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I’m 26 and don’t get along well with my dad.

One of the things that really irritates me is that he always agrees to something, but then complains how much it’s inconveniencing him, or says he’s in a rush or is making large sacrifices to do it.

For example, we both enjoy swimming and he was about to drive to the swimming pool and had invited me. This wasn’t planned and he asked if I would be ready in 10 minutes and I said yes. He got very mad that I took 12 minutes to get ready. Whenever I tell him I don’t like it when he rushes me, we get into an argument. I asked him why it was such a big deal that I was two minutes late and he said it’s because traffic gets worse every 5 minutes, which probably isn’t true. (He also said some other stuff, like he needed to get groceries later.)

Also when I graduated from school he was the only family member who came and he tried to rush me because he said he had work to do.

I’d like to learn to avoid being with him when it’s just the two of us but I always forget.

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  • If he's like that with other people too then it's just a personality trait. – A E Nov 26 '16 at 11:37
  • @AE how do you see that? While I agree it may be a personality trait, that is not constructive at all and isn't advice. I used to work with a nut case who got away with everything, but he was allowed to do that because he was diagnosed as an alcoholic. – snowchym Dec 16 '16 at 10:42
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    @snowchym If it's a personal trait then there's nothing you can do about it. Get along or get away. I don't see how your alcoholic example is related. – Alic Dec 16 '16 at 21:58
  • @snowchym I'm suggesting that, if he acts that way with people who aren't his children, then perhaps it isn't a parenting issue. I'm not saying that makes his behaviour ok necessarily, but that perhaps it's a general getting-along-with-other-people issue rather than a parent-child issue. – A E Dec 16 '16 at 22:51
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Could you try saying something like, "Sorry, but I cannot be ready in 10 minutes. I can be ready in..."

Or tell him whst amount of time you expect he needs for an event, but add ten or so minutes?

Build in a little extra time and if he says he cannot do something, accept it. If you end up spending less time together and he complains, just say you also have time constraints. Let him make time.

This is not just your problem, it is his, too. No one, including a parent, is perfect.

Also what about just making time to talk, without an event or activity? Talk about the issue. If he cannot talk about it, do not blame yourself. Many adults suck at honest communication.

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I’d like to learn to avoid being with him when it’s just the two of us but I always forget.

This is the part you have control over. This is the part on which you should expend the most effort, because effort here will be the most fruitful. So work out a system with yourself that helps you avoid being alone with him. (Or, be alone with him only when you don't need anything from him.)

If his only flaw is that he rushes you, stop going anywhere with him, or drive yourself. Don't ask him for favors that will backfire on you. You're old enough to drive yourself or ask to borrow the car, make alternate arrangements, etc. If he asks you if you'd like to do x (which leads to hard feelings), memorize a mantra as a response:

"I'd love to, Dad, but it seems we always end up fighting in this kind of situation, and I don't want to fight. So, thanks for the invitation, but I'll pass."

Maybe someday you'll be able to discuss this problem. For a while, at least, I suspect he'll balk at this response. Give it anyway. Or, if he insists, go, and if he starts to complain, excuse yourself and get away.

Next, ask yourself why you continue to fall into his 'traps'[1]. Is it that sometimes he comes through (so that you can't tell when he will surprise you with impatience at best, or passive-aggressive behavior at worst?) If so, can you see a pattern that can tip you off? When you have figured out why you keep trusting someone who obviously hurts your feelings, you will have a tool to work with in protecting your feelings, if that is your goal.

If your goal is to change your dad's behavior, it's best to realize right now that that is highly unlikely to happen.

[1] It's likely because you want something - like to go somewhere - or you want to give your dad an opportunity to show that he cares for you in a palpable way. We all want this of our parents.

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Nobody really cares that much about things being on time. For example, "the traffic gets worse every five minutes" is nonsense. The problem isn't that you are late. The problem is that he wants to be the centre of attention, or that he wants to control you.

So if you are late, and he complains, don't argue. Do something to be later. For example if he complains that you took 12 minutes instead of 10 to get ready, you should promptly realise that you left something important (like your wallet), go back to your home, and take a few minutes until you are back.

It's an educational process: He must learn that whenever he tries to rush you, it takes longer. Don't complain or argue. Be late.

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    Why? In plenty of places and later in life, being late is a big deal. You can get fired for that. You can get reprimanded for that. You can fail University exams for being late. You can fail entire courses for being consistently late. This is horrible advice. – user308386 Nov 28 '16 at 8:31
  • 26 year old will know the difference. You don't fail exams or entire courses for making your dad wait two minutes. – gnasher729 Jun 25 '17 at 16:19

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