Angry father, pessimistic child


Angry father, pessimistic child


your avatar   Len, 19-year-old woman

My family life and my relationships with other people are crumbling down. I haven't spoken with my father for 2 years now because he left home for 3 days and never came back. So I left home. My mother is struggling with finances while here I am, at school, living in a residence building. Here I am, almost 20 now, and still not sure what I truly want to be in life. The only person I keep in contact with daily is my boyfriend but lately, he seems as though he's becoming annoyed with me because of my pessimism. You see, my brothers and I weren't treated well by my father when I was younger, up until I moved out. He cheated on my mother and told me when I was only 8. I didn't have the courage to tell my mother until I was in grade 10.

My father gets angry really easily and he likes taking that anger out on my brothers and I. So assuming the worst of things has kept me alive up until I left. It's become a bad habit but I don't believe my boyfriend really understands that. Sometimes, I assume he's angry but that assumption makes him angry. I love him but I feel as though he only keeps me around as a pet of some sort. What I mean by that is that he doesn't like me going out. When I do go out he gets worried and when I return, he's never happy with me. He says that he's okay with having me around during his alone time but I never seem to get alone time for myself because I'm afraid he'll get upset or think something's going on. I want him and everyone in my family to be happy.

How can I make everyone happy?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Len, I can see you feel as if you were carrying the whole world on your back. So, I'll start with the question at the end:

YOU DO NOT NEED TO MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY. You are not responsible for them. I think this need to make others happy has been a terrible load on you. It is impossible for anyone to ensure the happiness of others, in any circumstances. If you can let go of this requirement you place on yourself, you can then become happier yourself.

You are right in seeing the link between always expecting the worst and your father's behavior during your childhood and teenage years. Expecting the worst made it possible for you to survive then. It is no longer necessary now. Of course, knowing this in the head is not the same as being able to dismiss a long standing pattern. So, you need to work at habit change.

I strongly suspect that you have been traumatized by your childhood experiences. Since you are a student, you can probably use the counseling services of your college. A few sessions with a knowledgeable therapist could turn your life around. You can read up on "exposure therapy." That's what I would recommend for you if you and I could work together face to face. It worked for me, and for most people who give it a good go.

Your third issue is the relationship with your boyfriend. I don't know what his view of the situation is, but from your description, it seems like the start of abuse. Abuse is not so much a matter of violence, but of control. You can both look up my page on relationships. A healthy relationship is 50% shared interests and activities, 50% private to each, with perfect equality. An abusive relationship is when one partner has a life, but the other is constrained to live within the control of the other. Again, this is best sorted out with a counselor. Email me if you can't find anyone local.

Have a good life (you can),


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:


Right before you fall asleep, plant a positive suggestion in your mind.
"My life has been filled with terrible misfortune, most of which never happened."
Michel de Montaigne
Nothing says more about the state of your self-esteem than being able to look in the mirror and say, "I love you."