way. Don't let a streak of good days go to waste, and don't let a streak of bad days get you down.

You can do this. :-)

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A suggestion that I keep hearing more and more is that communication and interaction are the key to successful relationships.

Me and my Dad often don't see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues, and this has lead to scenarios where we didn't speak to each other for a stretch of time, for fear of "setting the other off".

Long story short, it rarely helped. The only time it ever helped was when were actually angry at the other, and we were both smart enough to not trigger each other's hormonal response. Without talking to each other, we were left guessing as to what each other's motivators were, and what was going through their head. From my experience, this has never helped (I also come from a family of pessimists), despite the age old wisdom that "time heals all wounds".

Now, we don't share any interests, or really have much in common besides the fact that he's my Dad, but I've started making an effort to force myself to talk to him, and start conversations, which is something I've never been great at. You don't need to force playing with him, but you must show him that you care, and that his efforts aren't a waste.

In the end, it likely wasn't the fact that you didn't want to play GTA5 with him that upset him, it was likely a combination of:

  1. The fact that he tried to bond, and likely feels that he was shut down, and his efforts (and money) were wasted.

  2. The fact that you don't generally seem to have an interest in him.

I'm only 22, but picturing myself as a Dad, I can't think of anything more hurtful than my own children wanting nothing to do with me, and seemingly not caring about my wellbeing.

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Do you really "don't like doing anything with him anymore" or are you not liking doing some particular stuff he suggests? If the problem is the activities, then just tell that instead of blanket "anything" which frankly sounds like plain "GTFAway from me" and understandably very hurtful and suggest things you'd like to do together.

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You could be more compassionate to your dad.

Your dad bought you GTA V because he thought that'd be a game you (as a teenager) would like to play. Do you blame your dad for separation from your mom? If she's an addict, your dad must have thought it's best that you don't stay with her.

He's trying very hard to connect with you and you're not responding. It's quite natural that he's frustrated. Imagine if you were sent to jail or caught doing drugs or something serious like that and your dad stopped talking to you. Despite your trying very hard to make amends, he wouldn't respond. How would you feel in that situation?

It might be this way that he has to assume the roles of both mom and dad, and he's not very good at playing mom. That's okay, tell him you appreciate that he's trying to fill the gap, and you'll do whatever it takes to work it out, and you need his support. He might not immediately respond, but it's what he wants, so he will.

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Firstly, stop doing terrible stuff!

You have absolutely no idea how tough it is being a parent. He's got to worry about keeping a roof over your head, and food on the table, and then on top of that he has to deal with "terrible" stuff you do. You think that's fair?

You want to help him out. Don't bother trying to "comfort" him. Don't bother trying to bond with him. Just don't make his life any harder.

Just do what you need to do, and let him do what he needs to do. Go to school... study... get good grades... don't screw up. That's all he really needs from you.

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I'd have understood if you'd said 'You cannot help, just endure it'. But no, I wouldn't say I agree with you on this. There is definitely something a teenager can do to comfort his father. The OP distancing himself from his dad has created a divide between the expectation(OP being compassionate) and reality(OP being repulsed by him) that the dad cannot bridge, increasing frustration. If nothing is done, the situation will only worsen, as has already been said. – cst1992 Feb 23 at 13:03
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A failure to connect and bond with a child is hard for a parent, whether the child is behaving perfectly or terribly. – Erica Feb 23 at 14:00
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And to further Erica's point, there are plenty of very well behaved children (good grades, no detentions, arrests, tickets, complaints, extra circulars) who would trade any or all of it for a chance to bond with their parents. It's hard on everyone to lose that trusted life-line. Please don't encourage him to give up on bonding with his dad. – corsiKa Feb 24 at 15:54
    
@corsiKa OK, I understand your point. Bonding is great, however first things first. He should stop making his dads life harder than it already is. No amount bonding will make up for inconsiderate behaviour. – user1751825 Feb 28 at 0:59
    
@user1751825 kids make life harder on their parents, whether they want to or not... That's what you get when you sign up to be a parent... – corsiKa Feb 28 at 1:36

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